Why Social Isolation is Surprisingly Difficult for Introverts
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Are you sure?
If I told any number of acquaintances or family members that I was an introvert, I have a feeling many of them would laugh. Sometimes, I laugh off the idea, too.
While we have various ideas of what the personality types mean, especially since Myers Briggs seemingly took over the pop-psych world, Susan Cain, author of the bestseller Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, says it comes down to how you practice self-care. “Introverts recharge their batteries by being alone,” she writes. “Extroverts need to recharge when they don’t socialize enough.”
I don’t present as an introvert. I often hang out in groups. I tend to be loud at parties. I’m quick to laugh. I frequently introduce myself to strangers unprompted, and numerous numbers in my phone are from people I’ve met once or twice with the promise of hanging out again soon. Even so, I don’t think any of those hangouts has ever happened.
Sometimes, if I’ve been out all day with people or gone to two social engagements in a weekend, I feel like I can’t go to another one. I need time to read. I need to do yoga. I need to sit by myself and think. Otherwise I start to feel anxious or cross or just not quite like myself.
If any of this seems familiar to you, it’s possible that you’re an introvert passing as an extrovert, or that you’re an extrovert who shares many characteristics of an introvert. If that’s the case, I’m willing to bet that isolating yourself during the coronavirus pandemic has been particularly hard on you.
Counterintuitive, no? An actual legal decree saying you must keep yourself away from other people seems like an introvert’s dream. And maybe it is for some. But for me and plenty of others, it’s been challenging in a way that’s difficult for friends and family to understand.
A lot of this is my fault. If you present as something that you’re not, people may have trouble accepting what you actually are. In fact you may have trouble accepting what you actually are.
In her book’s introduction, Cain suggests that there are far more introverts than it may seem. “Depending on which study you consult,” she…