So, maybe I was a little bit delighted by the concept of social distancing when I first heard about it back in early March. After all, I’d pretty much been doing exactly that for 19 years of my life, and it seemed to be working out just fine.
I was a hardline introvert. I had my classes and my commute and my (fairly) quiet part-time gig in retail, but I spent most of my time at home simply because I preferred it that way. Staying in was my thing, my domain. So, the idea that for the foreseeable future I would more or less be expected to stay in—that I would have to do so, even—didn’t exactly concern me as it did some of my more extroverted peers.
A little springtime staycation? I was game. I had my hibernation gear lined up and ready to go before Twitter could even figure out how to accurately spell coronavirus.
Trail mix? Check. Matching pajama set? Check. Dubiously price-gouged antibacterials? Double check.
I was set for a lifetime in quarantine. Or, maybe not. I think I lasted about two weeks before the novelty of the situation finally wore off, leaving in its wake only passive boredom and a vaguely existential sense of hunger.
For the first time in my life, I’d managed to reach the outer limit of my introversion. Before that moment, I hadn’t even been aware that such a limit existed. This was unmarked territory now, a strange and upsetting wilderness.
There, beyond the reach of a word like “introvert,” I got nostalgic for the world. I started fantasizing about my life before the lockdown. Little memories at first, like thrift shopping, going to the movies, and driving on the interstate at night with the sunroof pulled back.
Eventually, I started to miss work, too. I started daydreaming about the weirdest things: responsibilities I used to fear, plans I used to cancel, people I used to avoid. I wanted it all back, anything to make me feel more like a person and less like a giant, bipedal sea cucumber.
I guess I used to think that I was different from the rest of the world somehow, more prepared, better at self-isolating. I’d always hear about how intensely social humans are by nature, you know, and think to myself: Well, not me. I must be different, a genetic fluke, the last living remnant of some ancient cave-dwelling species. I must not be the right kind of human.
I thought I was a hardline introvert.
Maybe I was right. Maybe, after this is all over, I’ll still prefer a night in, dinner in the microwave, lights out at 10 p.m. But, when I do this in the future, maybe I’ll be able to appreciate how human I really am and how human we all are. How good it feels when we get to be humans together, introverts and extroverts and everything-in-between-overts, existing and bumping into each other, freely, relentlessly, until the end of time.
Grace Pulliam is a 19-year-old creative writing junior from Zachary, Louisiana.