Did You Miss Your Chance to be Quarantine Free?
The Distance was Good for Me
Social distancing has been hard in a lot of ways. Being without family and friends, regular routines, workplace interactions, and the general buzz of a crowd for an extended period of time has been emotionally draining for most of us.
But for some, the distance created a moment where we could grow into ourselves. Social interactions are draining when you’re an introvert. The world is not set up to welcome introverts. School, work, and everything in-between is done in crowds, with people, and lots of involvement.
There are few opportunities for introverts to thrive, so we often have to make our own. And then we feel guilt creating moments that re-energize us because the world tells us that alone time is selfish, useless, or lazy. Not being in service of others, not being there to interact with others, makes us not good or something, apparently.
I haven’t felt free to take moments to myself without guilt since I’ve been an independent adult. But during quarantine, it changed. My family and I were, of course, concerned about the virus, but I also really liked that I had a built-in out.
I had an opportunity to choose how I wanted to spend my time without being blamed for making that choice. In the beginning, it was invigorating but I didn’t think it would last. I kept waiting, like everyone, to return to “normal.” The family parties, social obligations, and expected presence were always in the back of my mind.
As time passed, and the social distancing recommendations continued, I found more opportunities to make my own choices about how I wanted to spend a weekend or a birthday or a holiday. Without lingering visit requests from parents or others to take up our weekends, my family could make choices differently, more freely.
With this freedom, came emotional lightness. There’s a lot of emotional weight in everyday obligations. Especially as introverts, we constantly feel like we should be responding to someone, reaching out to someone else, making plans, fulfilling plans we’ve made, or being otherwise available. Knowing that I could not be available for people for an extended period of time gave me room to think.
I had room in my brain to make decisions about my health and wellness. I started eating better, writing more, protecting my time, and communicating with my partner about what I needed in our marriage and wanted as coparents. There was so much space for us to unfold, communicate, and practice our wants and needs.
And I’m Not the Only One
I read a story about a gay man who fell in love with his roommate, a woman. He talked about how coming out felt like making a solid choice about his sexuality he thought he had to make. Now he realizes he’s more open to being loved the right way by anyone rather than finding a type of person.
I read a story about a transwoman who finally found her comfort during quarantine. She was able to take a year away from her family so most of them have no idea that she’s transitioned into herself yet, they still believe she was the shell she was carrying around for so long. The shell that was made out of obligations and expectations. The very things we got to escape during quarantine.
It was hard, but it was good, too.
When my older daughter started daycare, she was in a room with a few babies who were a lot smaller than her. The teachers would tell her, “babies need space.” When I had my second daughter, my older would stand back and say, “Babies need space.” I thought it was a funny thing to say because if my behavior can be labeled as anything, it’s an attachment parenting. I thought babies needed to be built, they needed constant hovering, but they don’t. They need space to grow.
People who haven’t become their most comfortable selves, who haven’t found their happy rhythm, haven’t been given enough space to grow.
That was me. Quarantine was a good time to shed societal expectations and really start making decisions driven by my own direct influence. I didn’t have anyone to see the next weekend. Others had no holidays to attend, no parties to throw, dressing differently, dating differently, eating differently, anything differently, didn’t require explanation or accountability. We were free.
I’m looking forward to the end of the pandemic, but I’ll miss the freedom too.