Hurray, I can meet people! Now, when can I get some alone time?

·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Getty Images

To quote James Brown: I feel good, I knew that I would. Britain has opened up. Into a restaurant I leap, on to a beautician’s bed I spring, and into a shop I hop, to try on sunglasses and flirt with the salesperson, who is almost certainly reciprocating for money. Still, in-person interaction with strangers! These days I skip home.

But recently one evening I found myself alone, properly alone, for the first time in a while. No one in the flat, and no obligation to join a Zoom, or go out to care for someone – everyone I love was busy and catered for in this new world. And it was lovely.

Admittedly, all I did was stare at the wall vacantly (does it count as meditation if you don’t mean to do it?), but afterwards I felt refreshed. It reminded me about introverts and extroverts: contrary to the popular belief that introverts are shy and quiet, and extroverts confident and loud, what defines them is not how they act in a crowd but how they feel in one. Extroverts feel rejuvenated, while introverts feel drained; extroverts remain comfortable, while an introvert soon needs a lie-down.

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Could it be that I, a committed extrovert (the person who talks to strangers; the bad influence cajoling others to stay up; the gregarious one with a slight air of desperation, scared to be alone with my thoughts) had become an introvert during the pandemic?

I must admit, I had noticed a small creep, pre-Covid. With increasing age and responsibility, my alone time became more vital.

We will all need time to recover from the last year. Whether that will be outside or inside, with others or on our own, remains to be seen. But what if the pandemic has made introverts of us all?