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22 Isolation

I made a list of 100 things I should do that scare me. In 2020, I plan to complete all 100.


For all of high school and most of college, I thought I was an introvert, because I didn’t like people. Turns out I just didn’t like most of the people I knew at the time.


I love people. I’m probably the most extroverted person I know. Four out of five weeknights, I’m out of the house. We do dinner with our Bible study group before study; I direct one kids’ choir and assist with another; I help with game nights with middle schoolers; we go to service at our church then work with five year olds; we have enough separate groups of people we play board games with that it’s utterly impractical to meet with them all regularly; I’m actually decent about texting friends to do lunch or coffee periodically; we get together with our families at least once every other week; I take my sister out to do things about once a week; I write with two separate groups of friends; I talk with my coworkers every day; students come up and tell me stories about their lives every day; we travel during our breaks and meet friends who live far away.


Then suddenly there was nothing. Weeks of it.


I know I’m one of a literally billions of people going through the same thing, and I’m one of the unfathomably lucky ones. I don’t have kids, so my time is my own and I’m free to do whatever I want. My husband and I both have jobs that allow us to keep working and having income even through the quarantines. We live in a pretty decently sized house, with good heating and fast internet. I don’t have any family or close friends who are dying of COVID-19 or anything else.


But an extrovert gets energy from being around other people, and like everyone else, I have none.


So isolation is a pretty rational fear for me. I have all the time in the world, which is a more precious gift than I could ever have imagined receiving. But instead of being able to squeeze out every minute for good, I’m slipping into a quiet lethargy, waking up for only long enough at a time to do some cooking or dishes or laundry, and to teach a couple of zoom classes and keep my google classroom updated. All that precious, impossibly valuable time slips by in a way that would normally be quite terrifying for me, but right now I’m happy to watch it go.


It’s foreign. It’s like flushing diamonds down the toilet and breathing a sigh of relief because you really just didn’t want to look at them anymore. It’s like setting cash on fire to keep warm.


I won’t score this fear. It doesn’t make any sense to, because while I am “facing” it, I exert no bravery in doing so.

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