2020 has been an interesting year for everyone. We’ve all been affected in different ways, and it’s crucial to connect with one another by sharing our experiences. So today I’d like to share some of my thoughts as an introverted highly sensitive person (HSP) in lockdown.
Any time I talk about this subject, I feel the need to include a disclaimer of sorts. I’m generally uncomfortable with posting about this pandemic, but it obviously can’t be ignored. It’s a truly awful situation, and we’re all in such different circumstances. I don’t want to profit off this or use it as ‘clickbait’. I just want to share my experiences because we’re all going through these times differently. It might also be nice to have these memories later, so I’ll be able to look back and see what life was like in 2020. Plus, Ponderings is my series of personal posts, so sharing stuff like this is kind of the point.
A bit about me
I’m an introvert and a highly sensitive person (HSP). This means that I very much enjoy my alone time and am easily overwhelmed by strong emotions or sensory information. HSPs have good qualities too, of course, but I’ve been feeling more of the negative ones lately. As far as work goes, I have an office job with some lab work. I’m grateful to be able to work at home sometimes but I still have to go into the office regularly. So that’s where I’m coming from. It may be similar to your situation or the complete opposite.
If you are struggling right now, just know that you’re not alone. I hope that things get better for you, and everyone else, soon. We can all get through these hard times together, and I believe that we’ll be stronger if we pay attention to the lessons that we’re learning.
So with that all being said, here are some thoughts that I’ve been having about lockdown/quarantine as an introverted HSP. I’ve tried to organize them as well as I can, starting with what work has been like, as well as some general observations. Have I mentioned that I started this blog during this pandemic? That’s been weird too.
Thoughts about working during the lockdown
No matter what kind of job you have, I’m sure you’ve experienced some kind of adjustments at work this year. My company has urged everyone to work from home as much as possible. My boyfriend can work completely at home, but I’m not as lucky. There are some tasks that I can do remotely, but I work in a lab, and there are just some things that I have to physically be there to do. As a result, I go into the office for at least half the day, for most days of the week.
I’ve gotten over my fear of phone calls, to some extent. Group video calls are a weird place for small talk, so that’s not really the same as it was in the office. But with daily meetings, I quickly learned to suck it up and be okay with talking on the phone, which is one good thing to come out of all this.
I’m grateful that no one on my team really turns on their camera for meetings, so I don’t feel pressured to do so either. I know it’s recommended for making things feel more personal, but I’m glad I don’t have to deal with the self-consciousness of being seen on camera. I think it’s also a bit of a privilege to have a workspace that is camera-ready. Most of my coworkers have their own home offices, but my desk is in my bedroom. I value the privacy of not having my bedroom on display for the people that I work with!
Having long IM conversations is exhausting. I also don’t love talking to people in person, lol, but we have to communicate somehow. I’ve learned that when I have a question, I would actually rather have a 5-minute conversation with someone in person (or even over the phone) to get things settled. Lengthy email chains or drawn-out IM conversations are not the way to go.
Working from home
I really enjoy being at home with my boyfriend. Even though we’re both working all day, we’re able to spend more time together. I’ve been so happy to have no work-related social events that I usually get really anxious about. (But I’m also kind of dreading when all those things start happening again). My team was planning on going out for a group lunch back in April, and who knows when that’ll actually happen!
Of course, there have been plenty of virtual social events offered by my company, but I feel less obligated to participate in those for some reason. I don’t feel as guilty skipping out on a social call or virtual activity to get some more work done.
There are exhausting days and less exhausting days at work. I’ve noticed a pattern where the worst days are ones where I’ve had to talk to a lot of people or where I’m waiting for some information from someone. I’ve learned that I get super antsy when I’m dependent on a response from someone to get work done, but I’m still the one responsible for the deadline. Days where it’s just me doing my own work tend to be a lot easier, and I have more energy at the end of the day. (This is basically the definition of an introvert, so are we really that surprised about this?)
Some unsolicited advice
If you’re struggling with work or being productive, know that most people can probably relate. I’ve definitely had days where I’ve been unable to focus because I’m so anxious, or angry, or sad. And it doesn’t help to beat yourself up or feel guilty for experiencing those emotions.
I think the best thing I could suggest would be to talk to your manager, especially if there are some concrete or specific things that could be changed to help you do your best work. Maybe your team can define core hours where you’re expected to be online to help create some boundaries. If you’re missing that normal conversation with your favorite coworker, set up a short meeting just to chat and catch up. There are millions of articles about how to work from home by now, so I won’t try to cover every tip or situation.
It’s easy to just feel overwhelmed or stressed by work, and that’s always going to happen. But I’ve found if I’m able to pinpoint what exactly the problem is, it’s easier for me to work out a solution that might make me feel a little better. Even just identifying the sucky part of the day makes it easier to recognize it and then move on. Something like “Okay, I know that talking to a lot of people in one day is draining for me. I’ll make up for that by having some extra alone time tonight.” has really been helping me.
Thoughts about existing as an introverted HSP during the lockdown
I think that our personalities have some influence on how we’ve been handling the quarantining, lockdowns, and this year as a whole. We’re all probably struggling with certain aspects while being okay with others. If you’re also introverted or highly sensitive, let me know if you can relate to any of these things!
Life at home
On the HSP side of things, the ability to design my work environment at home (to some extent) for my preferred level of stimulation has been great. I’m able to turn on background music, light a candle, cover myself in a blanket, and all kinds of cozy things that would be frowned upon in an office.
It’s also nice to not have to overhear conversations that are potentially upsetting or just distracting. Especially once the pandemic had started but before we started working from home, coworkers would share stories that they are obviously fine with sharing but I just didn’t want to hear about. I try to really limit the news I consume about the pandemic for my own mental health, so having to listen to people talk about that constantly while also trying to get work done wasn’t great.
I’ve learned that I can’t handle Twitter anymore, and I’m better off without it. Obviously, there are some good accounts, but my feed was a constant stream of negativity and chatter that I just didn’t need to look at. I was checking it too much and getting more anxious the more I would scroll. It wasn’t worth it for me anymore, so I had to break the habit. Instead of Twitter, I’ve been spending my time on Instagram and Pinterest which are much more positive for me personally. But everyone is different, so make sure that you’re consuming the content that’s right for you.
I’m really grateful that I graduated last year, and I have a lot of respect for anyone dealing with any kind of remote teaching or learning right now. With major adjustments to expectations and learning styles, I can imagine that learning is even more difficult with any number of other stressful things going on. If you’re in this situation right now, I wish you the best of luck with it!
I try to appreciate my current lifestyle while it lasts, but it’s hard not to feel guilt and other negative emotions about the events that caused this introvert-friendly way of life. It’s a weird balance to strike between enjoying all of my time at home without social obligations, and grieving and being upset about the horrible tragedies that have been happening for months now.
At home, I’m pretty much able to talk to (and bother) my boyfriend whenever I want. We distract each other all the time, and it’s great! I know that so many people have to quarantine and live alone and end up feeling really lonely as a result. My heart goes out to you if you’re in that situation, and I hope you’ve found a way to connect with someone at a safe distance.
All the feels
Emotions are cyclical, and the lockdown has made that more apparent. March through June was generally a bad time for me. But since then, I’ve had waves where I felt okay, and then waves where everything seems so horrible and scary. I’ve been learning to just ride it out and really double down on taking care of myself. (Speaking of that, I shared ideas for a whole self-care day if you’re interested in that.)
I’ve come to terms with having to scrap a whole day’s plans because I’m just not feeling it. That never used to be something I would do, and I would force myself to carry on no matter how bad I felt. Some things obviously still need to get done, but I know that taking a break can be the healthy thing to do.
Whether you’re introverted, highly sensitive, or neither, it’s helpful to recognize that our emotions can be greatly affected by our situations. No one was expecting 2020 to be a period of such prolonged stress, uncertainty, grief, and any other thing you’ve been feeling. It’s okay to feel and express these emotions, and I guarantee that everyone else has felt the same way at some point.
Thoughts about starting a blog during the lockdown
What a time to start a new blog/business/thing, right?! I knew that I wanted to go for it and finally start my blog this year, but I had no idea that it would be under these circumstances. Everyone has their own story about the beginning of their blog, but it’s somewhat unique to say that you started it during a global pandemic. I’m the furthest thing from a blogging expert right now, but I have some insights as to what it’s been like for me.
It’s been a super weird time to start putting myself out there. I started prepping at the beginning of the year, but Plants and Pondering officially launched in mid-June. It’s hard to know what to say, but even more so now. I struggled with how to talk about certain things without being insensitive or overly negative.
There was definitely a period when I had to process some things myself before I was able to talk about anything else. I wanted to make my own content but not seem ignorant of the other, more important things going on in the world. There are also a lot of topics that I’m just not qualified to speak about, and there are plenty of experts that we should be listening to about those things. This feeling was especially prevalent when the pandemic was really new, but it’s been easier for me to talk about other things as more time passes.
I started this blog to help others and, in a way, to help myself. This is meant to be a happy space for talking about plants and books and self-care and personal growth. I never want someone to finish reading something that I’ve written and feel worse than when they started.
I’m no salesperson (yet)
Many resources for starting a blog focus on how to monetize it as soon as possible. And it makes sense, you’re putting a lot of hard work into something and it’s understandable to want compensation for that work. But for the time being, the pandemic has made me wary of trying too hard to push affiliate sales or my own product that I may someday create.
It’s partly a self-confidence thing. But it also feels wrong to try and sell something when I am not personally in a financial place of need while so many other people are in increasingly bad situations. I want to be respectful of the economic position that a lot of us have been forced into. In a practical sense, I’ve been focusing less on trying to generate affiliate sales or other revenue, and more on improving my content, building an audience and getting consistent traffic.
I do intend to and aspire to make money with Plants and Pondering, but I’m very grateful to be able to have started my blog without a financial need. Because I’ve been blogging for almost six months at this point and – surprise! I’ve made exactly 0 dollars and spent a lot more than that!
This is definitely discouraging at times, but I don’t want to hide that fact from people who may be wanting to do the same thing. I know there are plenty of people who can profit from their blogs very quickly, but I have not been one of those people. I would be a lot more stressed out if I had been counting on my blog as a source of income, and I’m grateful to not be in that position.
So there are my honest thoughts about what life has been like as an introverted HSP in lockdown! There have been some huge ups and downs, but I think we’re all trying to just get through it as best we can.
Let me know how you’re doing by leaving a comment. I’d love to hear from you and see what you’ve learned during these tough times. What’s your new favorite self-care activity or coping mechanism?
Related posts you might like:
I’m back at the office, and I’m exhausted – my experience with work from a few months ago.
How I ended up here – the story of how I started my blog.
The importance of taking a break – because everyone deserves to relax.