I have always been an introvert by nature. Though I have been able to mask it through jobs, or sports, or more outgoing friends, I have always been someone that would ultimately rather stay within myself. It can be a lot of work building up the emotional or mental energy to put yourself out there or engage in social situations that you know will require conversation with strangers. When I am able to fill that tank, I enjoy meeting new people, seeing old friends and putting myself out there for the world. But that tends to be in small doses and then I need a recharge.
Since March of 2020, COVID has drained much of the will to build that energy. Through the start/stop nature of the pandemic and what life is in it and being held somewhat captive within a bubble of a few (some of which are very small humans), it has been increasingly difficult to break out of the self-imposed (if mostly needed) seclusion.
I can’t blame COVID for not being a better friend, or person, but it definitely has made me unintentionally distance myself from the world – not just the physical world, but the emotional world – the one made of connection. I’ll have a thought to reach out or make plans to connect and something will come up and derail it and then weeks will pass and it will fade out like it was never meant to be. And it isn’t because I don’t want it, it just becomes increasingly difficult and gets bundled in with the everyday mass of living that happens within the twenty foot radius of a few rooms and spaces.
This seems to be true for many people, it seems. Or, at least, a large chunk of people who have others to have to help safeguard from a global pandemic, as is the case for me. It creates just enough of a reason, or excuse, to hunker down and hide away. It’s funny to say that, as I still interact with work everyday in a personal, if virtual, way. But that seems to be where the extrovert energy I can muster up goes, and then by mid-day most afternoons I am spent and I give whatever else I can find to my family. It isn’t a depressing state, there is a lot of fun, beauty and happiness that exists in those moments, but it is a state that puts the pre-COVID Cole on ice waiting to be thawed out.
Growing older and having to adult doesn’t help. Of course, that is probably my selfishness talking. But it is hard to put the attention back to myself when my days are so compartmentalized and structured and leave little wiggle to create, write, listen, workout or just stare out into the open space or a dark ceiling. It feels like every moment has to have a tangible productive element to it. Even with this I find myself looking at the time and gauging if I should continue or if I should can it or toss it because I need to give myself the best shot at getting a good night’s rest before the sound of children come waking me up bright and early. But, alas, I continue…for now.
I do find pieces of myself re-entering the fray. I have started listening to music more again and searching out new stuff, which I haven’t done in a handful of years (Talos, Inhaler, HousePlants and Villagers are a few I have come to enjoy, and the new Our Lady Peace is a fun listen). Music is usually the precursor to the best version of myself. It tends to be the trigger for me to draw, workout, create and just be a more full person. But it is a slow process. Next I need to find a way to be more active and get out of full dad-bod mode. I always need to be ready should I have the opportunity to shoot around or be called upon to race unexpectedly (which, thankfully hasn’t happened for years). Or, more realistically, be prepared to chase two ever-quickening children around the block. I have always told myself that I want to be that old guy that is deceptively good at sports still, and that old guy is growing ever closer to reality (if not already there).
This is all just to say that I am sorry…to myself, first, and then to anyone else that thinks I may be a punk or a terrible friend. If you feel that way, well, I don’t blame you, but I do ask not to hold the grudge if you can. Life is just funky these days and it has tipped the balance of my energy and activity. I know, at some point in the near-ish future, I’ll thaw out and the superhero version of me, that is about 20% more extroverted, will rejoin the world. And when that time comes, let’s have a lunch indoors (okay, maybe outdoors for a bit still), or shoot some hoops, or have a coffee.