Springtime For Introverts

Coronavirus is a bad thing – but there are upsides, particularly for quiet types

I KNOW we’re all supposed to be in this together but – on the quiet – I have been indulging in a bit of gloating lately.

That’s because the Coronavirus pandemic – though it’s tragic, frantic, dreadful and economy-wrangling – has temporarily created almost perfect laboratory conditions for introverts like me to thrive.

Just like the shy deer, birds and sea turtles who are reclaiming habitats worldwide in the absence of humans, Lockdown Britain has suddenly gifted withdrawn folk the quiet and solitude we need to thrive.

Take yesterday, for example. I slept in, read BBC News, BBC Sport, The Observer, The Athletic and Arseblog. I showered, did some tidying up, a bit of washing, and then walked through the park before shopping for me and the family.

My wife – who’s working from home and so has her all commuting time free – offered to do the dinner, so I had a bath.

And, while bathing, I had enough time to read the moving end of Hilary Mantel’s 875-page The Mirror and The Light.

Someone in The Guardian wrote recently that the book was so long, it was almost made for times like these. But as it took me just 25 days to read, cover to cover, I could easily have handled something even longer.

Despite the world looking decidedly shonky, I fell asleep feeling more relaxed than for a long time”

Having finished it, though, I was short of stuff to do (by which I mean, read).

I turned back to the comparatively weedy, 675 page, All Hell Broke Loose, a World War Two history I’d abandoned pre-Coronavirus, but now felt would be a cinch.

Afterwards, I socialised with the family a bit, watching Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis in Witness.

But, being the only one not drinking, for once, I was in bed – deep into an account of the battle for Kursk – by the time the others’ post-film disco petered out downstairs.

Though chaos and confusion reigned around the world, while the Prime Minister himself was in Coronavirus isolation, and despite the future of the world looking decidedly shonky overall, I fell asleep feeling more relaxed than I had for a long time.

It’s in quiet spaces where introverts feel truly at home, and there’s an abundance of quiet spaces at the moment”

As Sofja Umark, another introvert, says in her beautiful BBC Ideas animation: “It’s in quiet spaces where (introverts) feel truly at home”.

And there is an abundance of quiet spaces at the moment.

These places – Umark calls them “bubbles of peace” that introverts must normally plan for, steal or gouge out of a normal day – are the norm now.

There are fewer planes, trains, buses and cars making a noise. Fewer stressful social and work encounters and, consequently, much less danger of Dopamine overstimulation in the brains of quiet souls.

It must be hard for extroverts, the world not being made in their image, for once”

Meanwhile, sitting writing and working on web pages at home, I am filling up with acetylcholine – a neurotransmitter linked to attention and focus that Umark says “makes us introverts feel relaxed, alert and content, but… barely registers with extroverts.”

I’m even starting to feel sorry for outgoing people. It must be hard for them, the world not being made in their image, for once. In fact, they must be going up the wall…

You pick up the odd thing they say in the media, like: “After this, no-one is EVER going to stay in again” or “There’s going to be the most enormous party.” And you think, meh.

Already, I’m readying myself for the bangin’ all-nighters that will break out in the streets around here in late summer and know I can’t possibly complain, because I will have had a bloody good innings.

In fact, by then, even us introverts might be ready for a bit of a knees up…  

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