A few years ago, as part of a team building exercise, I took my first personality test. For those who are familiar with personality tests, it was the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. I was really excited for the results because I'd heard so much about this test but had never previously had the opportunity to participate. To my surprise, the results showed that I was INTJ. I was certainly surprised by the “I," which stands for introvert, because I'd always seen myself as being more extroverted. Based on the research, introverts recharge by being alone and lose steam from being in crowds, whereas conversely, extroverts gain energy from other people.
I've always considered myself a "people person," so as previously mentioned have always assumed I was an extrovert. I love talking to people and have never had difficulty presenting to audiences large or small, especially when the topic is something I'm passionate about. Then one day after a large industry event I started to recognize things in myself that more closely mirrored the results of my aforementioned personality test. For example, I do prefer to be in a more intimate setting with good friends and family rather than at a large gathering where I may not know anyone; it's in these large crowds that I feel the least comfortable and oftentimes look to make a quick exit.
With that in mind, it’s probably no surprise that I quickly adjusted to the creation of an extremely small “COVID bubble” made up of select family and friends. Over the past few months, I've gotten so comfortable with my bubble that I'd forgotten how great it is to spend quality time with other people. Thankfully, with the help of some friends and a belated 50th Birthday celebration, it was finally time to break away from my bubble and open up a little.
Obviously I'm not talking about anything outside of COVID guidelines, but I did manage to schedule a handful of catch-ups with old friends that I hadn’t seen in months and it didn’t take long to realize it was something that was way past due. I've always thought that there's something extremely refreshing about listening and talking to other like-minded people and I can honestly say that a few short hours with friends was exactly what the doctor ordered. Afterwards, I found myself to be in a generally happier place as a result of the social interaction and preemptively excited in anticipation of the next get-together.
While we're still navigating this "new normal," one thing I can say for certain is that staying connected with our friendships and social circles is a critical component of our overall well-being. Regardless of whether you're an introvert or an extrovert, I strongly encourage everyone to find ways to socialize and interact with others. The benefits of social interaction, virtual or socially distanced, cannot be underestimated, but if you're still not convinced, go ahead and run a quick Google search and you'll be quickly swamped by articles documenting how spending time with friends can have a positive influence on physical and mental health markers like stress levels, blood pressure, and overall and sense of purpose and belonging.