Confessions of a closeted introvert during COVID-19

I once read that the definition of an introvert is someone who prefers calm, minimally stimulating environments. Introverts tend to feel drained after socializing and regain their energy by spending time alone. This is largely because introverts’ brains respond to dopamine differently than extroverts’ brains.

Many people think because I’m “outgoing” and can make conversation easily or because I’m not afraid to get on stage and talk to hundreds of people that I must be an extrovert. And they would be wrong. I love to be alone. It’s one reason I moved from the big city to the middle of nowhere in New Mexico. If I go for a walk in my neighborhood I will smile and wave at a passerby (because it’s the polite thing to do and my mama raised me right) but I consider it a victory if I don’t have to interact with a single human. I need my alone time.

I am also an eternal optimist, a glass is half full, a Pollyanna and proud of it. So, in times of crisis I always look for the upside. What can we learn? What is going well? How can we help others?

What can we learn?

I think there are so many lessons during this crisis. The biggest one for me is that rules are made to be broken. For example, in New Mexico we have banned the plastic grocery bags and were charging those that forgot to bring their own if the store had to give up a paper bag. Today they will not allow you to bring in your COVID covered bags and are not charging you for the good old-fashioned paper ones.

Taxes due on the 15th of April? Nope. Now you have more time.

I got some takeout from a local restaurant on Friday. When I handed her my credit card she said “Can I just sign the receipt for you?” Sure! It’s safer.

We also re-learned that we should ALWAYS wash our hands. I find it an interesting brand strategy that so many companies are now highlighting their NEW way of cleaning. What did they do before? We don’t want to know. Will they continue to make daily cleaning a part of their routine? I hope so.

What is going well?

I had to run two errands on Saturday. One was at Target. I’ve always loved Target. But now they have a nice greeter that has assured me that the cart I’m about to take has been thoroughly cleaned. I saw employees in the food aisles wiping down the handles on the freezer doors. After a customer left the self-check stand an employee raced over to clean it with sanitizer. I like that world.

Then I went to Trader Joe’s. I had to queue up to get in because they were limiting the number of shoppers in the store at the same time. The line moved quickly and the store was not crowded at all obviously. I had to leave my own bags in my trunk but was allowed to bag the groceries myself. I like bagging groceries. I’m very critical of how others arrange my stuff. When I got back to my car is was easy for me then to put the frozen food IN the frozen food bag!

Liquor stores are considered to be an “essential function.” I agree wholeheartedly.

Netflix gave us Tiger King and it has united viewers across this nation. (Oh, and Carol Baskin totally killed her husband).

How can we help others?

I continue to volunteer with the Cochiti Fire Department as an Advanced EMT. I’m happy to do it since I work from home anyway, I’m basically quarantined all the time. And did I mention, I’m an introvert? Yesterday we stopped at Starbucks after transporting a patient to a hospital in Albuquerque. We like to reward ourselves with nice coffee and YES, the ambulance barely fit in the drive-thru lane. When we got up to the window to pay the employee, she told us the car in front of us paid for our drinks. That’s never happened to me before. Felt pretty cool. She “paid it forward.”

I spoke to a friend this morning that is forced to work from home. She’s going nuts. She explained to me that she’s an extrovert and gets a lot of her energy by getting out of the house and going to an office where she can interact with adults all day long. She has three small school aged children who are “in school” that has also become her office. She told me that she is terrified to lose her job and wants to be seen as essential so she is glued to her computer all the while yelling at her kids to keep quiet when she’s on one of many conference calls. This does not replace the human interaction she got at work. I guess it never occurred to me just how many people are in her situation today.

They “get” to work from home, which to me sounds lovely. I have been working from home for years and could not imagine ever going back to an office environment. But this is her nightmare. And to add to it the uncertainty of her job, her kids’ education. Is she supposed to teach them? Keep them entertained? Both? And work?

Even though most credit union employees are considered “essential” and have not lost their paycheck, it’s not a victory. Either you are so essential you’re still at the branch serving members and at risk. Or you’re forced to work from home, perhaps with school aged children that now need your attention while you try desperately to show your value.

How can we help others? By being kind. Everyone is under stress right now.

Denise Wymore

Denise Wymore

Denise started her credit union career over 30 years ago as a Teller for Pacific NW Federal Credit Union in Portland, Oregon. She moved up and around the org. chart ... Web: Details