Friday, 22 May 2020

Getting to know myself during Covid 19

It’s hard to find something to post about when you do nothing but spend time at home. We’ve had glorious weather and I’ve been working like a madwoman in the garden, physically exhausting myself in the process. The more I work the less there is to see, the more dry brown earth emerges. The more I dig the bigger the piles of plastic sacks filled with weeds grow, ditto the piles of brush, shrub prunings and whole uprooted shrubs lying in corners which should, by now, be attractive and tidy areas for sitting and watching the garden grow. I shall be ever so cross if I die before I can replant everything next autumn or spring; all that work for nothing.

There is a good thing about being physically active outdoors: it makes for a cheerful and happy state of mind, so maybe it’s not all for nothing. Paul still comes once a week, but now only for two hours, his energy doesn’t last for longer. I almost exclusively reserve the jobs which are too hard for me to do, nothing routine like weeding, he still has strength, even if his stamina leaves much to be desired. Agewise, I could be his mother yet I work harder than he does. I am glad that he officially stops work after two hours and doesn’t drag out his time with me to three hours, as previously, with a rather long tea break in between. There’s no tea break now and I only pay him for two hours. I like Paul very much, he is a nice chap and knowledgeable about plants and I certainly hope he continues to come.

There’s a chill wind today, I’ve allowed myself a day off. Once or twice, during the hot and sunny days, friends have come to call, by invitation, one or two at a time, and we’ve sat in the garden in late afternoon, at a distance of no less than 2 m and enjoyed a glass of wine over a natter. We are all very sensible and do not meet in each other’s houses yet, as per government directive. The incidence of Covid 19 in Valley’s End is minimal, less than a handful of cases and no deaths. Many of us are of retirement age and therefore vulnerable. There is one dog walking acquaintance who turns up once a week or so, who explains her uninvited presence by saying that her dog has wriggled through the bars of one of my gates and insists on raiding my garden. So, naturally, she has to follow him, scoop him up, apologise for her invasion by blaming the dog and look longingly at the chairs on the terrace. I must ask her to come on a specific day, she is obviously lonely.

Which brings me to a question I’ve been puzzling over. Ever since I’ve understood the meaning of the terms introvert and extrovert years ago I’ve thought of myself as an extrovert. I am not shy in company, I face meeting new people with equanimity, I am lively and chatty at parties, I talk to people before they talk to me. At the same time I can take or leave people and find solitude nothing to be afraid of. Sometimes, I am lonely because I lost my soulmate but, otherwise, my own company is sufficient for my needs most of the time. I even talk to myself.

But that is surely not how an extrovert reacts to the present lockdown? I am always reading about people who are terribly unhappy and longing for hugs and face to face conversations, whose loneliness cries out for human contact and who are in danger of becoming mentally ill. These people have all my sympathy, so many are old and alone, feel abandoned and shut out, but I simply do not feel that way myself. What is wrong with me?  When I read these sad stories I question my capacity to empathise, I have no idea what it feels like to be in their shoes. Solitude to me is something good, something to be welcomed. Does that mean I am an introvert after all? Or even more fortunate, I am an introvert/extrovert whenever either state suits me?

Considering that I’ve had nothing to post about I have used an awful lot of words to post it. That’s what Covid does, it makes wafflers of all of us.




32 comments:

  1. You sound like a classic introvert. I am very similar. Love my own company, don't fear being alone. I have friends, quite sociable, but this restrictive time has not been so difficult for me. I have plenty of ways to enjoy my days, and these days with very few appointments are more of a release than a hardship. It's even officially approved!

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  2. Introversion/extroversion is a scale, I think, with varying degrees. I would have taken you for an introvert who enjoys people but finds respite and peace in being alone. I am very much the same.

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  3. The question which led me to realise I am a definite introvert is 'are you energised by people, or do you need to spend time on your own to recharge your batteries'.
    I like people, I am interested in them and enjoy their company (in limited doses). However if I spend much time with people and particularly groups of people I need time on my own.

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  4. I think that you and I are more alike than I thought before. I like the peace of not having to chatter with people, but I also do not want to be alone all the time. I have never been a joiner and push myself to be part of groups. Covid19 has made us all analyze who we are and what we want out of the life we have left.

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  5. I've struggled a bit in isolation. My partner, by contrast, not at all.

    Your garden exploits sound invigorating. I've been taking myself on trips to the shoreline since quarantine began. My beach-combing exploits have refined over the past couple of months.

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  6. I am definitely an extrovert and really suffer from not having the chance to be together with my friends. Thankfully, Zoom has helped me cope. That, and my husband who dispenses hugs freely. :-)

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  7. I am an introvert who has not the slightest problem with quarantine. While I enjoy my friends when we talk, I do not feel their lack when they are gone. I don't think you have a problem at all with empathy and you are fortunate to have private garden space.

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  8. I have a small circle of close friends whose company I enjoy very much. However I do not miss them when they return to their respective abodes across the country.
    In fact I ensure I don't have too many social engagements in a week that would be too much for me.
    And I do not enjoy visits that go on too long...short and sweet filled with quality is enough for me.
    People in general have never once labelled me anything other than an extravert - how extraordinary, as I am and always will be an introvert.
    I too have been working hard in the garden, it does wonders for my mood but not so my back!

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  9. Waffling is not overthinking what you are writing. It is interesting to read of what is in other people's heads.

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  10. I feel much as you do. My husband and I enjoy a comfortable and companionable silence, other than his TV shows blaring. I don't feel the necessity to chatter, plus I don't particularly enjoy small talk about nothing. I do like to go out and about, to thrift stores or a walk in
    the park. Am missing those things, but otherwise am comfortable with myself, my garden and porch swing where I like to read. I think the main thing I'm missing is travel/vacation: nowhere to go, no place to stay, limited eating establishments, and nothing to do. This too shall pass.

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  11. We are indeed getting to know ourselves better because of the covid-19 virus, more precisely because of the stay-at-home orders. I've always thought I am a person who is at peace with my own company for long stretches of time, but I'm truly missing the small contacts with the postal workers, the Starbucks window person. the grocery store clerks.

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  12. You don’t need a label, introvert- extrovert, what does it matter. As long as you are comfortable with yourself and stay true to who you are. Nobody is just one thing. We all have a few personalities depending upon the setting we are in. . People think of me as an extrovert because I enjoy the company of people and love to talk and listen to others. What they don’t know is that I am an outgoing person who walks around with a stone in my stomach.

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  13. Each line had me nodding and agreeing. As usual with you. Wanting to copy/paste each one in comments as a 'me too' But I shall content myself with just one at end after thanking you again for walking the path a bit ahead of me and showing it can be done with self possession and grace. Now your own line echoed: "These people have all my sympathy, so many are old and alone, feel abandoned and shut out, but I simply do not feel that way myself. What is wrong with me? When I read these sad stories I question my capacity to empathize, I have no idea what it feels like to be in their shoes. Solitude to me is something good, something to be welcomed. Does that mean I am an introvert after all? Or even more fortunate, I am an introvert/extrovert whenever either state suits me?" #MeToo

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  14. Being self-sufficient when it comes to company is a good thing, therefore I would answer your (rhetorical) question 'What is wrong with me?' with 'Nothing!'
    For me, the trick lies in finding the right balance. I thrive at parties and when meeting my friends at the pub etc., but I also need a lot of time and space to myself; it has always been that way, even as a child (not that I went to the pub as a child, but you get the idea).
    Ever since lockdown has begun, I have still been seeing O.K. most weekends, and we have just spent 1 1/2 weeks off work together. Afterwards, being home on my own feels good, too - but maybe it would feel different about it if I did not know that we'll see each other again the next weekend.
    Loneliness is a terrible state of mind.

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  15. Friko and waffling do not belong in the same sentence. Your remarks have chimed with many.

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  16. Love every word you said, friend Friko. I work long hours and when off, I so enjoy just being quiet and by myself and with cat Theo Thunderbutt:) … and sometimes I cook yummy food and sometimes I sleep in and sometimes I cry cuz I miss my family and sometimes I jump into the car and drive many miles for many hours just to see the ocean again … anyway … glad you are well. Much love and socially distant "knuddles". cat.

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  17. Well done, Friko. I enjoyed reading this. As for Covid-19, Miriam and I have weathered it well, I believe. We enjoy each other's company and both have lots to do. Until very recently, I have not greatly missed socialization, but I must confess that I am now ready to sit down with friends and have dinner. That may not be possible for a while yet, however.

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  18. Nothing much has changed for us..just being unable to use the car for two days a week - one of them a Saturday!
    I do miss having friends over for dinner...cooking for two doesn't allow for the same range of dishes....but apart from that life just trundles on.

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  19. Hi Friko - I'm quite happy with my own company probably because I have lots to do and can quite easily keep myself occupied ... I enjoy going out and about being with friends or meeting up with them ... so can keep going for a while yet. Good to know you've been gardening lots - and I'm sure the time will come when you can plant those earthy spaces up and will be able to watch them spread their wings and brighten our land. Take care - all the best - Hilary

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  20. I've been out more in the last week than the 9 that preceded it. though I am careful to keep distance and wear a mask and I try not to linger in stores. it helps that I live in a rural area. I used to think that I was an introvert, I don't think I'm an extrovert but like you, I can socialize but I also like my own company and solitude just fine. I don't really know anyone so lonely they sneak into a garden. it's gotten too hot to work in the garden/yard for more that a couple of hours in the morning and even then it's hot and muggy. it's summer in the coastal plains of Texas.

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  21. As far as I can see, you're doing it right -- staying sane in this craziness; seeing friends one at a time, easy; doing something you love. Well done! I'm good with this. The only person I miss hugging is Rick but I get to see him and the occasional socially distanced friend. Other than that, I'm pretty content, far happier to be save than sorry. It's never boring, either!

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  22. You made me realize I really need a Paul. As for the In or Ext platform, I am pretty much like you in that I navigate both comfortably. Now days, most of my contacts come from the long phone calls I get several times a day. I may need to have my ear fluffed up when this is all over but it is working. I do miss my luncheons with friends where laughter was the main course and have to settle with them one at a time.

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  23. Working in the garden is relaxing.

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  24. The best explanation I've heard is that while introverts can be perfectly socialable, they find that parties and meetings and crowds drain their energy. They need to rest. Extroverts find that socializing actually generates energy for them. They need more.

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  25. It appears that I am in good company with most of your "posters". For me the biggest bonus of my retirement (10 years and counting) is that it has allowed me the luxury of becoming the introvert I was always meant to be. I dare say it has made adapting to things as they now are much easier than it is for extroverts. We introverts should consider ourselves very lucky.

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  26. I have always taken you for a person like myself. A gregarious loner. I have no time for small talk which seems to be the currency of many gatherings, but I have endless time for a good solid debate on others' views on books, concerts, etc. I am never bored with my own company, in fact my inner life is quite rich.

    And I too enjoy the company of others and am viewed as quite entertaining.

    XO
    WWW

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  27. I always thought of myself as an extrovert but over the years discovered that I am a social introvert--not a shy introvert. I always needed my "alone time" to recharge or I felt totally ungrounded after a while. I have never been a joiner, very selective about who I have in my home, and have always enjoyed my solitude. I feel badly for the true extroverts who need the company--they are having the worst time in isolation. Can't say I have ever been lonely. Could connect fine with letters when I moved away from family years ago and didn't know anyone. I have not found isolation difficult. Especially these days with the internet and video calls. I have always had a lot of solitary hobbies and interests, so I am never bored. I can absolutely relate...and don't think I lack in empathy. I hope not! ;)

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  28. People often confuse extroversion with being outgoing. Introversion and extroversion have to do with how you recharge yourself. An extrovert needs to be around people to get their energy and an introvert needs alone time to re-fuel. But you can be a sociable introvert. I am. I like being around people, I miss hugs, but I absolutely NEED time on my own to be okay and too much time with others drains me.

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  29. I agree with some of the others whenever there is nothing to post about you do a fine job at such.

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  30. I don't recall encountering the word "waffler" in all my 70 years. If I can learn a new word, it's still a new world.

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  31. Good to hear you are getting along okay even if waffling a bit between intro and extro:)

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  32. I certainly resonated with this: "There is a good thing about being physically active outdoors: it makes for a cheerful and happy state of mind." I believe that. I also happen to believe it's good for physical health. There's no question I've been much healthier since I began working on boats. I remember one lingering bout of bronchitis and one case of flu -- but for thirty years, that's not much. Everything else has been an accident: a plunge off a dock, a pulled muscle. The usual things.

    As for the introvert/extrovert business, I haven't a clue what I am. I'm rarely lonely, I enjoy my time alone, but I meet strangers easily and enjoy travel because of that. That kind of easy, sociable travel's not going to happen for a while, I suppose. I'm not particularly worried about the virus, but I know others are, and that makes meeting strangers more difficult.

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Comments are good, I like to know what you think of my posts. I know you'll keep it civil.