WHAT IF YOU HAD TO BE BY YOURSELF ON AND ON AND ON…
I used to say when I get old, I want to be a hermit in a cave. Now I am old and unless you call a modern two-bedroom apartment a cave, it didn’t come about.
Plus, I am not actually a hermit because they live alone. I don’t — fortunately — as it turns out.
But how did it happen that I am still here all by myself on most days? Am I still in pandemic mode?
It is karma. What goes around comes around. Or as the Oxford Dictionary puts it.
… destiny or fate, following as effect from cause.
It would be silly, of course, to claim I caused the Covid-19 pandemic even if I did dream of being a hermit. That cause did not have the effect of millions of deaths.
We all discovered what it means, and how it feels to be isolated.
Some of us endured being alone for an extended period, maybe for the first time. We hated it.
Even the internet made little difference. Virtual contact with others wasn’t that helpful.
Others of us weren’t upset or anxious. After dealing with surgery recoveries by sitting in my recliner looking at the bird feeder, I mainly felt OK.
We might have discovered we were introverted. We hardly ever wanted to be out there surrounded by others.
Understanding that about ourselves helped us during the enforced times of isolation.
What if you are extroverted? I know many who are driven to associate with people every day.
If you are one of those, you will find it very difficult to be out of touch, especially in person. You have the drive to reach out.
It works for extroverts to constantly line up meets and events that take them to the other’s presence.
Avoiding Covid-19 became a more significant challenge for extroverts. However, the clear and present pandemic danger could not be ignored.
Did extroverts change and learn to be alone?
Not exactly. Changes in routine had to be forced or, at the very least, accommodated from day to day.
Since masking, testing, and treatment have brought some relief from the virus, it gives us a chance to reflect on our being alone.
An excellent Healthline article explores the meaning of the terms ‘extrovert’ and ‘introvert.’ It helps to see these words’ intricacies and understand how they apply to our lives.
A reminder to be more careful about sweeping statements made me think.
There are a lot of myths surrounding the concept of introverts versus extroverts — one of the main ones is that it’s an “either-or” situation. You’re either an extrovert or an introvert. End of story.
After outlining and comparing at length, Healthline reminds us of a significant conclusion.
Your personality is uniquely yours — whether you tend toward extroversion, introversion, or ambiversion. There’s nothing wrong with any one of these styles.
This brings us back to the original question, ‘”What if you had to be by yourself on and on?”
Happily, this will not be imposed upon most of us. Though I am an introvert, I can’t imagine solitary confinement in a Supermax.
Even so, there are times when isolation of some sort becomes necessary.
Here’s a bit of homespun advice. Take it one day at a time, which is not only for 12 Step folk.
The pastor of our church created a devotional journal she named ‘6 Weeks.’ In it is a page for each week of Lent.
It is simple. Each page has a short quote or picture. Then, with the accompanying purple candle lit, we ponder, pray, or think for a few minutes.
There is space to write notes and do a little journaling, but not necessarily for anything permanent, only to slow us down.
Where we find ourselves on the extrovert, introvert, ambiversion spectrum, it works.
Such a device could help any of us. First thing — after getting coffee, of course — light a candle, and make your own space to jot down thoughts.
If you do it, see how you feel after a week or two. I suspect — hope — it will ground you in a new way.