COVID Convos - It’s Hard Out Here - IN Here! - For An Extrovert! A Survival Guide For Those Struggling With Social Distancing

by Michael P Coleman

COVID Convos is a series of original columns conceptualized to give you something else to think about as we manage the coronavirus pandemic. Hopefully, they will provide you with a different perspective about an issue related to the crisis…or a brief smile. Remember, with COVID-19: this too shall pass.

It’s taken me awhile to wrap my ahead around this whole social distancing thing. It’s not obstinance or stupidity on my part — my name’s not Donald Trump, after all — but rather a lifetime of extroversion that gave me such a jolt when I was told that, to help stop the spread of coronavirus, we all need to stay at home as much as possible, and stay at least six feet from other people when we venture out.

Stay at home? Six feet?? It may have well as been six miles. I’m a hugger. A touchy-feely hugger. And when I heard that, in California, we’re just two weeks into a social distancing practice that has been extended until at least the end of April and could last until late spring / early summer, I started to freak out.

Just to make sure you’re caught up, introverts derive their energy from solo activities and turning inward (so I’m told), whereas that kind of thing wears extroverts out. We get charged up via external, outward interactions. And for the most part, or at least for this extrovert, the crowd can’t get big enough!

I love my our introverts. God KNOWS I do. (Yes, I said that in my Harpo / The Color Purple voice), but I’m learning that some of them don’t really get this. In a sense, introverts have been practicing for Coronavirus Season for their entire lives.

Long before we called it “social distancing,” introverts have cherished their alone time and relished in weekends to themselves, curled up with Netflix or a very small group of friends or family. I’ve had the good fortune of marrying two introverts over the course of my life — I guess opposites really DO attract.

One of those introverts, my ex-wife, recently reminded me that her social life really hasn’t changed in this day of social distancing. While she’s working from home now during the day, her evenings and weekends have always been, largely, spent ensconced in her home. And while my husband is more of a social introvert, I have to drag him out of the house on weekends, when he’d prefer to be chilling in his favorite sweatpants in front of a Golden Girls marathon.

But me? I’m out, all of the time. I’ve been working part-time from home since the late 1990s and full time since 2013, and even that was a transition! I joined a gym more for the opportunities for social interaction than anything else. While my blood pressure, weight, and overall health have improved, by FAR I’d say the biggest benefit has been getting me out of the house and in front of a varied group of people every day. Since gyms were shuttered a couple of weeks ago, I’ve struggled to replace that outlet.

Read MPC’s full column.

Click here to connect with freelance writer Michael P Coleman, click here to check out his blog, or follow him on Instagram and Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP


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