James Brown sang ‘this is a man’s world’ but in this time of Covid-19, I truly believe that we are now living in an introvert’s world. And about time, I say. As a life-long (and proud) introvert, I am enjoying the fact that millions of people across the world have been forced to slow down, to down tools, to sit on the couch on a Friday night and to, just be.
In a text message this week, a friend asked me how I was coping. Thinking about it, I realised that I am coping rather well with staying home and not going out. It’s not that I don’t enjoy going out and seeing other human beings (I’m not a complete hermit…), however, I’ve always needed a balance between social interaction and time alone. In my teens and twenties, I felt deeply embarrassed by this. I always felt that I needed to be partying more, to be meeting more people, to be ‘louder’. I even sought out counselling for this because I really did perceive my introversion as a flaw. I thought it was something I needed to be ‘cured’ of, as if my need for quiet contemplation and solitude were a disease.
In more recent years, I have accepted my need to recalibrate after being around lots of people, to just sit with my thoughts, to take a break from the incessant chatter of the world. Writers such as Susan Cain and Emily White with their insightful (and I must say, hugely reassuring) books on introversion have helped me enormously in accepting that there is actually nothing wrong with me, that in fact, being an introvert is a gift, that having the capacity to spend time alone and enjoy it, to draw spiritual sustenance from it, is something that extroverts lack.
So, if we are to look for silver linings in this time of uncertainty and forced down time, I think that the next few months could become a beautiful time to teach us more about ourselves as human beings. A time to reflect on the ways that we perceive each other and to accept each other in all our beautiful (and quiet) variety.