Social distancing has completely rocked my world as I know it has for almost everyone. As a Type A extrovert, the isolation I feel from the lack of human interaction is sometimes overwhelming. I know there are tons of ways to cope and get through it. If I just pop open the good ol’ internet, I’ll see memes that make me laugh at this entire ordeal and motivational quotes to remind me I’m not alone. As a Type A (read: control freak) extrovert, I can tell you that while connecting through a screen is better than nothing, the lack of actual human connection is rough on us extroverts.
I miss my friends, my students, my kids’ friends, heck I miss the store clerks who I can no longer chat with. I miss people! I am energized by being around people. I thrive in situations that I can control, and I’ve found myself thrown into a time of isolation and uncertainty. Every ounce of my being has been tested during this time of social distancing. If you find yourself in the same boat, I’ve compiled a list of ways I’ve found to cope.
Let go of all expectations of how I think things should be.
This is hard for me as I like to control things, but it’s just caused too much stress for me this last month. I’ve been asking myself questions like, “What is the right thing to do during this quarantine?” or “I am doing the right thing for my family?” I’m comparing the way I’m living my life to the way others are living theirs. Of course, I have my opinions, like many of us, on how I think things should be handled, and I get frustrated when people don’t agree with me. But I’ve learned that I’ve lost too much sleep and caused myself undue stress worrying about what other people think and do during this time. I feel like I’m a pretty logical person and realize that not everyone is going to agree on the way things are done, but I’ve had to let it go when that happens.
Can we all agree that this is new territory for everyone and keep that in mind when we interact? The amount of stress this has put on people is unimaginable, and I remind myself of that often when I want to jump through my computer and snap at someone for their inconsiderate comment. We’re not all going to agree with how things are done during a pandemic (and thank goodness for that, right?), but personally, I’ve had to let go of that expectation more times than I’d like to admit during the past month. Something that’s not easily accomplished for Type A personality, but worth the effort.
Connection is key
As an extrovert, I thrive on interacting with people. It energizes me and helps me be more productive throughout my days. I know that may sound strange, but it works for me. So you can imagine how hard this time of isolation has been. Yes, of course, I spend time with my family, but sometimes I just need to see some other faces. The pastor at my church preached a sermon a few weeks ago and he said something that stuck with me. He said, “engagement is the antidote to fear, engaging with others dissipates fear.” Powerful and so true.
Engaging with others is already a strength of mine, and when that was so abruptly taken away, I struggled to figure out my new normal as I’m sure many people have. Thank goodness for technology that has let me connect virtually with my friends, family, and students. Those virtual happy hours are getting me through many tough days right now. I urge you to connect with someone outside of your family. It has been so helpful to me to stop reading and watching the news and interact with people, instead. People who I care about and know in real life. That type of engagement dissipates the fear and loneliness that I sometimes feel during this time and helps satisfy my extrovert need to connect.
Find your blessings
This seems like a no brainer, but have you sat down and thought about what it is you’re are thankful for in this new normal? I’m not a journaler, although I wish I was, so I just put on some music and try to think about what I’m thankful for. Gratitude is the best medicine. So I ask you, where do you see the blessings? Some of us may have to look a little harder than others because the strain on each of us is different depending on our situation, but if we look close enough, I’ll bet we can find something.
Y’all, I’m worried. I’m worried about the people dying, I’m worried about my family contracting the virus, and I’m worried about the economy and how this will affect our small business. I’m worried about what will happen or may never happen. I’m just all around worried. The recent events with COVID-19 are enough to throw even the calmest and collected person into a tailspin, but hopefully, you’ve noticed a theme with these suggestions. They all center around letting go of things we can’t control and practicing gratitude for the things we can. Not rocket science, but some food for thought for those of us that are struggling with the fact we can’t control everything and we aren’t about to see people face to face. And sometimes, if you’re a Type A extrovert, a Zoom happy hour with friends is just the right medicine to make it through another day.
We are all in this together, and we have to find ways to rise despite these exceptionally disappointing and difficult times.