Being an introvert has not, relatively speaking, caused that many problems for me.
I have no doubt that I would be more successful as far as any career aspirations are concerned. My inability to managed sustained social interactions isn’t great for getting ahead. And I’m sure there are some amazing experiences and great people I could have met had I had the energy to leave my apartment.
But I’m okay with it.
Honestly, the only part of me that has a real complaint is my liver, which has taken a beating given how much social lubricant it’s had to endure.
The pandemic has changed that.
You know, it’s hard for me to write anything at all during this pandemic. Me complaining about how hard it is being an introvert while we’re all locked in our houses feels so selfish and tone deaf. But I guess here I am.
One of the best explanations of being an introvert I’ve ever heard was that introverts have a socializing tank and that tank is both smaller than most people’s tanks and runs out faster.
The only way for an introvert to refill their tank is to spend time alone…usually a lot of time.
For the last — oh, god — six weeks I’ve been working from home. So has my wife. And our two children are home from school and daycare.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of wonderful silver linings. Our two boys are bonding in a way that they never would have done before. I love getting to spend time with them. I think my wife and I are making a more concerted effort than ever to find time for ourselves.
But, again: I…am…never…alone.
After a few days of having to interact with others (even people I love), my tanks runs dry. In the normal world, taking time away from everything and everyone to refill is usually not a problem. I may not get it all in one lump sum, but I find moments here and there. I find enough to keep me going.
But I don’t have any of that time now. And while my inability to be social has never really been a problem when it’s the rest of the world, it’s very much a problem when it’s my family.
It’s very much a problem when it’s my kids.
When my tank is empty, I have a hard time being present for my kids and I feel horrible about it.
I have never felt bad about being an introvert — not really — but because of our current situation, I do. Our kids don’t know what an introvert is or what an extrovert is. They just know that they want dada’s attention and that dada, for some reason, isn’t giving it to them, at least not with the aplomb that he usually does.
I hate it.
I hate not being able to give our kids all of me. Truthfully, I’ve probably given are oldest son too much of myself over the years. But, you know, we tend to overcompensate for our own childhoods.
And honestly it’s not even giving them all of me — since our 2nd son was born I’ve been forced to find more of a balance in my life, which is great. I can’t imagine how screwed I’d be if I hadn’t. But that doesn’t change the fact that I know I’m not giving them the best of me.
That’s the worst part: knowing what’s happening and being unable to change it. It’s not unlike depression that way.
So I stay up late. I know, sounds like an odd solution. But I have to. I have to stay up so I can have some time to myself, so I can try to refill the tank as much as possible in those few hours I might be able to squeeze in before I absolutely have to go to sleep.
I’m fortunate in that I married an introvert who also happens to understand my family history, so she knows that I will always give more of myself to our children than I probably should.
It’s funny to think that not long ago being stuck in the house all day and working from home would have seemed like a vacation. But perhaps it’s good that it doesn’t feel like that. People are dying. The world is falling apart. It’s very much not a vacation.
It shouldn’t feel like it is.
I just don’t want this to be any worse for our kids than it has to be. I want to make sure that during all this fear and uncertainty they know that I’m there for them, and I want to make sure that I can be.
I’m going to go sit in a room by myself and try to create something during a time when it seems like creating anything other than a vaccine is unimportant. I’m also going to use that time to refuel as much as I can, so that tomorrow I can be the dad that my kids deserve.