What is the difference between an extrovert and an introvert? Many believe that introverts are simply shy individuals and extroverts will talk to anyone and everyone they meet.  But really, the difference lies in where they gain their energy from: socialization or personal time. If you feel more lively around others, you’re most likely an extrovert like me because you draw your energy from socialization.  

Us extroverts have definitely been through hell this year. Well, everyone’s been through hell this year; we’re going through a pandemic! But, I want to focus on the effects that social distancing has had on people, mainly Americans. Because we did not take immediate action like other countries, we still have restrictions (as we should) to protect U.S. citizens. Meanwhile, other countries have significantly fewer cases and have been able to go back to “normal.” So, as much as I want to go back to living my normal life instead of being stuck in my bedroom, I also do not want to put others at risk. 

Though, this does not mean that introverts have had an easier time. Of course, each person’s experience with the pandemic is different and we cannot group all people into categories; but complete isolation is never good for anyone. Surprisingly, I discovered that my time alone has actually caused me to enjoy my own company more than I did before the events of this year and the situation is reversed for introverts. Many of those who enjoyed solitude now crave social interaction, which unfortunately they cannot achieve currently. There have been plenty of studies conducted on how different personalities have reacted to these sudden changes, but I want to hear more from you guys! So, if any introverts, or anyone really, want to share their experience with quarantine, by all means, leave a comment below. For now, let me share my experience with y’all. 

Back in March when this whole mess started, I told myself, “Okay, I can go two weeks in my house! It’ll be hard, but I can keep myself busy.” And then it was April, then May, then the entire summer, and now we’re in the middle of fall. And yes, it was in fact hard. I started binge-watching shows, my sleep schedule was completely overturned (at one point I started going to sleep at 6 a.m.), there were no sports to distract myself, and worst of all, I was alone. Okay, I technically wasn’t alone cause I live with my parents, but y’all know what I mean. I couldn’t see friends, classmates, my boyfriend, or random strangers on the street whose smiles brightened my day. Now, I did not think this would really affect me; like what’s so bad about being alone it’s not like I need socialization. Turns out I do, and so do most people.

Janelle Ringer of Loma Linda University takes a dive into the negative impacts of social distancing in her article, “Dealing with the mental health impact of social distancing.” Never in our lives have we experienced something as drastic as this, as a nation at least. Never has the whole world had to stop and make a complete shift. Ringer states,“Feelings of loneliness and isolation that are exacerbated during social distancing can cause our mental health to suffer.” Being thrown into the unknown of the COVID-19 pandemic caused everyone to feel lost. But, many have developed healthy ways to cope.

For me, I did my best to focus on my classes. As boring as it was at times, it gave me something to work on and made the days pass by faster. I had virtual Netflix parties with friends, drive-by birthday party surprises, and a lot of lazy drives around town, which I absolutely loved because it gave me time to myself with my music and I got to explore the area around me. Once the first few months passed, I was able to hang out with a few friends I knew had kept themselves safe, and that brought so much relief. It’s important for everyone to find what lifts the weight off their shoulders – calling old friends, watching youtube videos, or picking up a new hobby. Losing the option to go out and spend time with those I love brought me down to a state I had never been in. I now know that I will cherish all the interactions I have in the future! 

Stay safe everyone, and stay hopeful. Please take care of yourselves during these unprecedented times. As crazy as it has been, we’ve made it this far and we’ll get out of this stronger!

P.S. For more strategies on how to reduce stress and anxiety regarding socialization, check out the article “Dealing with the mental health impact of social distancing.”  written by Janelle Ringer!