• Michael Gallaugher

Introverts unite! Separately in your own homes!

I snapped the pic above one morning as I was taking a walk as the sun was beginning to rise. Grateful for moments of silence and centering as I began my day. It’s no surprise that COVID-19 has completely upended our way of life as we know it. We all live in a new normal now that among other things likely consists of doing all of the things at home (working from home, staying at home, zoom meetings, online church, online farmer's market ordering, trying out new hobbies with our newfound time, making sure the kids are keeping up with their school work, spending lots of time with family). While for many introverts this scenario of doing everything at home away from other people would be a new found utopia, this change that has completely uprooted our routines and normal ways of life can be terrifying. While we all look forward to this being over, we don't yet have a realistic timeline of when that is going to be. Likely, the ripple effects of covid-19 will continue to be felt for years to come. I am an introvert. That doesn’t mean I don’t like people, I do. But lots of human activity with other humans drains me. Spending time in silence, solitude, and meditation helps center me and gives me energy to engage. Pre-COVID-19, I was used to spending a lot of time by myself. I would get up every morning by myself, I’d ride a bike to work by myself, I’d spend the majority of the day in an office cube by myself, I’d take long walks at lunch by myself, and I’d ride back home after work by myself. My work life was extremely introvert focused and in many ways continued to feed into my introvertedness. It wasn’t until I went through Faithwalking 201 over the past 6 months and intentionally engaged in new spiritual practices that I truly forced myself out of my introverted state. I gave myself a daily task of intentionally engaging with my coworkers. Faithwalking has helped me know myself better, and while spending time alone in solitude is life-giving to me, I’m not supposed to stay in that place forever. Rather, I need to operate out of overflow, and not out of overwork. For me, engaging in both solitude first and in community second are two sides of the same coin. While community engagement can be life draining for me, it can only work through the life-giving practices of time alone in order to work at all. Fast Forward to our new lives of doing everything at home. I very much love spending time with my family. In fact, I have experienced moments of great joy due to ‘hunkering down’ together at home. But I also know myself better now than I ever have before, and I know my tendencies that I will get burned out very quickly if I’m not feeding my soul. What does this look like? This will look differently for everyone as every person is different. But for me, and my introvertedness, this means maintaining my regular schedule of getting up at 6am and engaging in exercise before beginning the work (at home) day. This often means taking a run, a walk, or just intentionally being still. I am able to connect with God, able to think and able to simply be often by movement. For me, this also means getting up and out of bed before I have time to think about why I shouldn’t. Thankfully I have years of this habit built up that I just do it. I also know if I make excuses, or think to myself that I’ll get to it later, the truth is I won’t. I make myself get up at the same time every weekday and I feel like I am a better person because of it. (Full disclosure: today I let myself sleep in. The thunderstorm last night kept me up far too long) By taking this time for myself I am feeding into myself, and taking care of my own needs before I try to take care of others. Over the past couple decades I have very much become a morning person. I typically am awake several hours before everyone else in my family, and I can enjoy the silence by just being still. Perhaps you’re struggling with knowing how to maintain a sense of being? Or sanity? Trust? Hope? Perhaps you don’t know how you can possibly keep up on your kids school work and your own work at the same time. Perhaps this pandemic has taken away every security and has shaken you to the core. I first heard this from my friend Larry Warner: “Self care is never selfish.” I’ve become particularly fond of this saying over the last few years, but especially in this time we are in right now. How can you still show up every day as the best possible version of yourself? You need to first know yourself and know your needs, and secondly take care of yourself so that you can then take care of others. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, it’s ok to take a few moments to engage in silence or meditation. Or be proactive to take a walk outside just for you - before the world wakes up and your day is full of activity and needs all while being quarantined from home.

In whichever way you can take care of yourself is what you should do, and it's likely what works for me may not necessarily work for you. Get to know yourself and your needs if you haven't done so already. You probably have plenty of time to do so now...!

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