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First Take

I am an introvert but lockdown wasn’t for me.

Published on May 10, 2022

I, along with many others, considered the lockdown a haven for introverts. But soon the piercing arrow of reality burst my bubble.

Abeen Shayiq 

I’m an introvert girl
In a lockdown world
Life fantastic
It’s….wait, is it though?

Distancing from others, isolation, masks covering the face, no physical gatherings or parties. What more could an introvert ask for? I like my space to myself to be able to be myself. Although a habit of social interaction was there as much as necessary, my mind would always look for ways to escape. So when lockdown began following onset of Covid-19 pandemic, the idea of literally ‘staying away from people’ felt ecstatic. I believed that the energy I used to spend trying to be more social can now be used in my own way and for doing things that I like. Thriving in my own environment without the burden of socialising felt liberating. So the beginning was great, the freedom to be alone had truly manifested in my life. It was the best of times. But it was definitely the worst of times too.

I, along with many others, considered the lockdown a haven for introverts. Soon, the piercing arrow of reality burst my bubble. People were dying all over the world because of the pandemic and everything seemed to come to an end. To be happy with such a dread looming over us seemed impossible. The uncertainty and the lack of knowledge of how to get past this disease made it even more discomforting. Thus the price of this lockdown was quite high. Although I knew the necessity of it, the fact that I did not choose to live like this but rather this lifestyle had to be imposed made it not so exciting anymore. I was in isolation, but not on my own terms.

This also meant that the pressure of virtual presence went on increasing. While physical boundaries were followed, the boundaries of time began to collapse. The expectation to be present online at any given time became a new norm. My own habits had to change. While I preferred staying away from texting constantly, I now always kept a chat window open to maintain work communication. There were times when even taking an off felt awkward and guilt-ridden. This was not what I had wished for.

This lifestyle came with a lack of balance. Workplace, classroom, gym, “meeting” friends and so many different physical spaces were now in one place. My room was not a sanctuary anymore, but instead all these places as per the need. The distinguishing factor that I used to feel between being alone at peace in my room and being around people began to diminish. So, ironically, I felt socially overwhelmed despite the quarantine.

But being an introvert does not mean I do not want to socialise at all. While I prefer my solitary life, this lockdown meant that I could not even see the few people I enjoy being around. The people I am most comfortable with and the ones with whom I can just be myself. Certain interactions stimulate my creativity and passion rather than drain it. Those are the ones I live for. And having those just on the laptop screen had a completely different feel. These almost felt like a meeting. There was no longer a space for a quiet silence in between, a side conversation, or just observing your friends talk and laugh. The pressure was to keep talking, which is not how I function. Maintaining my already few social connections was something I had to adapt to in this new COVID era.

There have been times when I have let people down in terms of availability and even let go of some acquaintances as I could not match their expectations. But the silver lining is that this gave me a chance to introspect which relations I really want to put effort into, and who are the people I really want to keep in my life. It helped me figure out that I do have the capacity to say “no” when people cross boundaries. It helped me see which interactions I did out of compulsion and which I did for my own happiness.

Now that we are mingling again and socialising almost like pre-COVID times, I am glad that I again have some sense of agency as to whether  I want to be by myself or be out there.