This pandemic has certainly been difficult – sickness, lock-downs, job loss, even the loss of loved ones. There is so much of the old world that is gone it can be easy to get swallowed up in the ‘remember whens.’
To fight this (and to just make it through it all) I often try to force myself to look for positives – silver linings.
And I have to say, as an introvert, having no social expectations put on me has been pretty great! My open calendar brings me a sense of calm and peace; the lack of ‘outings’ makes me feel cozy and recharged; the quiet is lovely.
That is until my partner races into my office, a tornado of sound and motion, to tell me of the latest…everything.
I think to myself (and sometimes aloud) I just saw you 10 minutes ago! How could there be anything else to report?!
It is in these confrontations, where his energy meets my calm, that I realize how differently we navigate the world. He’s not recharged by this calm, quiet, contemplation: he’s drained by it. And I am his life-line to feeling OK.
So, to get to the bottom of it, I decided to sit down and explore how the extrovert (my partner) sees the world, and how it dances, and clashes, with my introverted self.
Here is a window into our conversation with Connor’s answers in italics.
What have been your greatest challenges of the pandemic?
First, I’d say the limitations. Not being able to go to the gym, or the hack factory, or bars, restaurant…even work. Just being limited in the things that I can do and, moreover, the people I can see.
I think also the perpetual uncertainty; I get equal parts envious and angry at the people that I see living more free lives. People who still choose to go to bars or gyms or travel. And I don’t know if they’re doing it right or if I am; which approach gets us all out of this faster? Are my precautions necessary? Will we get out of this? Will we be able to have our wedding? All the uncertainty, even in micro-doses, adds us and has been fatiguing.
That totally makes sense. I think I’m less impacted by the limitations as you are but the uncertainty I can totally relate to….etc. What have been the silver linings you’ve found?
I guess the richness of what we HAVE. The old saying of ‘you get out what you put in’ comes to mind. I feel like our relationship has deepened, as have our relationships with the other people in our bubble, simply because there are so few distractions. I mean my mom even said how much she has enjoyed our now fairly frequent dinners and getting to know us on a new level, which I don’t think would have happened in our otherwise busy lives.
That and the work we’ve been able to get done on the house has been great. Which I know we would not have gotten done as quickly had we not been essentially quarantined here for a year.
What do you find yourself needing from me?
Everything! I mean, I’m joking but there is some truth to it. Obviously I need you to do activities with, or, I mean ‘need’ is a strong word – I wouldn’t die. But I enjoy things more when I can share them with someone. So there’s that, but then also, as you know, I am an external processor so I kind of ‘need’ you to think. Having someone to bounce ideas off of. And I can get that over zoom or the phone or whatever too, but those tend to be more draining.
What do you mean by ‘zoom and the phone are draining’?
Well it’s like eating calorie free sugar – it just makes your body crave sugar more. So talking to someone virtually makes my body think that it’s getting that energetic recharge but really it’s just a screen and there is no energy coming in. I tend to get tired out by virtual interactions.
So I then become your only way to recharge?
Yes. Unless we have plans with other people, but on the day to day, yeah, you are shouldering the recharge burden that used to be carried by co-workers, family, and friends.
How do you tend to handle free time?
I ask what we’re doing! Which I think I’ve gotten better at but my default is to assume that we are doing something together because why would we do something alone? That’s no fun.
But you say you’ve gotten better?
Right. I realize that you navigate the world very differently so I try to remind myself that what seems a no-brainer for me might not be the right thing for you.
So, with how differently we navigate the world, what do you think has helped us find balance?
Clear communication. Like, when you need time to process something and I want an immediate answer, just having you say ‘I need time to process that and I’ll get back to you’ goes a long way. Or on those days where I really need interpersonal interaction more than normal, having that conversation and voicing it is a different way from my normal ‘hey whatcha doin/ come play with me’ gets those needs met. But yeah, just giving the other person an insight into what is going on in your mind is important when you know your minds operate in very different ways.
We’ve done a lot of work on our communication as a couple and I’ve distilled some of the best things we’ve learned into a handy (free) communication guide: 9 Strategies For Better Conversations With Your Partner. Download it below!