I hear some introverts and highly sensitive people (HSPs) saying they don’t want to go back to certain pre-pandemic things like working back at the office, or attending certain social events.
They like having the break from the pressure to be around others when they don’t feel like it. And they’re seeing how much the break has helped them. I can feel it too.
Are you having any of those re-entry dread feelings?
Now is a good time to reconsider how we used to do things, and what we’ll choose differently going forward.
Maybe it won’t be so jarring if you take it slow (like gradually unfurling ferns in springtime) and if you make some conscious plans around it.
Are you making any plans to reduce your stress around this?
I’ll share some questions to help you plan, and I’ll share my own experience and what others introverts are saying.
Some questions to help you prepare:
- Will you ask for work from home options? Such as mostly at home and one day at the office?
- If you’re concerned about asking to work from home more, why is that? Could you address those concerns in some way so that you still can work from home?
- Are you now considering a job change to help you find more of what you realize makes sense for you now?
- What kinds of socializing are a good fit for you (such as small gatherings at home, or walks in nature) and which ones are you ready to mostly avoid?
- Are you now more willing to say no to the kinds of social events that drain you?
- Are you willing to deal with the “fear of missing out (FOMO)” when you don’t actually want to go?
- What are the biggest challenges you imagine with re-entry?
- How might you make those challenges easier for yourself?
- Who could you connect with to talk through your concerns and insights?
But it’s hard to go against the grain…
I know it’s not easy to speak up or go against the grain, and I don’t know your situation. I suspect you have more choice in the matter than you might realize. All these changes have maybe created some new openings.
I think the pressure to go along is reducing already. We shall see.
In my case…
In my case, I am self-employed so it’s completely up to me how I spend my work time. That’s one of the beauties of self-employment for introverts and highly sensitive people (HSPs), like me.
I was already mostly working from home mainly by phone or Zoom, so I only gave up one day a week at a rented office space. Now I think I won’t bother returning to the rented office since I wasn’t using that time much anyway, and now people who once preferred in-person appointments are now more used to phone/Zoom anyway. Some now prefer it. A few times, we have taken a walk outside.
If I worked at a company with an office, I think I would grab this opportunity to push for working from home four days a week, and still go in once a week. I think that would be a good balance for me.
As far as socializing goes, I’ve already been fairly comfortable saying no to what doesn’t feel right to me. Sometimes I stumble into a situation I wish I hadn’t gone to, but I continue to get better and better at following my instincts. Always learning.
I wonder what will happen as the pandemic wanes and we start to have more easing around our in-person options.
I think a lot of that depends on what you choose to do and say about how you’ll work and socialize.
If enough of us speak up about what works best for us, we won’t feel so weird about it. Join me?
The Extrovert Perspective
As I’ve been discussing this on LinkedIn, I’ve noticed some other interesting views from extroverts:
- One extrovert is also dreading re-entry due to how easily she got burned out in the old ways and wanting to find a more balanced way now. A good reminder that balance is something we all got reminded of.
- Another extrovert is concerned that all the introverts will prefer to stay home and not connect in person as much, but he is choosing to trust that it will work out better for all.
My hope and expectation is that we can find a way that works for everyone, for our rest and productivity needs. The key will be to recognize and say what we’d like. Questioning old expectations and forging something new, more inclusive of all styles.
June 2021 Update
I wrote the above post in early April 2021 while the vaccine was rolling out in the U.S., where I live. Now, about 3 months later, most people around me are vaccinated and taking off their masks and going back to more typical ways of being together, but not quite the same as before. There’s a tentativeness, a wondering of what will come, and the workplace remains a bit up in the air.
I notice a new respect for those who keep a distance or don’t want to hug. I like that. I hope it holds.
A lot of workplaces are still figuring out how to have more work from home options, or at least more leniency for those who want that.
I’m still taking a cue from that slowly unfurling fern, taking it slow so I can be steady and strong. I’m enjoying more socializing, in the doses that work for me. It’s been a tough year on our spirits and I still need to honor that. It’s not over yet, and I ache for those in places that are hard hit right now.
It remains a murky time. In the meantime, keep staying true to you as best you can.
I notice lots of people are making big changes in response to this pandemic experience. It’s like responding to a wake-up call (Amen!).
About 4 million Americans quit their jobs in April 2021! Often due to low pay and bad conditions, impossible family care situations, and/or hopes of something better, like self-employment or finding something better thanks to massive labor shortages. A very intriguing time, still unfolding. Check out:
The Great Resignation: Millions of Workers Are Saying ‘I Quit’ (NPR, June 2021)
August 2021 Update
Now the dread is turning into more confusion, with the new more dangerous strains of the virus and less effectiveness of vaccines. We’re in for more ups and downs for a while now. It’s even harder to make work and social decisions right now, for everyone. Big Sigh.
Once again it’s making work from home look better and hopefully more allowable.