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As we near the end of 2020 — aka “the dumpster fire that seemingly never ends”– and COVID-19 continues ruining our holidays with forced shutdowns all over the world, I started to wonder, is there anyone that’s actually benefiting from the cancellation of holidays plans?
Could some people actually not just be doing well during this holiday period, but actually thriving?
As ludicrous as it seems, believe it or not, one of the (very few) bright spots of the holidays being cancelled by COVID-19, is that 20% of people are somehow feeling better than they did in previous years during the holiday season.
Say what? Who are these jerks?
Are their first names Ebenezer? Or are they just masochists?
I have to admit I did a double take when I read this headline from CBC:
And as a I read on about this minority group experiencing “lockdown relief,” I realized that for extreme introverts, people with social anxiety, autistic people, or people with difficult familial relationships, not having to pretend to be something they are not for hours on end is sweet relief.
In fact, one of the people interviewed in the article said they “jumped up and down like a little kid” when she found out holiday gatherings were being banned. She gets panic attacks as early as mid-Nov, just thinking about all the lights, screaming kids, and commotion, and has to sleep for 3 days straight after a single 3-hour event to recover.
Another interviewee, who self identifies as non-binary finds it triggering to have to navigate misgendering with family. They’re relieved they can just be themselves this year without the awkwardness.
Some have praised this holiday season of banned gatherings as “a year with no obligations and no pressure and no guilt…every Christmas should be like that.”
As someone who’s a bit on the introverted side, I can see where they are coming from.
Loud noises, small talk, frequent spontaneous get togethers, a packed calendar—these are all the things introvert nightmares are made of. And the holidays are where these nightmares come true.
While this may be the only year that introverts get a break from all the craziness, it doesn’t always have to be this way.
Here are some tips that can help you have an anxiety-free Christmas every year, with or without a pandemic.
Poke Holes In Your Calendar
Is an overflowing calendar of holiday gatherings more horrifying to you than accidentally discovering an over-sized bottle of sex lube in your parents’ nightstand? If so, do yourself a favour and leave spaces where entire days are reserved for doing…absolutely nothing. It might be hard to explain to an extrovert but doing nothing is absolutely essential for an introvert. Besides, what looks like nothing to others is some much needed heavy-duty recharging for you.
Charge up ahead of time
Like Storm from X-men, your superpower comes from re-charging. If you anticipate not having any downtime during the holidays, take a few days ahead of time to be alone, read, watch Netflix, journal, and basically be as boring as you can be from an extrovert’s perspective. This is your charge up period, and you can tap into these reserves the next time Cousin Fran or Uncle Bob wants to regale you with all the functional intricacies of their air fryer.
Skip the Guilt Trip
Holidays are notorious for making introverts feel guilty about skipping big gatherings. Since society rewards extroverts, it’s easy for extroverts to make introverts feel they need to be “fixed” for being “anti-social” or killing all the fun by skipping events. They don’t realize that being introverted doesn’t mean being anti-social. Introverts simply get overstimulated and prefer quality time over quantity.
So, don’t apologize for needing to be yourself and skipping a few social events to feel sane. Just as extroverts need to constantly be around people, your need to do the exact opposite is just as valid.
Be honest and authentic in telling loved ones that you need time to “recharge” so they don’t get confused or offended by your need to escape.
Be Extra Helpful
Have you noticed chores become a lot more fun when you’re an introvert at a big social gathering? Loading/unloading the dishwasher, setting the table, making the salad or dessert is a welcome distraction from having to listen to inane chatter or make eye contact with that random guy who keeps laughing and elbowing you in the side every time he makes a bad pun or the lady who can’t stop yapping about her dog’s bowel movements.
Wait, what was that? I just heard someone ask for help in the kitchen! I’ll be RIGHT back….
Have an Escape Plan
Every plan needs an escape hatch, and if you find yourself being drained, don’t try to tough it out for fear of guilt or disappointing other people. You’ll just end up cranky and resentful later. Make an excuse and bail. Or better yet, set the expectation ahead of time that you need to leave by a certain time because of your kids, your dog, an appointment, etc. Hell, bring some laxatives and say you’ve got massive diarrhea if you have to. Make your escape and don’t look back.
What do you think of the holidays? Are you bummed that COVID-19 cancelled your plans? Or are you secretively relieved? If you’re an introvert, what your tips for escaping the madness of the holidays? Let’s hear it in the comments below.
Happy holidays, Happy New Year, and here’s to 2021 being better than 2020! After all, it can’t get worse, can it?
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