By Tara Levy
“The truth is, rarely can a response make something better — what makes something better is connection.”
Brené Brown, professor, lecturer, author of five #1 New York Times bestsellers
If you look closely at an extrovert’s living room wall, you can see the hashmarks counting the days of their shelter-in-place sentence. Of course, they’ll tell you that “living room” is now a misnomer—they haven’t been doing any living here. They are waiting for living—some less patiently than others.
Meanwhile, introverts are ironically finding fellowship. Solidarity in solitude. We are giddy with hygge. In pre-COVID days, we were reading your tips titled “Networking for Introverts” and “How to Survive a Conference Where You Know Nobody.” So now it’s our turn to share some ideas to support our extrovert colleagues in their time of need.
Misery loves company, and here are some ways to find company and alleviate some misery:
We’ve mastered grocery deliveries and curbside pick-up, but there are lots of ways to connect that are more entertaining and emotionally rewarding. Watch a movie with a shared online stream and chat, play ridiculous games with Jackbox, or meet-up for happy hour or a cheese tasting. And with everyone across the country and world in essentially the same position, you can do these things with more people than your usual social calendar allows, so gather your college roommates, summer camp friends, or your whole family tree for a good time in your Social Distance Social Club.
VP of Fun
No matter what your professional title is, you can promote yourself to VP of Fun and create entertainment for your workmates. By taking on the responsibility for people to connect and enjoy each other, you can channel your extroversion for a greater need. Use some of the same activities that have been working with your friends, or try some new routes. Beyond virtual backgrounds or Snapchat filters, use your video conferencing tech to its fullest with questions, polls and jokes in the chat.
Help Another Out
Convert Help! from an earworm to a mantra. Depending on your personal level of risk, mobility and skill, you can find ways to help others while social distancing. Food banks need and are welcoming volunteers. An infinite number of masks need to be made and distributed. Help a neighbor with an errand or yardwork that they cannot do right now. Write Yelp reviews for the restaurants and places you miss and want to support to make sure they’re still there when this is over.
Hashtags Instead of Hashmarks
Do #allthethings while sharing them on social media. You may be organizing your pantry solo, but you’ll feel the love when the likes and comments start popping up. Pick a hashtag like #selfcare, #hobby or #homeproject and follow others who are doing the same thing. Find your people and plug in.
Clear List. Full Schedule. Can’t Lose.
We may not know when, but there will be a time that you can start hanging out and doing your favorite group activities again. Use this time to eliminate as many obstacles to your social schedule as you can. Finish your taxes. Clean out your closet. Set up automated reminders, tasks and emails. Meet your professional continuing education requirements. Clear your backlogged to do list and work ahead on the things that you can anticipate so you have a clean conscience (and likely a clean house) when restrictions relax.
Your extrovert energy has to work a bit harder for replenishing during social distancing. Adding these techniques to your life now can enhance your already expert social skills to enjoy life on the outside even more…whenever that may be ?.
Tara Levy has been a leader in Austin’s nonprofit community for more than two decades and helps organizations build capacity and navigate change. She is a two-time graduate of The University of Texas at Austin. Her undergraduate degree is from the Plan II Honors Program, and she followed that up by graduating from the University of Texas School of Law.
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