I am an extrovert. I’m not quite as extroverted as I used to be. In the years preceding Hope’s arrival, I’d had to pull back on my social life because I was working on my doctorate. I still managed to get out and I had managed to balance my work travel with my studies. The travel satiated my serious need for connection with people. It kept things interesting.
And then Hope came along and everything changed. I reduced my travel significantly the first year of motherhood. A few months after Hope’s arrival I tried to bring her out to brunches and dinners with friends who wanted to meet her. It didn’t go well. Hope’s ability to handle those interactions was minimal at best. We endured some embarrassing moments. It took me a long time to really understand that Hope is an introvert, or at least she presents as one.
I eventually had to start recharging alone. I wanted time to be with people, but parenting can be exhausting. I was ok, nay, I was great with more alone time when I could get it.
The last two years, Hope has been away at school, first a boarding school and up until recently college. The distance has allowed us to truly be ourselves. I could be social in the ways that brought me joy and so could Hope.
And then social distancing happened, and Hope and I were (are) back living together full time. We will be together at least until late summer since her college is transitioning to online courses for the rest of the summer due to the pandemic.
We are really different now. I’m ok with more alone time these days, but there’s a limit to that. I desperately need interaction. I get anxious when I don’t have enough human interaction. It can be hard.
Hope is much more social these days, but with everyone from school far flung and hunkered down at home, Hope has retreated to her introverted origins.
While I genuinely want her to get fresh air and exercise, my insistence about a daily walk is as much about her wellbeing as it is about my need for human interaction. She humors me. She knows I need it even if she doesn’t want anything to do with exercise. She graciously gives me that hour and I devour it, loving the connection and the energy I get from it. I might be physically tired when I get back but my emotional state is like a high. I’m energized.
Hope can’t wait to get back to her room and close the door. I might only see her once or twice more the rest of the day.
I corralled my family—a mix of 3 introverts and 2 extroverts—into a video chat over the weekend. It was delightful. My mother, the other extrovert, and I were delighted! My dad was in frame for a while and then he wandered off to wash the dishes and listen with no interaction.
I resumed working today. Most of my meetings are on video, and while I get my kicks out of the interaction, I’m exhausted by the end of the day. I went for a 20 minute walk in the rain midday. I did my best, and yet I still snarled at Hope this evening.
In my defense the trash I told her to take out 3 days ago was still sitting in a bag in her room. And the fried rice I made that I thought would last a couple of days was devoured in the middle of the night leaving about one serving left. I’m tired and grumpy and I need people.
People other than Hope. My goodness I miss my boss and coworkers.
I miss people.
This is a challenging time for everyone, but it’s also a rough time for us extroverts who are hunkered down with limited opportunities to get our energy through connection with other people.
Be kind to the extroverts in your life right now. We are probably annoying as hell and a bit spazzy. We’re not ok. We miss you and everyone else. We are starving for external connection. We have irritated our families, and now we’re out of people to buzz around. So yeah, help us out. Humor us.