As someone who used to identify as an extrovert, I was surprised to find that I was not one of them during circuit breaker.
With the recent news of Phase 3 plans possibly being announced in the coming weeks, many are looking forward to relaxed safety restrictions such as being able to hang out in groups of more than five.
Similar to when Phase 2 was about to be announced, the majority of people were excited to finally be able to socialise and meet with friends. However, I was part of the minority that dreaded the end of Phase 1.
I will preface this by saying that I did of course miss my friends and loved ones. After all, I had just spent more than two months away from them.
But the circuit breaker and Phase 1 had taught me something important about myself. It taught me that despite my own efforts to convince myself otherwise, I was not an extrovert!
As someone who studies communication in school, I always felt the need to portray myself in a certain way to fit in. So I emulated the behaviour of social butterflies and frequently participated in school activities. Throughout the numerous camps and outings, I convinced myself that this was who I was and that I enjoyed it.
So when the circuit breaker was announced, I braced myself to face the bouts of sadness and anxiety that so many of my peers experienced.
Strangely enough, it never came.
Instead, after a few weeks of isolation, I realised I felt refreshed, energised, lighter and, to a certain extent, even happier.
I realised that without the constant pressure to look or act a certain way in front of people, I felt so much more at ease. Some of my best days during the circuit breaker consisted of just me strumming my guitar along to songs on Spotify alone in my room – something I never really had the time for since I was so caught up with social gatherings.
I learned that while I enjoyed spending time with friends, I had also severely neglected the side of me that craved alone time to recharge my social battery.
When the time came for school to reopen, I found myself dreading having to return to school physically.
I realised that there were many things I would miss about the circuit breaker days. I didn’t have to struggle through small talk, I didn’t have to think about who to eat with and I didn’t have to go through the dilemma of whether or not I should wave to someone when I see them.
Going back to school, I felt different. I took the approach of “only speaking when spoken to” when it came to people I wasn’t close with and the fact that school events were cancelled because of COVID-19 didn’t bother me like it would have pre-circuit breaker.
Of course, I still enjoyed having conversations with friends and classmates but this time alone was enough for me to realise how crucial taking time off for yourself is.
Some may mistake this with being antisocial but to me, it was more of redirecting the energy spent on random interactions to my closer friends and myself instead.
One of my friends asked me about the change in mindset and I responded with “I’m okay with being alone now.” Being able to say that out loud felt extremely liberating for me.
I came out of Phase 1 with a completely different view of myself. I went from thinking that I was an extrovert that was still figuring things out, to an introvert that was sure of himself.
In today’s day and age where people sometimes feel pressured to forge a new identity for themselves, it is important that you don’t lose track of what truly matters the most: Yourself.
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