Am I the only one who is quietly thrilled that I don’t have to leave the house any more? I once saw a poster that read: “Introverts unite! Separately in your own homes”. That’s it, I thought. That’s the dream.
Am I the only one who is quietly thrilled that I don’t have to leave the house any more?Credit:iStockphoto
Now, finally, the dream has come true. For many of us, the layers of our lives have been stripped back, revealing something simpler underneath. Finally, we can just stay on the couch, basking in the sweet relief of not having to do anything beyond the essentials. Finally, we have an iron-clad excuse to cancel all those social engagements that we kind of wanted to attend but mostly hoped would be cancelled at the last minute. Staying home is suddenly not a matter of preference, it’s actually illegal – illegal! – to go to those wearying events.
I don’t want to say I told you so, but those of us who are introverted and/or prone to social anxiety have been telling you for years that the world is dangerous and we’re better off staying at home. We’ve been preparing for this: stockpiling books to read, filling secret cupboards with chocolate, hoarding soft dressing gowns and cosy slippers.
Maybe you’re not naturally inclined to go into lockdown – I can’t understand it but I’ll entertain the idea – but just think of the advantages! The guilt of paying for that gym membership that you rarely use? Gone! It’s hardly your fault that the gym is closed. Obligatory visits to Great-Aunt Ethel who makes the filmy cups of tea and never offers a biscuit? Gone – for her own good! Never before has neglecting family members been such an act of love. Dread of that tedious work meeting? Gone! You can nod along at home, wearing a suit on your top half and trackies on the bottom, a glass of wine just out of sight of the camera.
Staying at home has even eased some of my mummy guilt. It’s no longer my fault that my kids haven’t learned to swim properly – can I help it if lessons are cancelled? These days, I don’t have to feel obligated to drag them to improving sport and music activities and never-ending play dates. I can let go of feeling like I should take them out somewhere interesting on the weekend. The guilt of relying on screens to save my sanity has disappeared, because right now everyone knows that normal rules are suspended and we just do whatever we have to not to kill each other. If that means daily movie marathons, well, I didn’t start the pandemic.
The icing on the cake is that I don’t even have to waste these heavenly hours at home by cooking dinner, because ordering takeaway has become a selfless act of support for struggling local businesses. I may not want to try a deliciously different type of cuisine every night, but if I must…
Sure, you can only enjoy the situation if you and your loved ones aren’t sick, and you have safe and secure housing and a reliable source of income, and you can access the food and other things you need, and you can endure literally endless quality time with members of your household (or time alone), and you don’t read the apocalyptic news too much, and you aren’t otherwise adversely affected by the situation. And sure, it’s a shame that it took a global health emergency for introverts’ natural way of being to become the way forward, but that’s life. With the tragedy unfolding at the moment, we need to find a silver lining somewhere. The streets are silent. The skies are clearing. We’ve been ordered, for once, to do less, and that’s kind of amazing. Especially for introverts.
Jill Murphy is a caregiver, counsellor, writer, and yoga teacher.
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