I’m very obviously an introvert, and this is not a surprise to anyone who knows me. I avoid socializing with people I don’t know. I often dread occasions that I have to attend for work or out of duty. I have also been called “very private” and “intriguing.” But the truth is, I’d rather just not talk about myself and feel the pressure to be interesting. Instead, I listen to others and encourage them — and that suits me fine.

So, lockdown should have been a breeze for me, right? The ideal opportunity to sit back, relax and revel in blissful solitude? Unfortunately not. Although putting myself out there socially isn’t my thing, I quickly realized during this time that meaningful contact with close friends is fundamental to my well-being and my ability to self-regulate.

As an anxious introvert, being with other people can be draining. But being with those I know and trust can be re-energizing: a chance to lighten the internal load and even to feel carefree for a little while. Without this regular contact being so readily available — or not available at all in the flesh — I have felt the heightened risk of turning inward and indulging my talent for rumination.

What I’ve learned then, is that the company of others is as vital and central to survival for me, an anxious introvert, as it is to the most gregarious amongst us. And, more than that, I am lucky to have a circle of close friends who understand that I may need them to reach out to me if I’ve succumbed to my internalizing tendencies.

After lockdown then, will normal service resume with potential excuses running through my head every time an invitation arrives? Probably. But I’ll hold more dear the time I spend with friends and I’ll express my gratitude for their understanding and nurturing of me.

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