An Introvert Writes the Extrovert’s Guide to Social Distancing

*Photo by Leah Kelley from Pexels

Social distancing, or more accurately – physical distancing has plagued us on equal footing with the Coronavirus outbreak and the economic catastrophe the pandemic spells out. In a global society that views being an extrovert as a virtue, it’s only natural physical limitations to have a huge negative effect on people.

As an introvert who dreads being called on the phone and dragged to outings just because her friends insist on having her there*, I have to admit physical distancing has impacted me as well. What I miss the most is exactly the physical closeness to someone I trust and love.

There’s a bright side for us introverts [me], though. I don’t feel guilty for not wanting to go out and hang somewhere, especially somewhere new. I don’t have to weigh my anxieties against my friends’ feelings. There’s no trade-off between wanting to spend some quality time with them and the comfort of my home.

I have that going on for me. I’d imagine most extroverts don’t find this to be a silver lining. Many people have found themselves with too much time on their hands to fill with stressing over the future or being frustrated with the current situation.

As a professional introvert, I thought I could throw together a short list of everything I do [or try to] when I stay home. I’m among the lucky ones who still have their jobs, so I don’t have more time, except for the 1-2 hours I save on commuting to and from work.

But I hope that whoever you are and you feel like you need something to take your mind off things for a little, you can find something for yourself here to help. This is what an introvert would feature in the extrovert’s guide to social distancing.

Coming to Terms with Social Distancing

The following list is not based on scientific research or psychological training. I’m an economist with lots of hobbies. But this is my personal experience and it works pretty damn well for filling up my free time to the brim. Here are some ideas that can keep you busy and take your mind off things.

Read a Book or Listen to One

pale-blue-dot-carl-sagan-audio-book-coverReading is a solitary activity and I’m sure it’s not the preferred activity for most extroverts. But here’s the thing – you can listen to a book and feel as if someone else’s there with you while you go about your day. I can actually recommend the audio version of Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan, simply because of that soothing narration.

It’s not only incredibly curious, but it’s also a great way to put our lives and current situation in perspective.

Learn a Craft, Find a New Hobby

Hobbies are a great way to connect with people. If you start making something with your hands, several things would happen:

  1. It would keep you busy and focused, and you won’t feel as time flies by.
  2. It would encourage you to join new communities and stay even more connected than before, not giving you time to feel alone.
  3. It would help you relate and create something. And that brings satisfaction.
  4. Most things you can do come with video tutorials, which would give you a feeling of staying connected and being with someone else in the situation that you’re in.
  5. It’s a great topic to discuss with your friends and family when you meet online tonight. It would give you the feeling that time’s moving again and things are changing and evolving, even if you’re physically separated from those you love.

That might not be for everyone but here are the two things I like doing as a hobby, and how are they practical in times of social distancing and physical isolation.

  • Cooking During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Of course, you can stick to ordering your food, but the quarantine gives you the great opportunity to learn how to cook for yourself. Not just how to cook, but how to make the best out of your products.

If you’ve read my previous post on the topic of Coronavirus, you’ll know how pointless I think it is to stock up on products. It’s a waste of money and food that would probably go bad before you use it. Learn to cook with scraps.

Cooking in these times can teach you how to optimize what you consume. You can participate in live cooking sessions, communicate, and relate more to people. And you can learn how to optimize your shopping habits. What things you need to buy and have at hand, and what’s just excessive buying. That might be quite good for your budget in the times to come, and a step toward sustainability.

  • Sewing During Social Distancing

This time last year I was hell-bent on teaching myself how to sew. It all started when I accidentally came across a tutorial on how to make yourself a skirt by MadeEveryday. Dana’s really cute and got me hyped.

Sure, that’s not for those who don’t have or can’t afford a sewing machine. But the rest of you, extroverts? Sewing is the best way you can refresh your wardrobe for when that’s all finally over.

Sewing makes time fly and gives a sense of accomplishment that might help you fill fulfilled at the end of another day spent in isolation. Don’t forget that you can also sew yourself a mask with what you have at hand. You don’t even need a machine, you can do it by hand and learn everything about patience and pinpricks.

Write Out Your Social Distancing Feelings

Okay, writing is not for everyone, but it can be helpful, especially in such harrowing times. It doesn’t even have to be coherent to work.
In times when people are losing their loved ones, their jobs, and any semblance of normality in their lives, it seems awfully shallow to whine about those missed drinks with friends and that killer party you were supposed to attend.

But extroverts or introverts, we’re all entitled to that frustration and feeling helpless. Instead of feeling guilty for having our own feelings, we can share them with a blank piece of paper. Let it all out without bottling them or turning them into “first world problems” when others are having it harder than us.

Step Up Your Game

What’s probably the hardest during social distancing, and among the media noise that’s being excessively generated, is mental concentration. While the above-mentioned activities don’t really require you to be fully concentrated, the following suggestions might. Proceed with caution.

  • Take Up an Online Course

There are lots of options when it comes to polishing or broadening your skillset. The web is filled with online courses. I’ve personally taken several on Udemy and have been quite happy with that.

Learn graphic design or take up writing. Polish your soft skills or learn a new language. The options are limitless.

  • Earn on the Side

From my own personal experience, many professions in the same field as mine (I’m a copywriter, remember) have not been affected by the health crisis. You are probably working from home, as hard as before.

But joining platforms like Freelancer, Fiverr, and Upwork can give us and many others to make some money on the side. Whether it would be graphic design, copywriting, transcribing documents, translations from and to your native language, or some basic data input, anyone can try.

I’m currently managing people who’re using these platforms as a secondary (or even primary) source of income. Some have turned to them because of the economic difficulties caused by the COVID-19 crisis.

Just make sure of two things. First, don’t be too trusting when it comes to accepting projects and carefully read all the FAQs and documentation available. Second, keep realistic expectations of payments.

Stare Blankly Into Space

Literally. We’re all coping with the current reality however we can. You don’t have to emerge from all of this more skilled, more inspired or kickstarting your personal business. If you feel like it, just stare blankly into space.

What’s most important right now is each person’s mental well-being. If keeping busy is your thing, good for you. If keeping calm is your thing, keep doing it.

One Thing’s For Sure – Social Distancing Will End

If you’re an extrovert wondering how introverts are doing it, how they are filling up all that me-time they have, that’s an example coming from the source.

If you still have time left after hanging out with friends and family online, and you’ve exhausted all the acceptable movies and TV series, these are just a few ideas that you can do with yourself, by yourself while social distancing in service of society.

Of course, after you’ve taken care of all the decluttering, cleaning, redecorating, the sports, the arts, and all the other things that can keep you busy, socially engaged, and physically isolated all at the same time.

And if you miss your favorite drinks out with friends, just learn to whip them at home. Remember that you’re saving lives by simply staying at home.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Share down in the comments, how is physical distancing impacting you and how are you coping with it? Your personal experience might help someone else.

*I actually love hanging out with my friends, but I have tight circles of close people and prefer to meet with them in safe places (the usual dens) and, if possible, without people I don’t know well.

I’m a copywriter by work, reader by heart, writer by night & a daydreamer all year round. I dabble in graphic design whenever time’s left. I breathe words and try to weave worlds.
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