I’m not going to lie, this has been a difficult week. I had a feeling I would struggle with the UK experiencing some lessening of restrictions while watching it from afar and being unable to join in. I was right. Although there are still very strict controls over what people can do in terms of meeting up, at least people can interact with each other. It felt easier when I knew everyone couldn’t see people, because at least we were all in the same boat. It also meant people were more enthusiastic about meeting up online.
Now, my WhatsApp is filled with plans for meeting up for birthday drinks, for a possible hen weekend and pre-wedding plans. Of course, the situation with the Indian variant leaves all of these future plans in a very precarious situation, but I have a more frustrating form of FOMO as I (metaphorically) gaze across the channel.
What makes it harder, of course, is that it’s not like I saw any of these people before we moved to France in the first place. Lockdown III was in full swing by the time I left, so a stroll in the park with a close friend was as close as I got to a send off.
I’ve found myself craving interaction. Being weighed down on a daily basis by the lack of it, burdened by the weird sort of melancholy blanket that saps all my energy.
There have been a few articles floating around in relation to the lifting of restrictions. I’ve seen some that talk about the challenges introverts will face, how they will need to readjust to the ‘new’ situation. As an extrovert, I have the opposite problem. Without other people, I just feel listless.
I know, I know. At the start of that last sentence, maybe you rolled your eyes, or tutted, or stopped reading. I know how it sounds. Say the word ‘extrovert’ and you imagine some life and soul of the party type, effortlessly confident and outgoing in whatever situation they find themselves in.
But that really isn’t me. More than once I’ve been silenced by the sheer pressure of attention, have found myself blushing in front of colleagues and hiding at the periphery when I’m supposed to be ‘networking.’ I came across a definition of extrovert recently that made much more sense to me. That, in terms of energy, you draw it from other people.
I’m sure introverts (and not saying we all fall comfortably into either category) aren’t jolly the whole time they’re by themselves, but they probably find it easier to feel energised and rejuvenated by being by themselves. In contrast, I’m always more enthusiastic and energetic after being around people.
Seeing as I don’t have any colleagues anymore, I seem to have landed myself in an awkward situation. I can’t get back to where my friends and family live without spending hundreds of pounds on tests and quarantining, and I can only go out into this new country and get involved if I get over my fear of sounding stupid while speaking French. There’s also a personality thing there – I find it so hard to be funny, to be me, without being able to express myself in the same way.
So I will do what I’ve done for the last year. Return to a state of waiting. Keep an eye on the news in the hope that my prospects for returning home will get better. Make the most of whatever interactions I have with people, whether in person or not, and suck up as much energy as I can for all my writing, creating and coaching. And maybe muster up the courage to attempt to make some new friends. I am an extrovert, after all.
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