Alone together and enjoying it.

So many people are struggling right now. The lack of social activities is really wearing on their emotional well being. People are risking their health to go to events because they’re tired of limited activities. They miss concerts and shows, dinner out, seeing friends and family, going to the movies, and maintaining a schedule of events and activities.

Meanwhile, I’m sitting on the back porch thinking how nice it not having anything on the calendar over the next few weeks except for a doctor’s appointment and work. My blank calendar is a comfort to me. For me, knowing I’m not expected to be social anytime soon is a huge relief.

I know I’m an introvert. A common misconception is that introverts simply don’t like being social. I can’t speak for all introverts, but that’s not really true for me. I often enjoy festivals, concerts, shows, eating out, traveling, and all of the other events, just like most people. The difference between an introvert, like me, and the rest of society it that right now, I don’t find myself missing those events.

As a matter of fact, except for the financial strain and stress of keeping my business afloat, the stay at home orders earlier this year didn’t bother me the way it seemed to bother most people. While I always knew I was an introvert, and being around people wore me out, the stay at home orders confirmed that.

Don’t get me wrong, like most people, I found the stay-at-home orders very stressful. And like many people, I didn’t get much done – again, the stress of not being able to run my retail business in person and adapting it to the virtual world, was an enormous emotional strain. I probably spent at least twice as much time running my business during those weeks, than I would have if I had been physically open.

I wasn’t one of those people who used the shut down to write their manuscript, paint or redecorate their home, learn a new hobby, declutter every room, or any other social media brag worthy thing. Most days I didn’t change out of my pjs until well after 11 am, if ever. Even with all the stress and work, it still confirmed what I suspected, I don’t rely on social interactions the way many others do.

But now that we’re “re-opening”, and have been for a while, many people are starting to complain about the lack of social interactions and inability to resume the life they enjoyed. They miss doing the things that previously filled their schedules. They miss doing things that had become so normal, they never gave them a second thought. They miss doing things that they took for granted, things they thought they could always do.

events, shows, and concerts have been canceled because crowds are health hazards. Restaurants and bars have capacity limits because you can’t eat or drink while wearing a mask, so they need to maintain a safe distance between customers. Exercise classes and facilities, salons, and an assortment of other businesses have similar restrictions in place. Businesses have new mask protocols and cleaning standards. Many banks have eliminated lobby transactions. Travel is restricted, so many vacations had to be canceled. But you probably know all this.

Then there’s me – and others like me. I’m not missing these things. I didn’t attend many concerts. I didn’t often go to large events, I’m just not a fan of crowds anyway. I never prioritized going to a salon for a haircut. My family is scattered across the country, so our family gatherings were few and far between. Going on vacation requires a lot of preparation, as I have to close my shop, or find someone to work it while I’m gone as well as finding a house/dog sitter.

I don’t even miss eating out. Sure, I get tired of the constant menu planning, but in all honesty, with my food allergies, I was already doing this, I just don’t have any “free” days now. Besides, eating out is stressful for me, I’m limited by menu options due to the aforementioned food allergies. I find myself frequently ordering the same thing, ordering an item with out some crucial component, or much to the chagrin of the restaurant staff, with substitutions. Which means the only positive of eating out is that I didn’t cook.

Basically, I’m having a difficult time understanding how hard this time of social distancing is for so many people. Again, having nothing on my schedule is a huge relief to me. I’m actually dreading the day my calendar starts filling back up with classes, events, and obligations. (Not that I want CV19 to stay, this virus has me terrified, but that’s for another day.)

But I don’t consider myself antisocial either. Just because I’m not missing social gatherings and events doesn’t mean I want to live in the woods away from people. Not at all. I prefer grocery shopping in person over online delivery/curbside. I would rather shop local, than online too. I still know I need to see my doctors, and take Charlie to the vet, regularly. I like the sounds of living in an urban setting – which includes the kids screaming when they play, the cars revving when being worked on, the neighbors dogs barking when someone walks by their house.

I simply need time alone to maintain my sanity. I can admit, the best part of my week, pre-CV19, was Friday night. The Goat (my hubby) often went out with his friends, so it was usually just me and the dog at home. I could do nothing for hours – or rather I could do things I liked uninterrupted – watch a movie, eat ice cream for dinner, work on a project.

That is how I recharge, by being alone. The Goat believes that because I’ve always held customer service oriented jobs, I need alone time to recover from idiocy. Maybe there’s something to that. When I worked in customer service for a phone/mail order company, I was a master at using the mute button; but now that I’m working in-person retail, I need to contain my sarcasm and always smile politely. Which leaves me drained and exhausted.

Being alone, allows me to refill and recharge. It allows my brain to rest. I don’t feel lonely when I’m alone either; and I suspect many introverts feel this way too.

Quite contradictory, I often feel most alone in a crowd, when I realize how little I have in common with the people around me. Find a new crowd, you say? It doesn’t matter. Even when I’m with people I like, or have things in common with, I usually just want to get away from the people I don’t know, or don’t know well.

If you know me personally, and consider yourself a friend, don’t take that the wrong way. I do enjoy spending time with my friends, and like most people, friends make life more fun and interesting; and I cherish each and every one. But that doesn’t mean the time I’m with friends doesn’t wear me out. One on one, texting or messaging, chats, the occasional dinner out or gathering, I can manage that.

It’s when things get crowded, schedules need juggled, detailed plans need made that I get anxious. And the social restrictions of CV19 have eliminated those issues; freeing up my brain. The part that was overcrowded with blocks of time, travel times, general plans, and things to do for the event – do I need to bring food, remember ear plugs, take water, research the menu beforehand – no longer buzz and pop with over activity.

I’m sure I might eventually miss some social activities, even pre-CV19 I occasionally wanted to actually go to a movie theater – there’s just something about the big screen and the surround sound. And I’m sure I’ll eventually miss seeing some people in person. But for now, the interactions with people at work, and when I’m running my errands, are more than enough for me.

So for now, I’ll stand united with other introverts, alone together and enjoying it.