The other day, my parents, sister, and I were on a call with a family friend who asked a question that has gained a new level of meaning in this period of pandemic: “How are you?” I responded with a statement I’ve come to hold as true during the past couple weeks: “I’m pretty good. I feel like I’ve just come to terms with living at home.” My sister, on the other hand, replied, “I haven’t. This is terrible.”
Every time someone asks my family how we’re doing as college students amidst the quarantine, I respond, “I’m pretty good. I’m just used to living at home at this point.” My sister responds, “I’m not. This is terrible.”
The difference? She’s an extrovert. I’m not.
For those of us who have been quarantining with others for the past month, personality differences are becoming more apparent every day. While spending time in my room, reading, writing, doing independent work, and playing with my cats makes me content, this kind of alone time drives my sister mad. Though not ungrateful for her good health and her opportunity to be with family, she misses human contact and the ability to experience newness. She’s even started begging my family to try out a new bicycle route.
“You don’t understand, Lily,” she’ll say. “I need to see something different. We do the same thing every day.”
My sister, despite her occasional dramatic outbursts, has been making an attempt to “just be.” She’s trying to accept the fact that she can’t go anywhere. She’s been puzzling with my mom and I a lot recently, an activity that can light me up for hours and usually bores her within 20 minutes.
For a while, it was hard for me to relate to her. And to be honest, for someone who often feels pushed to be an extrovert, it was a nice change for the world to suddenly be thrust into introverted behavior. However, although I’m not itching to get back to social life, I realized her call to “just be” is one that I can challenge myself with too. Even though I’m comfortable in my house, how often do I become transported by the stresses of online schoolwork? How often do I spend time playing games on my phone instead of letting myself enjoy the spring scenery? How often do I take for granted the fact that I have the support of family and friends, most of whom have stayed safe during this uncertain time?
This is a call to stillness for my fellow introverts. We are not immune to a busy mind and an inability to “just be.” As the extroverts we know attempt to settle themselves in a less-stimulating life, let us also take time to appreciate the present. Let us try to enjoy not only being home, but also living a slower-paced life. Though it’s often hard to see any similarities between extroverts and introverts, both groups are caught up in the speed of 21st century living. We could all benefit from silence and self-reflection. Notice the children running around outside. Notice the fresh air of spring. Notice the flavors of your dinner. Notice your breath. Notice.