Updated: Jan 8, 2022
4 Ways We Can Thrive With a Purpose
All too often I've heard comments about how much easier COVID social distancing must be for us introverts. I can acknowledge extroverts seem to be in scrabble mode without the energy of busy social lives. However, introverts should not be dismissed as an unaffected group. We will be lined up to bust out of this pandemic as much as anybody.
While it is true that many of us do enjoy our family time and alone time to reflect and relax, most introverts also need some social connection, if only for short periods of time with close friends.
The COVID-19 experience is quite similar to the whole introversion journey. Introverts can often be overcome by anxiety. Our challenge is to approach introversion and this pandemic with the aim of not just surviving, but thriving! In both instances, we can push ourselves to aim high, to lean on our strengths to rise above and make a difference. It may not be easy to shrug off the worry of COVID or the societal stigma of introversion, but if we do, along with a good dose of self-compassion, we can truly make our mark!
So what can we do to keep surviving for the months ahead? As with many challenges for introverts, we can lean on our strengths for the answers. In this case, thoughtfulness, loyalty, resilience, and learning. Specifically:
1. Thoughtfulness- Given the frustrations of the past year and the agonizingly slow recovery underway, we can all wilt under the pressure. Laziness can become a pandemic in-and-of-itself. It's easy to sit around the house, staring at the TV, napping the afternoon away, and grazing every time we walk through the kitchen. I've checked all those boxes often.
Yet, we should lean on our strength of thoughtfulness and aim to care more for ourselves. Let's all strive to practice self-compassion. We may not make all the best decisions for ourselves or our family, but we are all just trying to survive. Rather than beat ourselves up, we should pat ourselves on the back for holding it all together.
2. Loyalty- in this case, loyalty to our core team, our family. It's a good opportunity to remind ourselves of the unique chance to make lifetime memories with our families. We will (thankfully) never have such an intense family experience together. These are the times we and our kids will remember forever. So while personal space is likely at a premium after nearly a year, consider refreshing connections:
Playing family games together- we play Farkle and Mah Jongg most nights
Play hide & seek in the house- kids are much more creative than parents
Head out to the state park for a family day in nature- hike, frisbee, picnics
Host special meals including attire and decorations- Italian night, Brazilian churrascaria, make your own sushi rolls
3. Resilience- reflect on the tough times and bounce back through hope. What do you miss most? What do you plan to do once you are vaccinated and a return toward normalcy begins?
I think back to a year ago and all the travel plans we were canceling. We were planning a family cruise and a bucket list adventure with one of my daughters hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro in East Africa. All that vanished last March, so we are anxious to book some action. I think I enjoy the vacation planning almost as much as the trip itself.
We are contemplating the excitement of beating the rush and rate hikes of a post-pandemic travel boom by booking now for the summer versus the prudence of waiting until the world is clearly safer (especially on those floating Petrey dishes). I think planning a trip may be worth the hope even if it has to be canceled or postponed later.
Like many of you, I suspect, our philosophy this past year has evolved. After strictly observing lockdown last spring, we realized in the summer we had to bend for ourselves and our kids in order to maintain our sanity. So we ventured out to some restaurants and stores that we felt were safe, our kids resumed some part-time work, and they connected with friends in a socially distanced way. Yet the burden and need to avoid crowds while draped in a mask remain for the immediate future.
Besides yearning for a vacation, the impact on everyone's daily lives has certainly taken a toll. Contrary to common belief, many introverts enjoy active social calendars. I miss gathering with our small base of friends and family. I especially miss what were once just routine evenings of dinner and a movie. Nowadays I'd be happy with any distraction from the four walls of our house and the neighborhood circuit I trek most mornings.
4. Learning- curiosity and learning are often an introvert's best tool in managing stressful times at parties, at work, and even during a pandemic.
I think the rest of the pandemic offers us all an opportunity to show something for our troubles rather than a write-off. We can aim to not just survive but to thrive with a purpose.
Start a new hobby- art, writing, meditation, woodwork, gardening
Become an aficionado in something odd - many study WWII but how about the War of 1812?
Broaden perspective by reading about different cultures, religions, and lifestyles
Begin journaling your dreams or considering jotting down your memoir
Each provides the opportunity for personal growth and a confidence booster too!
My Simple post-COVID Dream
My COVID dreams are not just about escaping on a Caribbean cruise or a movie night, but simply a desire to live without the anxiety this pandemic has fostered. The apprehension of potential illness for our family members more so than ourselves. The strain of disrupted careers has beset our household. The aggravating remoteness from friends that our kids are barely enduring through Zoom calls and texts. I know we are not alone as statistics often highlight the number of suicides and calls for mental health assistance are skyrocketing.
So I think just displacing that knot in my stomach and the dark thoughts in my sub-conscience with hope and uninterrupted plans will be the most welcome return to pre-COVID times I could ask for.
We can also have hope that the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918 in part (along with the end of WWI) contributed to the Roaring '20s. Perhaps this pandemic will introduce another Roaring '20s period of liberation and carefree joy (without that Great Depression, please)!
In the meantime, this continues to be a long and arduous journey. I've found we must balance the nagging anxiety with some relief and some hope.
Surprisingly, some expected transitions may not happen. We may not return to work in our old office. We may not return to the strip mall for in-person shopping, and we may not return to the gym. The pandemic has accelerated a life without those past staples.
However, many of us will need to prepare for different of transitions like family mo