Extroverts, Take the Wheel

“How are you hanging in there?”

It was yet another phone call from a sweet, concerned friend checking in on me and the family recently amid this COVID-19 crisis. “I haven’t heard from you in awhile…You haven’t been posting on Facebook like usual and you haven’t texted.”  She was worried about me, knowing that I’m usually the one who reaches out when her friends go dark. I knew why my friends had been checking on me—not hearing from me was out of character. Where had I been hiding these last few weeks amidst this mess of a new reality we all are experiencing? Why had I let social distancing orders and shelter-in-place requirements stifle my usual chipper self? I’ll admit, I wasn’t too thrilled about getting called out on my reclusiveness of late.

This new normal was scaring me. You see, I’m an Extrovert. Like most Extroverts, I’m a social person, busy-by-choice person, outgoing chatty Cathy. One of my favorite things to do is get a group of people together—host BBQs and recipe exchanges, rally the neighborhood gang to come hang out for a cold one in the driveway.  I know the name of the guy bagging my groceries at the local market and wave to strangers driving down my street. I’m the sort of person people describe as having “never met a stranger.” My job outside of home is in sales for a Denver-based interior painting company. That means my cup is filled each day as I converse with strangers! I have been given the gift of interacting with many different people each day and I happen to get paid for it.  So this season of more downtime and relaxation at home feels foreign to me. The idea of holing up like a hermit, all for the greater good is just about as soul-sucking as it gets for an Extrovert like me.

Can you relate?  All of the Extroverts just nodded with a resounding “amen sister.”  The Introverts panicked earlier after they read “converse with strangers.” I get it—the Introverts right now are giddy with the excitement—the reality of several months of working from home, the weight lifted of un-necessary office chit chat or burdensome conversations with the waitress. 

Now, don’t get me wrong—it’s not all doomsday over here at my home.  There are sparks of intense joy I have found throughout my days since this quarantine has begun. My kids might  need to have homeschool everyday for the unforeseeable future, but sleeping in past 6am is glorious. Attempting to remember 6th grade math is the pits, but seeing them capture new ideas and seeing that concept “click” with Mom’s assistance is something I normally do not get to witness on an average day. Mama is off the hook each morning, no filling backpacks, or making lunches; the daily commute to school for drop-off and pick up is a faded memory. I haven’t filled up the gas tank in weeks. I’ve dusted off a few old cookbooks and tackled a few new recipes because I have the patience and time.  If you really stop and think about the positives, there are many. Write them down if you must! (I had to). My inner Extrovert is still grieving, though, and well, chatting with the grocery store guy from 6 feet away feels awkward and inauthentic.

So what’s a poor little Extrovert to do? We take the wheel! Extroverts, we are navigating uncharted waters, but we can become Captain these next few weeks. This virus has threatened a pretty significant piece of our personality, but there are things within our control and opportunities we can create to get through this time. For me, I realized it was time to stop all of the complaining about how unfair this all seems to be—I mean, what good does that do for anyone, really? I scheduled FaceTime chats with family near and far, connected with an old high school pal I hadn’t heard from in awhile. I set up several Zoom meetings with the social groups I’m a part of—and it’s developed into a new routine for me.  I’ve also challenged my kids to be the initiator in their circles—reaching out to school friends and checking in with teachers. And calling Grandma for “no reason” scores major points with the in-laws. (Side note: you won’t have to nag your kids to shower if they actually know they will have to see another human). We all can find the little victories amid the reality of the next few weeks of social distancing. Extroverts, I encourage you pursue outlets that foster the connections your souls crave. 

So Extroverts, take the wheel. We can’t cower or create distance in challenging times.  Originally I had perceived my new stay-at-home reality to be some kind of imprisonment, which is simply a death sentence to Extroverted me. Drastic, right? Hey, what if our part in all of this could be to stoke the relationship fires and keep them burning? We can take ownership of this situation we find ourselves in, and continue to extend our reach and positive influence. Maybe it’s been hard to get motivated and find inspiration. I’m challenging you to not lose hope!  Maybe that first step looks like pausing to write a list of “things I’m grateful for today.” That almost helps me to reset my perspective when I’m feeling blue. Extroverts our duty is to heed the call, champion the fight, rally the troops. 

Looking back, I’m thankful that my normally Introverted friend called me—and in turn, her kindness inspired me to check in on the folks in my circle. Each person I reach out is grateful that someone is thinking about them during this crazy time. Every person on the planet is struggling in some unique way—even the other Extroverts who may not admit it (like me). Not one person reading this has been untouched from the circumstances of this relentless virus—we all have had our individual worlds turned upside down. Changing the narrative means we can create an environment of resilience and wellness within our spheres of influence. We simply choose to be victim or champion. And Extroverts—become the Cruise Director you were designed to be. Take the wheel—and discover an entirely new destination.

Ideas to help you navigate these uncharted waters…you might just deem yourself the “Cruise Director of Good Feels”:

  • Check out John Krasinski (from The Office) sharing only the good stuff on his YouTube channel, appropriately titled, “Some Good News.”
  • Plant some seeds and watch them grow! Most hardware stores are open for business and sell supplies.
  • Grab a new read or funny movie with apps such as Hoopla, Kanopy, and Libby—they allow you to rent movies, e-books, and audio for free. Just link your library card.
  • Need some zen? Play Marconi Union’s song “Weightless.” (10 hour loop version available on YouTube). It’s an incredibly calming song that will center the most type-A person.
  • Need a smile? Ask Alexa, “Give me some good news today.”
  • You will want to binge-watch this one! “The Kindness Diaries” is a series that follows Leon Logothesis around the world as he relies on the kindness of strangers to get him to his next destination. Available on Netflix and Amazon Prime. You’ll want to #LiveLikeLeon!
  • Had a moment of panic at the grocery store a couple of weeks ago and hoarded a few items?Donate extra to your local food bank.
  • Let’s get physical! Download a fitness app. Many are free right now! The Down Dog app is offering free yoga, barre, HIIT, and 7-Minute workouts for a limited time.
  • Send an encouraging email thanking someone you know that works in the medical field.
  • Discover your inner rock star—fender.com is offering 3 FREE months of guitar or ukulele instruction.
  • Grab groceries or prescriptions for a fragile neighbor or friend in need.
  • There may never be a better time than now to adopt a pet! Check your local animal shelter, Humane Society, or Dumb Friends League for a new furry companion.
  • Get artsy! Make sidewalk chalk art in your driveway or paint rocks with encouraging phrases and leave them on your walk around your neighborhood.

Thanks for sticking this out with me! Together, we can all get through this.
PS: Go check on your Extroverted friend ASAP!

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