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Tales from an Extrovert — What I've Lost and Missed During COVID-19

You’ve probably read many stories about how introverts have been faring during the pandemic, but what about extroverts?

By Michele Wojciechowski

It seems as if the end is nigh.

And believe it or not, with everything that has happened to all of us in the last two-plus years, I'm not referring to the end of the world. Oh, no. Not. Even. Close.

A group of friends playing cards during game night. Next Avenue, extroverts social isolation
Credit: Getty

That sound you may have just heard was me, and all the other extroverts in the world who have been holed up in our homes, breathing a collective sigh of relief.

I've been an extrovert, well, probably since birth. I joke that I began my standup comedy career when I was five years old, as my aunts and their friends would pay me a quarter to do impressions of John Travolta's character, Vinnie Barbarino, from the '70s show "Welcome Back Kotter."

Having grown up an only child, though, I developed a couple of introvert tendencies — I knew how to occupy myself because I had no siblings. And by "occupy," I mean I was holed up in my bedroom reading. I also did all my schoolwork in my bedroom or on the kitchen table, mostly without interruption.

That sound you may have just heard was me, and all the other extroverts in the world who have been holed up in our homes, breathing a collective sigh of relief.

So that's the part of me that has been able to run a home-based business for more than 25 years. I like working alone. But pre-pandemic, the extrovert in me still got what I needed: I would schedule lunches out a couple of times a week with friends or colleagues. I would run errands. I would even meet friends for tea at a local tea house.

All was good in my world.

Then came COVID-19.

At first, I was in the same proverbial boat as everyone else: we didn't know what it was, we all stayed home (or at least most of us did), and we expected it to be over in a month or two.

I could handle it. My husband was working from home, so we had lunch together every day. It was kind of nice ...

You know, except for the mysterious worldwide plague that was killing millions and sickening millions more.

My First Meltdown

In September 2020, I had my first meltdown about being stuck in the house. I wrote a long diatribe on Facebook. I was completely open and vulnerable. In a part of it, I wrote, "People have been asking me how I am lately — because I've checked in on them. I've been saying that I'm fine.

"I lied. I'm not fine. I haven't been fine for a while now."

It was true. I hadn't been fine. But up until my admission, only my husband, a couple close friends, my therapist and my physician knew.

Besides being outgoing, extroverts get their energy from being around others. That's not to say that we're emotional vampires — not at all. But we get joy and happiness from being around other people, interacting with them, and talking and sharing with them.

While I was lucky to have my husband still working from home, I felt trapped. My anxiety, at times, was through the roof.

So, I asked my Facebook friends for what I needed — contact. I wrote, "I'm an extrovert. And while I'm not comfortable going out and meeting people for lunch or dinner or something right now, I've realized that I need more contact.

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"Other than work calls and talking with Brad and Ernie [our neighbor] this week, I talked with one friend. That was it."

"I'm so lonely. I don't care anymore if this sounds pathetic. I miss getting together with folks."

"Since I can't do that, I'm asking you to reach out. Probably not today, as I'm crying while I write this. But an email, a message here, a text, even a phone call would help me feel more connected."

And my friends delivered. Tons of cards, notes, texts and phone calls came my way. It helped so much.

I miss hugs. I miss playing with our trivia team weekly at a local sandwich shop.

Even though more than a year has passed, I still have one friend who sends me cards regularly. I love it because it makes me feel connected. I also just love receiving fun mail.

Since that first meltdown, I've had a couple of minor ones. But I've got action steps in place thanks to my phenomenal therapist. One of them has been making a list.

My Special List of Things to Do When Life is Safer

I've been keeping a list of things I want to do when life is safer. I know, I know. Just about everywhere has gotten rid of mask mandates now (although some cities have reinstated them), but my husband and I are quarantining with a friend who is immunocompromised, so we're taking it especially slow and careful.

My list is getting me through. Here are just some of the things on it:

  • Never turn down another social invitation ever again. If someone asks, do it! It’s better than sitting around the house. (Note: my husband has told me that this will not last forever. That I will get more selective about what I want to do. But considering how I would love to do just about anything with anyone in the real world right now, I’m not so sure.)
  • Invite friends over every weekend — the kind who don’t care if the house is clean, if we don’t have a big cookout spread, or will be content with ordering carryout and sitting in the backyard or on the front porch.
  • Have regular games nights again. We always laugh until our stomachs hurt or we’re gasping for breath. We need to do that more often.
  • Go to every concert I really want to go to. I didn’t realize how much I would miss live entertainment — both indoor and outdoor — but I do. I really do.
  • Perform live standup comedy again — every time I’m asked.
  • Go to indoor, crowded restaurants, and be happy when you have to apologize to people because you need to ask them to move so you can get to your table.

These are but some of the things I want to do. Because there is just so much that I miss.

I miss hugs. I miss playing with our trivia team weekly at a local sandwich shop. I miss laughing and being silly with friends in public. I miss traveling. I miss seeing theatrical shows.

I miss my extrovert life. In the meantime, I'll keeping watching the COVID stats for my state and praying they stay down.

Of course, I'll keep adding to my list.

And as Vinnie Barbarino would say, "What? Where?" But when it's safe, I'll be adding, "I'll be there!"

Contributor Michele Wojciechowski
Michele Wojciechowski Michele "Wojo" Wojciechowski is an award-winning writer who lives in Baltimore, Md. She's the author of the humor book Next Time I Move, They'll Carry Me Out in a Box. Reach her at www.WojosWorld.com. Read More
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