life, My Faith

Pandemic Confessions of an introvert non-hugger

Y’all. If you don’t know me in real life, I’m a non-hugger. It’s ridiculous enough that people make fun of me. They make it their personal mission to try to hug me sometimes.

I’ve also always been an introvert at the core. And while I do have extroverted tendencies around people I am comfortable with, I recharge alone. I need that alone time. I can’t be around people every day. Going full days without speaking to anyone is fun sometimes.

But corona came and this pandemic has us more than a month into social isolation and I miss people so much. I should be good at this aloneness. I should be all kinds of recharged, but I’m not. I’m stressed and sad and lonely. And I’ve never needed a hug so bad in all my life.

See, there are people I draw energy from, people that recharge me instead of drain me. My people, my tribe breathe life into me. Being around them helps me cope with the world. They are my safety net, and they so often have kept me from imploding. They are the people that are allowed inside my very large personal space bubble.

And then there are my miniBFFs. They are the only people I hug without thinking about it and whether or not it’s awkward. They are people I love to spend time with. But pandemic. It’s hard to explain to a 4 year old hugger that you can’t. It feels like I crush her soul every time and that crushes mine.

The truth is I might become an extroverted hugger at the end of this, if it ends. I mean I wouldn’t hold my breath for that, but I miss people that much. I’m pretty sure I’m going to hug freely for a while anyway. I know the first little I’m going to hug for sure.

The other part that’s tough is my personality. I’m an enneagram 2. This summer, there was a series on the That Sounds Fun podcast about the enneagram and one of the takeaways of the 2 show was this question. Who are you when no one needs anything from you? I said at one time that was something I needed to figure out. Well here we are in pandemic land, where even if someone needed me, they’d be afraid to take whatever it was from me. Germs you know.

So who am I when no one needs me? Who am I when I can’t prove my worth by doing things? Who am I anyway? And is who I am really worth anything without those things? I know the answer to the last one is yes. But something I’m struggling with for a while is the disconnect between what I know to be true and what my heart believes. (I joked there was a Moana angry coconut blocking the truth from reaching where it needed to go.)

Truth is tricky sometimes, especially when you hear so many things all around you. It’s hard when the world feels so unsettled and you don’t know when the tides will shift and which way this is going to go. I feel so much empathy for so many people around me that I’m almost overloaded by that as well. So it’s a struggle.

But in all this I’m lucky too. I’m lucky that my church is online…a lot. I’m blessed that I have friends who check on me, multiple times a day, to make sure monkey brain is in check and I’m ok. I am grateful that my tribe will figure out how to hang out in a parking lot at a respectable distance because we just need each other. I am thankful for porch visits, even when the lack of hugging is hard. Even in the hard, He sees me and He cares about me.

We’re gonna get through this. I just need to remember sometimes it’s just one foot in front of the other, one hour or minute at a time. Sometimes it’s just preaching truth to myself until it gets to the part where it feels true and I know I truly believe it. It’s learning to surrender the what’s next to God and trusting Him with it. It’s all the things.

This season is hard, for the introverts, for the extroverts, for us all. But we have to find ways to be there for each other in big ways without risking anyone’s health. We have to figure out how to show those around us they aren’t alone. That we see them. And that we hurt for them too.

When the night is closing in. Don’t give up and don’t give in. This won’t last; it’s not the end. You’re gonna be ok.

Bryan Johnson & Jenn Johnson

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