If you’re a self-proclaimed extrovert like me, you may also be craving human interaction whenever you get extra alone time. Now that Manila is on its second month of quarantine (and the government still not having any concrete plans for free mass testing), I’ve been spending so much time at home that it’s making me lose my mind. With the threat of the coronavirus looming in and having put almost all of my plans for 2020 on hold, it’s been a struggle to process the uncertainty of the situation without spending time with friends and colleagues.
Sure, I’m blessed to be staying safe with my family and the internet has given me different ideas on how to spend my time at home or to cope with the situation, but it’s not the same for someone who’s used to organically meeting new people or seeing a new place for a change of scenery.
Although having some me-time is important, extroverts get so much energy from socializing with family, friends and new people that they end up feeling down or itching for something to happen when they’re alone for an extended period of time. With the coronavirus social distancing measures taking a toll on the mental health of everybody, extroverts must be bearing the brunt of it right? Not exactly.
Studies have shown that both extroverts and introverts are struggling with the social distancing mandate, but extroverts were noted to have coped better with the adjustment. A group of researchers from Greater Divide conducted a study that gave out a series of personality tests that measured introversion and extroversion across a sample of 1000 U.S. adults and their level of agreement with the statement “COVID-19 has negatively affected my mental health.” Results revealed that more introverts were admitted to have experienced mental health issues than extroverts. This may have to do with the psychological resiliency found in extroverts when it comes to a change of situation.
Christopher Soto, a professor of personality psychology, told Forbes that the tendency for extroverts to experience more frequent and intense positive emotions may be a factor that helps them stay optimistic amid difficult circumstances. Moreover, Soto also acknowledged that extroverts may have a large virtual network that they may be heading to more frequently to deal with loneliness and anxiety.
Extroverts, just like me, may be taking this time to reach out to their friends on social media platforms inviting them to play virtual games over the internet or simply just to catch up. Still, this has a strange feeling that has made me hyper aware and incredibly anxious if I’m coming off as too needy and draining on the other end making me overthink about the whole situation.
On the other hand, some introverts like Pallavi Pundir from VICE News don’t see social distancing as a bad thing and have considered it a breather from their personal spaces constantly being invaded from living in an overcrowded city. Other studies, however, revealed that introverts don’t have it so good and have since felt trapped in their own homes because they now don’t have the choice to step out when they want social interaction like they used to.
I stated these studies not to undermine the difficulties and mental health issues of either extroverts or introverts, but to debunk the common misconception that introverts are having a blast in self-isolation and that extroverts are having it worse in quarantine.
We’re all facing the challenges of handling this pandemic differently. While general tendencies can be observed from both introverts and extroverts, it’s not safe to assume that one is better off than the other. While further research still needs to be done on how we can deal with the widespread struggle with isolation and anxiety, it wouldn’t hurt to send your friends a message to ask them how they’re doing, regardless of whether or not their social energy comes from being with friends or staying inside. And despite studies finding extroverts to be more resilient in terms of a crisis, your extroverted friend might just need someone to talk to right now.
Art by Tricia Guevara
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