When I was in University, one of the areas of study for me was Sociology. I remember this one particular professor. She was a woman who wore hippie clothing, complete with the Birkenstock sandals, even in winter, and had a thick head of blonde hair that was so curly and frizzy that it was almost an afro style, but not quite. She wore dark framed round eye glasses and had a bit of a British accent. She was delightful! Her sense of humor was spot on and there was nothing, absolutely NOTHING, a person could say that she would deem as ridiculous or stupid. She liked to point out things, coming from a feminist perspective, that would get everyone aware of some pretty major discrepancies of power between the sexes. AND she was honest about how women can both use and abuse power once it is given to them. None of this, “The world would be a much better place if only women were in charge,” garbage that you hear a lot about these days.
One of the things that she had us do throughout the class was make observations. Going into the view of the observer is something that I was quite used to doing, so I found this part of the class quite easy because “observer mode” was something that I had been trained to accomplish in my Shamanic training. I did not get it for quite some time as to why others did not find that easy. Looking back on it, I find that most of the ones who did not find it easy were the ones who were more used to being the centre of attention in their small universe and, being that, were more used to people watching them and their antics than they were used to actually noticing other people.
One of the observational exercises that she had us do was to form small groups, go out into the city, and gather at the corner of two streets that were controlled with street lights. From this vantage point, we were to watch what people did in their vehicles while they were waiting for a red light to turn green. We saw everything from people singing in their cars, to screaming at a red light to turn green already, to talking to a baby in a car seat to picking of noses. Sipping a coffee/tea while waiting was a most frequent thing. Sometimes women would do their makeup (thank goodness this was done while the vehicle was stopped) and sometimes men would call out “pick up” lines to women in other vehicles. The whole thing was weird and fascinating, and because of that I absolutely LOVED the class and aced it. This led me to exploring Sociology further as I went through my other studies.
Now, the reason that I am telling you all of this is to help you to recognize where I am coming from when it comes to what I am about to share. Over the last number of years I have been watching. By that, I mean that I have been watching discussions and comments and even memes that have been floating around social media. In addition to watching these (and, to be perfectly honest, sharing a number of the memes), I have also been observing conversations with people. Conversations that I have had, but also that I have been witness to and have been told about.
I am seeing that there are quite a variety of ways in which people approach life, depending upon whether they are a personality type that can be classified as an Introvert, an Extrovert or an Ambivert. I did a Google search to explore these categories and, under the category of Introvert I found this:
According to psychologist, Jonathan Cheek, who teaches personality psychology at Wellesley College, there are 4 types of introverts — social, thinking, anxious and restrained. Cheek further argues that many introverts are actually a combination of all of the 4 types — instead of identifying as just one of the types.Aug 22, 2019
An Extrovert, on the other hand, is described as a “person who is friendly and outgoing. … An extrovert is a person who is energized by being around other people. This is the opposite of an introvert who is energized by being alone”Jun 11, 2020.
Some of the general characteristics associated with extroversion include:
- Enjoys being at the center of attention
- Enjoys group work
- Feels isolated by too much time spent alone
- Likes to communicate by talking
- Likes to talk about thoughts and feelings
- Looks to others and outside sources for ideas and inspiration
- Numerous, broad interests
- Tends to act first before thinking
Ambiverts, however, are a blend of both:
If you’re a person who feels equally fulfilled whether you’re out in a crowd or at home alone reading a book, you might be an ambivert. Ambiverts have lots of great traits. They’re able to be flexible in a variety of situations, often knowing when to talk and when to listen.Nov 6, 2018
It is also important to include a fourth type, which is the Omnivert:
An Ambivert is someone whose overall behavior is between introversion or extroversion. An Omnivert is someone who can be either at different times.Mar 26, 2020
For the purpose of this blog, however, I am going to focus on the first three types, because I frankly see that the Omnivert category can easily be encompassed in the Ambivert category.
So here is what I have been observing over the past number of years. Introverts have often been targeted in social media and in advertizing as having something innately “wrong” with them, because they rather enjoy the life of a hermit as opposed to being the party person. Extroverts, who, let’s face it, have most of the social connections and are far more outgoing by nature, have often criticized Introverts for being less social in their behaviors. Introverts have often been treated by our Extrovert-slanted society as though they have some sort of a mental illness that they need to just “get over.” Extroverts just don’t understand that the party life or the unfamiliar creates such stress and anxiety for the Introvert that it can be disabling.
Then…Covid-19 hits the streets, so to speak, and the big lockdown happens. Isolation that was supposed to be for just a few weeks extends to a few months and then eventually begins to go over most of the year and, to be honest, will likely go for most of 2021 at the very least. Suddenly the Extroverts don’t know what to do with themselves. People start whining and complaining about having to stay home instead of going out and partying or going to sports events etc. Christmas rolls around and people start complaining about not being able to have their usual 20 or so people around the dinner table, as though this is going to be the way it is forevermore. Extroverts begin to, quite honestly, lose their ever loving minds over this.
Meanwhile, the Introverts are quietly sitting back, reading a book, watching Netflix or some other format of entertainment that they always enjoy from the comfort of their own sofa, and think to themselves, “Ya…I have been training for this all my life.” Do they criticise the Extroverts and insinuate that they have some mental disorder for how they are obviously not coping? No. Often they have compassion for the process that the Extrovert is going through, not because they understand an Extroverted personality, but because they know what it is like to have things expected of them that are just not in their wheel house.
So what do the Ambiverts do in a circumstance such as this? Being one of those personality types, I will share with you the things that I have personally been doing, because I have found that most of the Ambiverts are quite silent about their experiences…because they tend to also be, for the most part, fine with the situation until it blows over. So here is what I have been doing. I have been doing a lot of adjusting of my work, which is normally in person with several people in a day. I now only “see” 4 people a day, maximum, because doing long distance healing and video and phone calls are more exhausting for me than in-person meetings usually are. But adjusting my schedule and seeing less people in a day has also given me the opportunity to see that, prior to the necessity of this adjustment, I was actually over-working myself. So even after Covid-19 is passed and “the economy opens up” I will be keeping my schedule the same as it is right now. I am a much happier person this way.
I have also been spending more time talking on the phone with friends and family, and having video chats with friends and family. This helps me to stay connected even if we cannot get together physically. I have been exercising and eating properly, which has caused me to lose some unwanted weight quite naturally, as opposed to those who “comfort eat” and end up putting on pounds that will take them quite some time to wear off. And I have been contacting friends to go for socially distanced walks along the river and through parks. This allows us to catch up and still be safe as we do so.
I have taken up guitar lessons over the last year and a half, so I have had the time to spend practicing and perfecting that art, and have even created mini music videos of Christmas Songs over the month of December. The thing to know about that is that this Ambivert does not like his voice or his image on camera. That is a thing. It creates stress and anxiety. In person is easier, but having to watch and hear myself, that is quite the challenge. So each song that I performed and shared on social media took about 137 takes to get just right enough for me to be somewhat comfortable with sharing. For Christmas, my partner bought me one of those circle light systems on a tripod onto which you can attach your cell phone to make videos that are filmed from a little further back. This will help in the future for creating videos for social media, be they musical or inspirational. The ones that are there now are so close up you can almost see the back of my throat as I sing. I only did those videos because my music instructor invited me to do so. Admittedly, the first sound clip I did was sent to two very special little boys in my life who I absolutely adore. I did not video record it because that was just too much for me at the time. But their appreciation of the sound clip of Santa Clause is Coming to Town gave me the courage to attempt the video aspect. I still don’t like watching them myself, but others have certainly appreciated them, so there is that.
I only share this about myself because most of the people I know and have talked to about their coping skills when it comes to isolation are either Extroverts who are losing their minds or Introverts who finally feel comfortable with not having to stress about whether or not to go out and see people. I also share this because it might give some of the Extroverts some ideas of things that they can do for themselves to get through this.
One of the most helpful things I find, however, is to not look exclusively at the drawbacks of the isolation. Stop obsessing with how inconvenient it is and how frustrating it is. Start looking at how things can be appreciated. Start looking at positive things you can do for yourself during this time. And remember that, once the isolation is lifted, you have just walked through a few months of the life of an Introvert, and you made it. So perhaps have some more compassion for them when the Extrovert lifestyle becomes the rage once again.