At the start of this pandemic, I heard so many people talking about isolation and the negative impact it would have on people. There were online groups for people to talk to complete strangers springing up all over the internet. I even found myself in a chat group for an hour with a group of women I sometimes do critiques with. Women whose screen names I know, but that’s about the extent of my knowledge about them.
They were nice enough, and we were all of a similar age with similar interests, yet I struggled to find something to talk about. Even talking about myself seemed strained – not that I’m shy, really…it’s just odd for me to talk to people I don’t really know. I’m not a fan of small talk. I admit, I only went to the chat room because I wasn’t motivated to do anything more interesting that night and it gave me a convenient excuse to spend the night on the couch with the dog and not feel compelled to be productive.
So a few weeks went by and I was isolated in my nice little house – seeing only close family and one friend – all from a responsible social distance. I worked from home, taking a 15 step commute to my office and being engaged in my job until quitting time (and often well beyond quitting time). Around week two, something magical began to happen.
I realized I was sleeping 8 solid hours. I had no bouts of my occasional insomnia. My house was tidy, and even the mail that tends to pile up on the kitchen table disappeared. I didn’t feel tense, time pressured, or exhausted at night. I began to feel more creative, but without the pressure to produce something. I became the person I am – free from outside distractions or expectations – and I started to THRIVE.
Granted, I am very fortunate that my job immediately went to remote work – I didn’t have to face the financial stress and pressure so many people are facing. My point in writing this is not to diminish the struggles which are very real out there for so many people. But for some of us blessed with healthy families and some degree of economic security this time has been the ultimate luxury.
I’m an introvert – in a very extroverted occupation – and doing that for a lifetime has been exhausting. Being home and secluded has opened up a whole new world for me – a world filled with imagination, creativity, and a calmness I have never experienced on this level.
For years I have thought I’d be 100 percent okay all by myself in a cabin in the woods. This pandemic has taught me that I was completely accurate. If I find out tomorrow I can’t leave my house for two more years, I’m going to go take a hot bath, drink some tea, and order more cleaning supplies from Amazon. I’m not going to protest. I’m not even going to give it a second’s thought. I’m just going to snuggle in with the dog, breathe a sigh of relief, and get on with entertaining myself.
For those of you who are desperate for human interaction – I’m not without pity. I think it would be horrible to just want to see somebody and have a conversation and be unable to connect on this most basic human level. This isolation is very hard on most people, and I don’t deny or minimize that at all. But when the doors open and we’re once again all together there will be those of us who are struggling to reintegrate into our old lives and ways of behaving. Some of us will go home exhausted after a day of endless distraction and conversation and we will long for the seclusion, for the opportunity to be alone with our thoughts.
Being an introvert has advantages in times like these – so to my introverted pals out there we will adjust when this is over – but I know I’ll be taking a closer look at how I plan to continue to live after having been allowed this wonderful luxury. I know the creative spree I’ve been on will end, but I’ll have to find new ways of reengaging with my (exhausted) creative side.