January 27, 2021

COVID-19: Why it is hard for ‘extroverted’ introverts


Extroverted introvert during COVID19

Who hates COVID-19? Me, I do! It has ruined 2020 for me. Let me explain why. I am an extroverted introvert. I know you are saying, ‘What the heck is that?’ Well it’s an outgoing or social introvert. Trust me, I had to look it up the first time. Actually, what happened was one of my residency coordinators asked me a question (cannot recall what it was) and I answered, ‘I am an extroverted introvert!’ We both laughed because I was pretty sure I made it up. Seeing that I am a nerd at heart, I looked it up and read about it and identified with it. So I am going to share it with you, with examples from life so that you can see what COVID did to our poor souls. At least we are not as bad as the extroverts. Let’s walk through some of the characteristics:

1. Your energy level is closely tied to your environment.

I see lots of patients for different complaints throughout the week. Yes, people are coming back to clinic. I missed getting to see people in person (already there is a clear indicator of the extrovert side, I mean I was going crazy. I just love my patients!). Each patient is a little different, their personalities drive our visits. I tend to mimic their energy and/or tone. If they are excited and upbeat, so am I. It’s almost odd at how closely they align. Residents (those are the physicians I train) have commented about my crazy abilities to connect with each patient. If I am around my more pessimistic patients, the same thing happens. Funny this is, it makes them laugh. I’m sure its because they are wondering why I am so down in the dumps, but hey it gets us where we need to be. Ok on to the next!

2. You find people to be both intriguing and exhausting.

This right here is so true! I am fascinated by my patients, trainees, families, and people in general. But by the end of the day, I am drained. This isn’t just because I worked all day but rather because constantly doing #1 is exhausting. But somehow none of this stops me from waking up the next day and doing it all over again. Who else feels like this? I cannot be the only one. I am a people watcher and a good listener by nature which hits on being ‘intrigued’ but after having these new experiences it is time to crawl into bed and chill in dead silence. I mean no talking. My husband can’t handle it, but I have learned to tune out noise from living in a household with at least 9 people.

3. Certain people and interactions drain you while others recharge you

My close colleagues know this! It could be a sound, a voice, or an interaction that just doesn’t do it for me. But on the other hand, there are certain people I rock with. No matter what when we get into a room, we can literally talk for hours and not realize the day has come and gone. Shout out to my people (they know who they are). These individuals fill my cup. These are typically also the people who would identify me as an extrovert, until we go elsewhere and they say, ‘Oh you weren’t kidding about being introverted’. COVID took most of this away. We are all staying away from each other. Meetings are over Zoom, telemedicine, no parties – but at least I have my colleagues who go into work daily to do their job and care for the kids.

4. You can be charming but also deeply introspective and reflective

One day I can show up to a meeting, ready to rumble (wrestling reference) and the next, relaxed and chill analyzing what’s being said and done. This transition and switch can both happen in one day (Yes meetings are unfortunately a driving force in medicine as well). Being able to do both has served me well with my patients as well. Sometimes they just need someone who is listening and other times they need me to get them to come out of their shell. Crazy thing is, my mind and thoughts are always going even when I am switching between these two. COVID made this worse though. I stay in my head more than I should, trying to be careful and not make any mistakes that could increase risk or put others at risk. These are good tools to have. At least now with some patients coming back in-person I have the opportunity to utilize them regularly.

5. When you feel rested and recharged, you reach out to others

Probably one of the most consistent characteristics I embody. When I am drained, I am talking to no one including family (husband excluded). Bur when I have rested, ‘hello social butterfly’. It probably annoys people, but I can’t help it. Everyone gets phone calls, surprise visits, or invites to parties at the house. Hubby is more introverted than I am, so when he sees this he is scared! COVID shut this all the way down. It’s actually sad. But I found way around it – Zoom Game Nights, Netflix Party, House Party, and a whole slew of virtual connects. It’s what we got so take advantage of it.

6. You need time to warm up to others in social situations

I am no life of the party, meeting, or social gathering. I rather cling to friends or colleagues I know well. Now if I am in a situation where we are networking and doing ‘small talk’ and something clicks, well then it is instant friendship. Slowly but surely the extrovert side awakens, and the conversation becomes livelier. This isn’t happening with COVID. I am not placed into these situations, so there it goes again killing the vibes. But we should be thankful we don’t have it and aren’t exposing ourselves to getting it. Success for COVID. We lost this one, but we will get it back again….soon?

7. It actually takes less energy to say what’s on your mind than to small talk

Hence, I am described as blunt. It is more draining to sugar coat things. This is my best and worst quality. Not sure what else to say? One thing it does make people laugh. Question is are they laughing at me or with me? Who knows? Who cares? COVID did nothing to change this. Win for me. No fake and dishonest conversations here. Authenticity at its best.

8. You are selectively social

This goes back to characteristic #5. I pick and choose when and if my cup is full enough to sustain social interactions/conversations. And back to 3 because my circle is small. I fill it with those that recharge rather than drain me. My close relationships are important, so if those individuals call to hang out, then I am on it. Well I was before COVID.

9. You have no interest in trying to prove yourself in a crowd of strangers

I am not the person in the crowd that talks loud enough for everyone to hear what they are saying. I do not need to be heard nor do I desire to be, well at least not in social situations. Work meetings are another thing, but still no need to prove to you I was meant to be there. Don’t get me wrong, I will mingle but I am just as content with finding someone I know and chatting it up for long periods of time. Popularity is overrated. With COVID, now we are just virtual strangers. Definitely making me air on the side of chill and relax, talking isn’t necessary. Introvert for the win.

10. You are often confused for an extrovert

I cannot tell you how many times this happens, more so with people I am not that close to. But I’ll take it. I have to work up that energy to be extroverted. But when I do it, people mistake me for it. I am a chameleon and quite adaptable. The later consequences are just feeling drained and dreading the next time it needs to be done. Funny thing is, I thought I was extroverted but later learned it shouldn’t be so draining to be extroverted. It all made so much sense. COVID, thank you for helping me come to terms with this. You did one good thing in the year 2020, now go away so I can get my extrovert on….okay maybe tomorrow!

As you can see COVID has made a huge impact on us ‘extroverted’ introverts or at least on this one. But I am settling into the changes. Some days with relief that I do not need to perform. Other days, wondering when I will get to hug my patients, friends, and family again. One thing I miss about being extroverted and social are the hugs and connectivity. Here’s to hoping 2021 is better!

For more information about extroverted introverts, check out https://introvertdear.com/news/extroverted-introvert-signs/.

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