Your Pandemic is Not Mine: The Difference Between Introverts and Extroverts
There's a post I've seen about 1,000 times that's been rolling around on Facebook, the title of which is something like "we're not in the same boat, but we're in the same storm." Obviously it's resonating with a lot of people.
Our response and feelings about the current situation is as individual as we are. I recently recorded a podcast with a trauma therapist and we talked about how past trauma could affect how we're dealing with the current pandemic. It makes sense: our experiences shape our responses.
Personally, I haven't really had a problem with what's going on. I mean, I'm worried about the illness factor, but I'm trying not to think too much about it because I have very little control over it. But as far as my day-to-day routine, not much as changed. I work from home, I love to read, I'm enjoying my time in my garden (although I do wish I had the freedom to buy more plants), and I'm soaking up what feels like stolen time with my teenagers.
But I have the sense to know that not everyone is like me and I have to remind myself that we're all experiencing this pandemic in different ways.
It kind of makes me think of politics. I won't lie - our current administration gives me a daily headache and there are moments when I definitely feel my blood pressure rising. But I remind myself that that's how many people felt about the last administration - they didn't agree with everything that Obama did and it made their blood pressure rise. I feel like it's important to keep that in perspective and it makes me actually have more sympathy for people when things don't go their way (even if I don't agree).
So, just as there are differing opinions about just about everything, there are differing responses to what's going on, too. While I find comfort in my home and it's my "safe space," I have friends who are just itching to get out and be with people.
The other day I thought about it and asked myself, "What is your nightmare situation as an introvert?" And I realized that this shelter-in-place is probably like if someone told me that I had to go to a 6-month long music festival with 20,000 other people. I WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO STAND THAT.
Just this morning, I received an email from a family member who was responding to a video that my daughter made for the final project in her Mass Media class. Here is the video:
The response was something like, "She did a fabulous job on this project, but midway through she says she's traumatized. I've been staying at home and I'm not traumatized."
That family member got a "mama rant" in response.
My daughter came home from college for Spring Break and had no idea she wouldn't be returning. She's had to work on school projects at home alone for a major that's very hands-on. She hasn't been allowed to see her friends and that's a connection she deeply needs - in person. She loves live music. She had just gotten her first taste of freedom as a college freshman and that was yanked away. She never got to say goodbye to her friends. For the first time in her life she has experienced moments of deep depression. She feels isolated even though she has a loving family around her.
This is traumatic for her.
Just in case you're wondering, trauma is defined as "a deeply distressing or disturbing experience." So, for those people who have had to essentially shut their lives down and self-isolate when what they crave is human connection...I would imagine you feel the same way I do when I step onto a crowded airplane. And that's DEEPLY distressing for me.
I'm happy for those of us who are able to find comfort in staying at home. But there is a huge population of people out there who get their energy from being with people and staying social. For them, this experience is pure hell. And just because that's not MY response to it doesn't mean I don't have sympathy for those who are dealing with it.
The moment we stop looking at other people's perspectives with sympathy and understanding is the moment this pandemic has taken away more than our loved ones and personal freedom.