While extroverts long for the day when they’ll be reunited, the rest of us are singing a different tune: introverted, and it feels so good.
I grew up feeling a little bit sorry for introverts. I believed that extroverts were doing it right and introverts, well, still had time to grow into their, better, extroverted selves.
To be extroverted meant being outgoing, fun, vibrant and influential. I realized early on that if I turned up the extrovert-dial, people noticed me and noticed what I was doing.
In third grade, my teacher was always on me for being too social and named me Madame Butterfly for my inclination to flit about the room engaging with anyone willing to listen. While the moniker was meant to slow me down, in my young mind, it only affirmed that I was winning friends and influencing people.
It would take me thirty years of flitting to realize it was downright exhausting.
Inevitably, pleasing all the people drained me (and turned out to be impossible, by the way). Parties and social gatherings left me void of energy and ambition for days. Despite my MBTI type – ENFJ (last assessed in the early nineties), I have morphed into a full-fledged introvert.
So, here we are in the midst of a pandemic with a “stay home, stay safe” order.
Droves of people here in Michigan are livid about the restrictions and governance. But, not all of the people. I’m seeing a pattern develop. Mind you, zero science nor research outside of my own speculation and observation back this pattern. My summation is that introverts are thriving.
While my extroverted friends find all of this appalling and suffocating, my fellow introverts are basking in the slow pace, the quiet and the lack of inaudible noise that is the “old normal”. In many cases (again, not all – I already acknowledged that this is a study of one test subject), the introverts are embracing the opportunity to be the best version of themselves while the extroverts are shouting from the rooftops that this is not the time for self-improvement. They argue that quarantine is a time for lamenting our fate. Their fury runs deep, yet they exist in a vacuum void of energy that stifles and imprisons them.
With that, an epiphany blooms.
The standard pace of life, without a pandemic, moves at one speed: full-throttle. We don’t question it, we instead strap on our proverbial roller skates and mount the hamster wheel. In that world, the extroverts – those who thrive on interaction with all the people, at all the places, on all the days, dictate the pace. Their version of grace (their temporary reprieve) is a vacation once or twice a year; five to ten days of “down-time” and when it ends, they are eager to return to the race.
When we’re not in quarantine, introverts live in an extroverted world.
Well, dear extroverts, welcome to our world.
We’re introverted and it feels so good!
We are finally coming up for air. The silence is glorious and makes our hearts sing. The virtual meetings are working out great – we’re not hermits – we love seeing friends, family and co-workers. Frankly, we hope some of it will stick. Virtual meetings feel efficient and productive. Our family who resides in three different states is “gathering” more now than we ever have. What a gift!
But wait, are you aware that there are other verts?
Along with extroverts and introverts, we walk among omniverts and ambiverts.
According to Paige Graffunder in her article The Curse of the Omnivert:
An omnivert is someone who displays classic traits of both introverts and extroverts, in specific situations. For example, I can be the life of any party, flitting my way around the room, engaged in conversation with multiple people for hours and hours, and flourishing the entire time. No problem, easy as pie! When the party is over however, I will need two days of solitude to recharge my social reserves. I will need soft music, warm beverages, long books, and fuzzy socks. I will likely turn my phone off, and I probably won’t respond on social media. I know my social batteries are full when I start to get lonely.
Meanwhile, there are also ambiverts. This article from The Science of People defines an ambivert as “someone who exhibits qualities of both introversion and extroversion, and can flip into either depending on their mood, context, and goals.”
So, by my calculation, an omnivert can operate as either, while an ambivert can operate as both; or more pointedly, ride the line between the two. Intriguing, eh? This information helps fill in the holes of my “study.”
In case it feels like I’m ignoring the elephant in the room, I’m not.
Sadly, the only constant in this “study” is the COVID-19 virus. It’s horrible and devastating the lives of so many. It’s the reason we’re even uttering words like unprecedented and quarantine. But I want to be clear, I’m not ignoring its part in all of this, nor down-playing the hurt it’s caused physically, emotionally, and financially. This story merely offers one perspective on life as a result of the shelter-in-place order… which I acknowledge never would have happened without the virus.
All the verts yearn for a resolution; a cure; to not hear the word “unprecedented” uttered again for a long, long time. I am optimistic that we will overcome this pandemic and I’m hopeful that we will come out of it wiser and stronger as a people.
A time will come when the hustle renews.
And so, we must ask… What will the world look like? Will we go back to the way things were? Can we? Will people hug and shake hands? Is virtual communication here to stay? Will social distancing become a new social norm? There are millions of questions; I alone ponder hundreds. But one that I keep going back to is, how can I hold onto this sense of peace?
I will need to forge my own path and commit to being intentional about making time and space for it. Perhaps I’ll embrace a new title as omnivert or ambivert and have the mindfulness to approach the future normal with a fresh perspective. Or more likely, I’ll continue to approach it from the comfort and safety of my introvertedness. That feels more like grace.
What type of vert are you and how are you coping in this unprecedented time? (I had to throw it in there one last time). If you are among the extroverts, hold strong; you will soon be reunited! And if you subscribe to the lyrics that entitle this story, embrace this time. We’re introverted and it feels so good!
p.s. You’re welcome for the video in that last link. It’s sure to stick with you for days. xo