How, Contrary to Popular Belief, Social Isolation Takes a Toll on Introverts

When lockdown was announced in Italy, waves of relief washed over me. After all I am an introvert who loves staying home. However after being under a strict lockdown for almost 60 days, the quarantine hit me hard.

But why?

Shouldn’t a quarantine, when you are obliged to remain at home, be an introvert’s paradise?

It was a Monday night, March 9th, when our President announced the strict measures to be taken starting immediately — staying home — no going out — except for basic needs services, such as markets and pharmacies. Meaning a walk around the block at most. Not bad for an introvert.

So as expected, my first weeks were a delight.

I no longer had to come up with excuses for not showing up at social events. No more flaking on social plans for a while. No interruptions and plenty of time to work on my priorities. No more noises outside and the guilty feeling I sometimes felt for missing out on something or not fulfilling my social role as a “healthy” individual (yes, we live in an extroverted world, or one that at least pretends to be).

So my first weeks went on like this — waking up, following my morning routine with no pressure, meditation, yoga (somedays), online work, and free time. All of it from the comfort of my lovely home. No pressure. No rush.

No worries about looks, no worries about commuting. Heaven. Besides a few messages I have received of friends asking to video call — the first time I got the invitation I thought to myself, oh no now I will have to find excuses not to have social gatherings online? I am at home, I have finished working, I don’t have a good excuse — But at last, I was able to come up with a few good ones, we always get creative in times of need, and I could let myself out of those online meetings.

So the situation was pristine!

However as the days went by, something was odd. Things started to change.

The silence so much appreciated at the beginning started to bother me.

The lack of people surrounding me started to make me feel lonely.

I saw myself calling upon my friends and asking to video chat. Me? Video chatting?

Free hours sometimes felt like a burden.

I was losing my energy, something was missing. But what? It seemed, for an introvert, that I had it all. I should be enjoying the situation.

But then it hit me.

I still needed people, movement, and some sort of novelty.

The fact that I don’t socialize much or don’t want to have many acquaintances does not imply that I don’t like being around my dear and well-chosen friends.

The fact that I love my home does not mean I don’t enjoy going for a walk outdoors or traveling to a new place — even if I might interact solely with a few.

The fact that I love having my morning cappuccino on my own, doesn’t mean I don’t adore doing it while sitten at my favorite coffee simply observing people.

The fact that I love silence doesn’t mean I don’t miss overhearing the background conversations while having lunch.

The fact that I love reading, doesn’t mean I don’t miss going to bookstores and losing myself in new books.

The fact that I don’t like packed places, doesn’t mean I don’t miss eating out with my boyfriend at that cozy place.

So yes, same as extroverts, introverts may also be having a hard time coping with the quarantine. It isn’t an introvert ‘s dream.

And now that measures seem to be lessened and we are being allowed to go out, I ask myself and wonder how I will feel.

Will I miss the quarantine days once the world goes back to being an extroverted one? Only time will tell.

This post was previously published on Change Becomes You and is republished here with permission from the author.


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