Have you had a feeling of guilt during the stay-at-home orders?
Do you read stories, watch the news, scroll through social media, and feel differently than most of the world, than most of your other friends?
I’m not talking about guilt for missing out on birthday parties, family dinners, work-related Happy Hours, sporting events, social gatherings, weekly playdates, and all the other things that used to happen in our pre-COVID lives.
I am talking about feeling guilty for NOT missing those things.
It took me a few weeks to figure out what I was feeling in regards to having to stay home and events that were going on in the world. I have been feeling waves of extreme happiness, calmness, and a huge increase in patience even with becoming a full-time stay-at-home mom with a toddler, a spouse, three dogs, while navigating virtual teaching and being a graduate student. I finally realized it’s the feeling of being an introvert in this new world. I am an introvert surrounded by extroverts. To the outside eye, I look like an extrovert who is thriving in the world of being social because that is how I have learned to be successful in life. In reality, I’m actually an extroverted introvert.
On the inside and during COVID, this introvert is appreciating the break. I am enjoying not seeking out attention or social engagements. I am exploring new hobbies and interests. I am relishing the new normal of spending time with my little family. I am learning that I do have good insight into myself, my motivations, and my own feelings. I have more energy. I LOVE the quiet time (even when it’s 5 minutes in the bathroom).
My previous normal was driven by schedules, alarms, emails, meetings, dinner dates, homework, talking to people all day, answering questions, and so much more. It took me a few weeks to understand that I don’t have to do all those things right now. I don’t have to be everywhere and help everyone. It took a few weeks to slow down and learn that I actually love this slow-paced lifestyle. And it’s easier to embrace because we’ve both been able to maintain our employment from home.
Really slowing down
I FINALLY have that downtime that I have always wished for and didn’t realize I needed. There is nowhere to be, no rush, no appointments, nothing. Expectations are low. I have always held myself to high expectations, saying “yes” to everything asked of me, signing up for all the after school activities and classes, always putting more on my plate. This is a rare time because I don’t have to say “yes” since I’m not being asked to do extra things.
On those days that my toddler is screaming, throwing books at us, refusing to nap, and needs all the attention, I can remember that we don’t have anywhere to be and take a breath. Why can’t he stay in his pajamas a little longer? Why can’t he have an extra cookie for dinner tonight? Why does he have to take a nap RIGHT now?
We are getting to spend 24/7 with our toddler, who won’t be a toddler much longer. We are able to give him grace to explore on his time because we don’t have anywhere to be. We have this rare opportunity to give 100% of our attention to our son and our family.
If you are enjoying aspects of this social distancing era, don’t feel bad about that! If you aren’t seeking out those Zoom Happy Hours, that’s okay! If you aren’t in a rush to get back to normal, that’s okay, too! Don’t feel guilty for appreciating the opportunity to really slow down.
We are introverts in an extrovert-dominated culture, so enjoy this break while it lasts. What are you learning to love during this unusual time?