Alec Marsh

Spare a thought for introverts

  • From Spectator Life

How do you feel about 17 May, when the next major set of lockdown restrictions are due to be lifted in England? Are you looking forward to going out to dinner with friends inside an actual restaurant, or are you breathless with anticipation at the prospect of hosting your first, legal, dinner party for as long as you care to remember?

Quite how you feel about any of the above will relate closely to how strongly you perceive yourself to be either an extrovert or an introvert. If you’re the former, then 17 May, followed by 21 June (when apparently lockdown will be ‘over’), will have you salivating with joy at the prospect of virtually untrammelled social contact. Bring it on.

But if you’re an introvert then it’s the opposite story. For as the government unwinds lockdown, you and those like you the length and breadth of country are going to have to confront an awkward reality: namely, people. And in some cases, lots of them. I happen to be married to an introvert and so I’ve been giving this some thought.

It took a long time to emerge but my wife recently started admitting during our (albeit fairly infrequent) social Zoom calls that she has secretly loved lockdown. No need to attend or even hold dinner parties; a blanket governmental exhortation to reduce or eliminate all social contact or necessity for it; and then, just as importantly, absolutely no corresponding guilt about not doing anything socially at all. It’s been an agoraphobic’s utopia.

I suggest that all of us – be we introverts, extroverts or somewhere in between – rekindle our social lives with care.

Even as an extrovert, having the life of an introvert imposed on me for a year now hasn’t been all bad. I’ve quite enjoyed the gentler pace; the endless walks.

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