“How are you doing? You’re probably not that affected since I know you like being alone,” was my extroverted friend’s comment after having a major freakout due to all the social distancing. I was surprised at this observation at first because I felt like I was one more self-isolated second away from a mental breakdown. But soon enough I realized that everywhere I looked there were introverts claiming to be personally fine with the current state of the world.
Being in Miami had exposed me to a certain modicum of expectations for “the outside” and the rainy Pennsylvanian weather was not doing anything for my vitamin D deficiency. While I was not always hanging out with others, I enjoyed being able to discover and appreciate things on my own. I loved doing homework in the campus gliders or finding a nice lowkey spot on campus to read.
The truth was, I was still coping with what it meant to be confined within the four walls of my room instead of being surrounded by palm trees and warm weather. I was dealing with my new reality of being a full-time student while also being back at home with my family. Being alone is a lot easier when I don’t have to worry about familial responsibilities. In a household of five other people, “alone” takes on a different meaning.
After transferring from my first college, Loyola University Maryland, into the University of Miami, I found that I had to reconfigure my introverted tendencies. At my old college, I stayed in more because most of my friends lived across campus. They were more understanding of my reluctance to trek across campus to them, especially if the weather was horrible.
Miami was different. With the nice weather and a majority of my friends living in the same building as myself, it made reaching them more accessible. I became used to this feeling of accessibility that I got from that, this feeling that continued into my third year here.
Going back home and being confined there made me realize just how much I had gotten used to the feeling of being outside and around people. Mandatory recharges from people were still necessary for me to process all my social interactions. But I found that my gradual acceptance of being in a new environment allowed the anxiety I had about being in a new school fade away.
I believe a lot of what extroverts are struggling with, and what my friend was struggling with, is the acceptance of our present situation. Things will not quickly nor easily go back into place. Drastic measures have been taken across the country concerning what our world will look like for the next month–these decisions will most definitely have an effect on what our world will look like after.
I’ve personally found instead of actively fighting against a situation that you have no control over, it’s best to move with it. Can’t have movie nights with friends? Download a browser extension to share streams with friends for a virtual hang out. No wine nights for the girls? Do a group video call and clink glasses against your computer screen (safely)!
Make new routines. Watch YouTube videos if you are having trouble coming up with what that routine will look like. Over the course of this past week, I’ve decided to learn as many recipes as I can. I’ve tried Dalgona coffee, a frothy coffee drink for those mixing their Starbucks concoctions; The Japanese-style souffle pancakes, a fluffier and airy version of your average pancake, and tuna burgers.
So for all my extroverts, write in your journal, make a sketch, bird watch, do some yoga, or cook. Remember that these times are new to everyone, myself included. So take a moment and breathe before you rant to your introverted friends–we’re struggling too.
Zaakiyah Rogers is a senior majoring in screenwriting and media management.