Day Twenty-Three: Introverted

It’s hard to dwell on your troubles when this is happening.

Someone once explained to me that the difference between being introverted and extroverted isn’t really about gregariousness. It’s how you recharge your batteries. After a long, intense, and stressful day at work, are you eager to go out with your friends to decompress? Or do you need to hole up for a while with a good book and no company but the cat?

I found this definition entirely useful. It gave me permission to be both outgoing (except for around cool strangers, with whom I am shy) and an introvert.

I’ve been making a real point of counting my blessings during these strange times.

For introverts who haven’t had loved ones come down with COVID19, and who haven’t gotten it themselves, this has been an amazing chance to recharge. I feel like my batteries are full for the first time in many, many years, despite the ever-present anxiety causing a constant drain.

I think even the dedicated extroverts can get something important out of some solitude. Or perhaps it’s that I associate solitude with getting outside and going for a walk, preferably in a natural environment. Everyone can benefit from that, as seen from the popularity of the badly translated (from Japanese) shinrin-yoku, which can mean taking in the forest atmosphere, but is generally rendered in English as Forest Bathing. Who can I talk to about getting that changed to Forest Immersion?

For me, nothing is as conducive to mindfulness as a walk in the woods, or even just the park or a neighborhood with mature trees and limited traffic. Mindfulness isn’t always the be-all-end-all simple fix that we seem to think it is. Yes, it has a lot of benefits, but it’s both a lot harder for some than others, and more beneficial for some than others.

I find that I have to sneak up on mindfulness. My photography hobby keeps me grounded in the present moment, always intentional about looking around and drinking in my surroundings. Dog’s wagging tail and delighted grin are an antidote to negative rumination. And if a dog is unavailable for some reason, just try dwelling on your problems when being vigorously scolded by a squirrel.

Introvert or extrovert, mindful or less so, what a blessing it is to have time and inspiration for long walks. The future is terribly uncertain, and I’m terrified about my job situation. But in many respects the crisis has, itself, given us a mechanism to cope.

Signing off. Take care, and take care of one another.

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