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Do Introverts Love Quarantine? (Part 2)

Are my introvert friends actually enjoying this time in quarantine? As an extrovert I can honestly say I am not enjoying this time at all. I reached out to my introvert friends to see how they are holding up and if they had any insights to best get through this isolation.

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introverts in quarantine
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As a complete 100% extrovert who at times feels like I am losing my mind, and certainly my energy and joy during quarantine, I cannot help envy my introverted friends. Are they actually enjoying this isolated time? How are they handling it? Is it a dream come true for them, or are they also struggling. I decided to reach out to see if they were thriving during this time that seems cut out especially for them or not. I had so many replies that I split this into two articles. See Part 1 here.

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Chedva Kleinhandler. CEO at Emerj

How are you handling quarantine? 

I’ve been handling it well. Quarantine has caught me after 3 months of weekly IV drips for an autoimmune disease which made me slow down – something that wasn’t easy for an early-stage startup CEO used to splitting my time between NYC, San Francisco and Tel Aviv. Thankfully I was back with my family in Israel. My first priority was normalizing and communicating the situation for my 13-year old, and so we immediately created a daily schedule – in hindsight, that really helped me as well.

Are you enjoying it? Or is it hard?

I have to admit I’m immensely enjoying the time with my son. Usually I spend at least 50% of my time away on business, and even when I’m home, he gets back from school only hours before bedtime. Quarantine has given us “together time” in quantities which I don’t think we’ve experienced since he was 3 months old. It also reminded me how much of a homebody I’ve always been. I’m a real introvert who derives the most energy and fulfillment from my close family and friends as well as 1-on-1 meetings – which I find Zoom amazing for, and in general I favor deeper connections with fewer people over shallower encounters with many people. I do have to say though, that as an entrepreneur, pitching remotely is nothing like creating a connection in person, especially when it’s with a crowd rather than an individual, and I do miss traveling and the energy in a room after a good pitch. While I find the time at home wonderful personally, I can’t ignore the business challenges and concerns.

How are you spending your time? 

Up until this week we’ve had a very strict schedule of morning workout (Just Dance, so fun!), meals, homeschooling and work-time, closing the day after my son’s bedtime with Yoga with Adriene videos (I’ve discovered yoga during quarantine, and I’m so grateful to it), with phone calls and Zoom meetings with the Bay Area some nights (we have a 10 hour difference). This week, as the country mostly gets out of quarantine, my son is back to school and I’m still working from home, since I’m in a risk group. I have to say I miss the structure and his company while I relish my new found productivity.

Any tips for extroverts or those that are having a hard time? 

Try and create a structured schedule that calls for interaction with other people (beyond “how are you holding up” conversations) through social media, gaming etc. See if there’s any way you can be helpful to others from your home – that’s always so fulfilling. This is a great time to get back to that writing or sewing or any other project! But it’s much harder if you don’t limit the time for it. I’ve become obsessed with my daily step count during quarantine even though I’ve never been super active physically – see what kind of movement makes you happier, not for losing weight, just in order to create some energy.

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Helena Fogarty. CEO & Coach at Chief Growth Officer, LLC

How are you handling quarantine?  

I am an introvert. I now have very little time to myself. It’s been an adjustment. 

In truth, at times, I am so over it and exasperated… and then I have to consider the bigger effects of why we’re doing this. Literally, the thing I always dream about (even in the “before times”), is solitude. No one in my space. No one asking me for anything. This was true before becoming a spouse and mom… and is even more so now. 

So… being on lockdown in a NY city place with no time to myself and with constant family time? It’s a real challenge. There are some lovely amazing parts of it. But also, whoa.

What are the lovely parts? Being recognized that we are all human and have other parts of our lives than just work. So if I’m interrupted on a call by my daughter is asking for something, it’s a little more acceptable right now. It doesn’t make it all better, but it’s the reality. 

And lots of cuddles. My daughter is loving this time and it’s special with her. 

Are you enjoying it? Or is it hard?

It’s been stressful. Super stressful. As an entrepreneur, and a mom, I use that school time as focused work time. And I get up very early to allocate the early morning hours to focused work. That’s how I typically create 8-10 hours of solitude and focus time. 

Now I don’t have that school time for focused work, and I actually have to be a teacher and cook, on top of a business owner. It’s a funny time, because those who are not quarantining with family members or roommates, have enforced solitude. (I’m jealous.) And I – an introvert – have enforced family time with no break. 

I would say it’s too much, but it’s our reality, so it can’t be too much. 

I’ve just got to keep my eyes on my goals and keep progressing. 

How are you spending your time? 

Ha! What time? Such a funny question for a mom and a CEO. I’m spending my time the same way I already have, except now I have 2 additional jobs on top of growing my company. I have no time to spend.  

When I speak to other, non-mom people, and they say. “Oh, I’ve taken up learning a new language, or baking sourdough bread, or painting with all my free time,” I get a little miffed. Because my reality is more responsibility, less support, and less time for the things that are important, and more time spent in support of my family.  

Any tips for extroverts or those that are having a hard time?

I hear having the mantra “This too shall pass.” helps. 

No seriously, the best advice I have for anyone is: 

1) Keep your eye on your goals for 2020 – we’re more than 1/2 way through Q2 right now. 

2) Each day see how you can move forward on these goals. 

3) Focus on what you can control and where you can have impact, rather than getting spun out by the political melee and illogical behavior you see. 

We’re going to emerge from this, and we can control how we do.  

If getting or staying in shape was your goal in 2020, keep going. 

If making more money was your goal in 2020, keep going and seeing how you can make this happen. 

If finding love, or making your relationship better was a goal in 2020, are you ready to wait another year? I’m not. Keep going. 

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Jessica Greenwalt. Founder at Pixelkeet

How are you handling quarantine?

Through a series of events I went from living in downtown LA to living in northern Washington, just shy of the Canadian border. The unintentional move across three states while cities were shutting down around me, and not knowing where I was going to live, was stressful. Landing in Washington state, surrounded by water, forests and mountains is amazing! I’ve taken my Pacific Northwest quarantine as an opportunity to start wilderness survival and herbal medicine classes. I hike every day and the weather is beautiful—which is most days this time of year—and I got a gravel bike to explore the trails and cities with. 

Are you enjoying it? Or is it hard?

I really enjoy and appreciate having space and time to myself to work on projects I’m passionate about, read, draw, or whatever the heck else I feel like doing without interruption. Quarantine has both helped and hindered my ability to get alone time. 

I’ve been quarantining with my boyfriend, who is an incredibly social person, and who doesn’t work nearly as many hours as I do, leaving him a lot of free time to show me things he thinks are funny, ask me random questions, bring me wonderful cooking experiments to try, involve me in phone conversations he’s having, and more. Sometimes these are wonderful distractions from work, sometimes they drive me nuts. I’m not sure if this is an introvert thing, but in order for me to produce truly quality creative work, I need long blocks of uninterrupted “flow” time. The fear of my focus time being barged into at any moment, creates low level stress that prevents me from dropping into the best flow states for work. So in this case, quarantine has been hard.

On the other hand, quarantine has cut back the events and outings I would usually fill my day with, reducing the energy I spend on interacting with people, giving me more energy to work on creative projects and self-improvement. I’ve written and read more during quarantine than I have since college, and I’m loving it. I’ve learned more about the natural world in the past two months than I have in my entire life prior. This has been an incredible time for me to expand my knowledge and get a break from the packed social schedule I’d been subjecting myself to while living in California.

How are you spending your time?

I spend most of my time building contribute.to, a platform to help collect and distribute funds to artists impacted by COVID. We’re launching soon, which means most weekdays I barely leave my computer to take a break to eat.

When I’m not working round the clock, I’m developing the skills I need to be a good doomsday prepper. Every two weeks I take a ferry across Washington’s Puget Sound to attend a WildWise’s (https://wildwiseschool.org/) Spring Edibles Intensive course which covers a wide variety of edible and medicinal plants and how to use them. Last week, I stayed at Nettles Farm (https://www.nettlesfarm.com/) where Riley Starks taught me how to butcher chickens. Soon, I’ll be learning how to farm.

Any tips for extroverts or those that are having a hard time?

This too shall pass.

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Julie Fogh. Co-Founder/ Coach at Vital Voice Training

How are you handling quarantine?

One day at a time. The shifting sands mean that it is impossible to plan ahead, so I’ve been forced to find everything I need in the present right now. Letting go of planning for the future has been surprisingly comforting, freeing up my energy to respond to the major changes and shifts that are happening right now. I have been finding moments of joy in very small spaces – choosing to look up instead of down.

Are you enjoying it?

I am enjoying so much about having this time.  For a couple reasons – the time and space I have to process my own thoughts is something I haven’t experienced since the days of being a latch key kid having a summer break. The expansiveness of boredom has been a catalyst for huge changes and learning in the past, and I was really surprised that it still is. This has been manifesting in everything from picking up books I have meant to read to solving tech issues or computer issues that I had just lived with, to finally picking up some writing projects that had been living like forgotten condiments in the back of my head.

I’m feeling a real refilling of my cup, so much so that I realized I had no idea how depleted I had become. Creativity and ability to think in big picture exploratory ways have returned, and I am here for it!

The other major thing that is positively impacting right now is the normalization for other people of my experience. Even extroverts are experiencing zoom fatigue, needing to opt-out of things for any reason has become much more acceptable, the solo activities I have always loved (reading, writing, drawing, crafts, walks) are becoming the norm. I never realized before this how much I had to apologize for my natural rhythms.

The other thing I am loving is the deeper connections I am making during this time. Many people think of introverts as shy, and while I can be shy, that is separate from my introversion. I crave deep connections possibly more so than some extroverts. The culture of just jumping into the real shit right now, letting go of all the “polite” lead in questions, having this be normal is deeply satisfying in my connections. 

I’m also noticing that there is more room for silence. I don’t know if it’s profound as people not talking when they don’t know what to say, or as simple as there is a lag on zoom, so trying to prematurely fill silence disrupts flow, but I am noticing that silence is being taken on it’s own terms, not as a blank slate for someone to decide to fill up with their own point of view before just listening.   

Without trying to live up to an extrovert ideal, I find myself connecting more and joyfully with people. 

How are you spending your time?  

Writing, learning guitar. I take very long walks several times a day, and have long deep phone conversation with friends all over the world, by phone and zoom.  Audio books and podcasts. Strategizing. Trying to wrap my head around events on a daily basis. Building special treats into my days.

Any tips for extroverts who are having a hard time?

As an introvert, I wonder how much of the struggle is loneliness vs. having to sit in your own stuff more than you are used to. For loneliness – so many people want to connect right now, watch parties, Zoom happy hours, book groups, the options are infinite. And people are also picking up their phones! Call a person you haven’t talked to while you clean out your fridge, take a leap to connect with someone geographically different from you! And mostly, don’t be ashamed of feeling lonely. This is a profoundly tough time.

For sitting in your own stuff – journaling is excellent for having a conversation with yourself. Meditation as well. If you can listen to the quiet, you might find a different voice that has been waiting to emerge. You might discover you like different things than you thought you did. If you can look at that as an adventure, rather than a disappointment, I think right now has real transformational potential.

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Kari Clark. Cofounder and CEO at Breakout

While Kari defines herself as a mix of introvert and extrovert, she has actually been doing research on introverts in quarantine, and here are her answers. 

What are you doing to research introverts in quarantine? 

Writing, learning guitar. I take very long walks several times a day, and have long deep phone conversation with friends all over the world, by phone and zoom.  Audio books and podcasts. Strategizing. Trying to wrap my head around events on a daily basis. Building special treats into my days.

We’ve interviewed over 100 managers and workers who have made the transition to remote work. From that research, we found three segments — isolated introverts, social butterflies with clipped wings and the overworked. 

What made you decide to take on this research?

We started Breakout, which helps companies build meaningful connections with their teams remotely, to combat the number one problem remote workers are facing — declining culture and increased burnout. 

What have you discovered?

People miss the social aspect of the office, but we have found that to mimic office social life, you need to have a diverse set of interaction types to reach all employee segments. For example, parents might skip out on game night, but be more inclined to do an idea jam. Introverts might be more up for a 1:1 lunch matching than company happy hour.

At Breakout, we use data and insights about a company’s employee base to craft a custom lineup of diverse events and handle all the details. We know that business leaders right now have bigger fires to put out. 

What were you expecting to discover?

I had no expectations! Just went in with a healthy dose of curiosity

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Tiffany Yu. Founder at Diversability

Proud introvert here! The most important thing I’ve learned is that there is a misconception that we want to be alone. Part of being human is our desire for connection. For me, that means 1:1 catchup calls rather than 25 person Zoom parties. All of that said, as an introvert, single, and living alone, I have appreciated taking this time to turn inward and be with myself. I have rarely felt lonely (solitude is different from being alone) 🙂

By Elizabeth Entin @ WTF Just Happened?!

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