Everyone has had a different ‘safer at home’ experience during Covid-19. By no means is this blog intended to make mine look better or worse than anyone else’s. We’re all in this together. But how we deal with it can differ depending on our personal tendencies.
I have the tendencies an introvert. Let’s start there. I live at home alone. Many introverts who live alone seem to be having an easier time than most – or at least the memes say. My life has been strangely similar before and during Covid-19.
Here’s my life before Covid-19:
I’d leave my home around 10/11am and return before 8pm. During the day I’d work from a fast food place, coffee shop, or mall with WiFi due to my home being in a rural area without high speed internet. I typically would see 1-2 people outside of clients during the week. Those encounters would take place at church or a mall. I’m self employed so I don’t have a regular ‘workplace’. I run my own company with myself as the sole employee. There’s no social support system others call ‘the workplace’ and I commute to and from church each Sunday.
Here’s my life after Covid-19:
I leave my home around 10am and return home before 7pm. During the day I work from a private office with WiFi while servicing essential service providers. I typically see nobody outside my clients during the week. The church is closed. I’m self employed so I don’t have a regular ‘workplace’. I run my company with myself as the sole employee. There’s no social support system others call ‘the work place’ and I watch church on the 4G internet from home – both my local church and my home church in New York City. I do short Facebook Lives each weekday. At first I had contact with people online but as the weeks of Covid-19 went on, I did not.
So as one can see, for me, there’s really no difference. Each week I probably see the same number of people that I saw before Covid-19. But I learned something today:
In my estimation we all have a container of social activity / engagement that needs filled each day. Let’s say that for an extrovert it’s the size of a “trenta” coffee cup from Starbucks. Let’s say for an introvert like me it’s the size of a “shot glass”. It’s a common misnomer that introverts don’t need people or engagement, we do. We just need a recharge at a sooner point. What have I found?
So what I’ve found is that in the past my shot glass got filled pretty fast so I’d want to get home, chill, and recharge with my cats. Now I actually have to make an effort to get my shot glass filled, by engaging retail workers, service workers, etc. What I realized is that the same way I have to get my shot glass filled may be the same way extroverts probably have to get their “trenta” coffee cups filled each day, especially on “slow days”. What else does it demonstrate?
Of late I’ve found it also demonstrates the difference between sympathy and empathy. When we try to comfort or tell someone who is going through something we often try to ‘sympathize’ with them but often the most effective encounter comes when we can ’empathize’ with someone. The difference between sympathy and empathy is sympathy says you care but empathy says you’ve been there. It’s why we can talk and pray with a veteran who suffers from combat related PTSD but another veteran who has seen combat can speak to the veteran in a way we can’t.
I believe some situations allow us to become those we have never been so we can understand those who are different than us in a whole new way. If you suddenly find yourself homeless, you will walk away with a new understanding when you talk to the homeless. If you suddenly find yourself feeling the pain of the immigrant due your nationality, you may find you relate to the immigrant in a new way. These encounters create a ‘shared experience’. Could there be a purpose or design in these encounters?
Perhaps each of these encounters are divinely designed to allow you to speak a new message and make you a messenger as your life journey continues. In my case I believe I have a taste of what the extrovert feels like on some days, and ultimately it will help me engage them as friends, clients, and associates in a new way. It will allow me to empathize with extroverts instead of just judging or dare I say thinking I tolerate them. But as the late night informercial says, “but that’s not all” or as the character Lt. Columbo would say, “Ohhh…just one more thing…”
In the end there are actually not just one but two more things I try to remember during this time. They are guiding principles for me during this time and each may have value for those reading this blog today.
First, how can I serve others or add value during this time? I’ve seen many businesses make bold moves such as wireless companies giving customers unlimited data, teleconference companies offering free services, etc. One friend of mine has been having incredible Zoom calls with Entrepreneurial leaders I could never afford to see or engage under other circumstances. What is it that you can do to serve others or add value during this time? This isn’t the time to promote one’s self, one’s own artistry, music, or entertainment. With the world burning and people dying, it’s the time to serve others and find ways to add value. One only needs to watch the late night talk shows to see no guests are promoting themselves or their artistry. They are simply talking and connecting. That’s what we should be doing: talking, connecting, and seeing how we can serve & add value.
The second is more faith based. It’s a combination of things I saw or heard over the last week” ‘When we pray for victory, we are saying “yes” to the battle, and we are saying yes to the subsequent restoration. The Hebrew word for “restore” means “significantly better”. We have a promise from a Christ things will be significantly better, things will be Restored’.
It’s important to understand that what we are going through right now is journey to a place. We are in the most difficult part. People are dying. Sadly not everyone is going to make it. But it is a journey, and every birth, or dare I say re-birth has labor pains, it has a painful part, like labor before childbirth. But after the pain has passed, after we have made it to the other side, things do get significantly better. Put simply, restoration happens.
That’s my journey during Covid-19. I’m sticking to it. As someone with introvert tendencies, I think I’ve been able to see the world as an extrovert sees it some days. In the end I believe it’s to allow me to shift from sympathy to empathy and allow me to relate to others more effectively. I’m challenged both to serve others and know where I’m at on the journey right now. It’s painful now but Restoration is ahead.