Everyone can’t wait to return to normal, except the half of the population that’s like me, an introvert. Like everyone else I can’t wait for things to return to normal. Some things. I’m an introvert but I get excited about seeing family and friends, going out to restaurants, and traveling. I’d like to get back to going to some social events, and staying out past 11 at night. I'm not looking forward to going back to the normalness of working in an office environment.
I’ve been working from home for a year and now I’ll be returning to the office in a week and I’m low-key dreading it. Governor Gretchen Whitmer recently announced that more than 55% of Michiganders have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. This milestone means the state will allow in-person work to return for all businesses. Officials said that the state anticipates allowing all in-person work to resume on May 24.
The idea of working from home and being home alone is thrilling, not burdensome. These periods of seclusion are crucial to my health and happiness. Saying goodbye to my work from home life saddens me, yet stresses and upsets me at the same time. For me, returning to the office means returning to noise, people, and small talk, none of which I’m a fan of.
On top of the fact that my job can be done remotely, I’m not looking forward to going back to the office for a number of other reasons. I work best when I work alone. I work in a marketing group so I know how to work with others, and have had to in the past but I'd prefer to work solo and not maneuver through the social aspect of working in a group.
Working from home, I had more alone time, more peace and quiet, and less of the personal/professional pressures that I find so draining. Socializing with family and friends comes easily but in the office it’s mostly fake smiles and forced small talk. Putting on these facades and engaging in small talk in the office drains my energy more than any other social interaction. Engaging in small talk is work for me because I don’t want to know or care how anyone is really doing.
Being an introvert is like having a battery that runs low and needs to recharge and refuel. The more social interactions I'm forced to face in the office, the more my battery is drained. When I'm maxed out, I need to recharge and reset. Unfortunately for me, I'm usually maxed out before my eight hour day ends.
When the pandemic and quarantine restrictions started last year I knew extroverts who were losing their minds and craving other human interaction. Introverts on the other hand, weren't as pained by the lack of social interaction. I was ecstatic, finally getting the uninterrupted time I wanted, time to focus on work, time to recharge.
With the restrictions, I missed seeing family and friends but definitely enjoyed the ability to go hours and even days without speaking to another person. I thrived, being alone, in my work from home environment. I'm more engaged and committed when I can be my authentic self and work in ways that line up with my preferences. I’m not looking forward to returning to a place where I’m constantly surrounded by noise and people.
I think a stereotype of introverts is that we’re shy, unfriendly, lonely, or socially awkward/anxious. Some think if you’re quiet, you’re timid, rude, or don’t like some thing or someone. These are misleading representations for most of us. We actually like people, just in small doses. We can actually be very entertaining and engaging, but it’s draining.
Working from home is unfortunately a luxury, not a necessity. I question the value of returning to a 9 to 5 office environment. Is getting dressed, enduring a commute, and sitting at a desk in an office really necessary? My vote is no.
As an introvert, do you feel forced to interact with the world out of social or professional obligations?
I'm interested in your answer, why or why not, so let me know in the comments.