As we work through the process of returning to a sense of normalcy, it’s important to recognize that the change is not easy or welcome for everyone. The lockdowns and pandemic of the last few years have indeed caused stress for everyone, but the process of reconnecting with others brings about its own challenges.
Introverts are those who are energized by spending time alone, so many people thought the lockdown would be a great time for them. In the beginning, it was a relief for many introverts to have so much time alone. However, everyone needs human relationships, even introverts! Many introverts were at a disadvantage during the pandemic because they started off with fewer strong relationships. This gave them less social support overall.
Extroverts, by contrast, are energized by spending time with others. This made many assume that the restrictions of the past few years would be overwhelming for them. At first, the challenge for this group of people was severe. However, many of them were able to come up with new and creative ways to maintain the many relationships they already had. They organized online parties of various types, spent time catching up with friends they hadn’t seen in a long time, and built connections with people in new ways.
Now that restrictions are lifting, we are all facing a new set of challenges. Both introverts and extroverts must learn new ways of interacting with people. Large groups of people may be overwhelming after spending so much time at home with just the family. Communication is very different face to face than online. Children specifically are at a different developmental stage now than at the beginning of the pandemic. They have to learn the behavior that is expected for their current age while they may have missed some of the steps in between.
The message in this is that we need to rebuild relationships with patience and grace. Each of us will encounter situations in which we are excited and joyful to be together again, and other times when we are more hesitant and perhaps even fearful. As we take steps forward, may we treat one another with an extra measure of grace.