By Taylor Villanueva
If I had kept a fashion journal during mandated work from home, it would’ve read, “PJs Monday through Friday; sweats on weekends or special occasions on Zoom.” My job in financial operations for high-net-worth clients involves constant meetings and emails. While others found the lockdown intolerable, it turns out I thrived working alone in my living room. I could finally think while listening to Alice Coltrane rather than ringing phones and raised voices.
While I did miss seeing people, the ability to pick and choose those interactions was freeing. I gladly bought more books than I could read and a couple of decorative pieces to bring serenity into my living room. You see, I’m an introvert in a world where extroverts are exalted as dynamic and driven. Maybe I was finally getting a break from the endless social calendar of networking. I could stop making excuses for the real me.
If we’ve learned anything over this past year, it’s that humanity is a spectrum of unique individuals who require different forms of support to thrive. This isn’t new information; we’ve just been conditioned to ignore this concept by labeling people who differ as not “team players.”
There are many personal reasons to recuse oneself or ask for accommodations. Still, the onus invariably falls on the person to offer up their (usually) personal reasons for straying from the set path. What some considered normal, I found draining and, quite often, invasive. I find myself making excuses at the end of email requests or group text messages with friends instead of advocating for myself. It’s just another way as an introvert that I’ve pushed my wellbeing to the side to appear flexible.
To bring this issue back to the fundamental tenets of humanity, the arbitrary rules that we judge people by socially speak to a lack of compassion for ourselves and how we don’t permit ourselves to break norms. We often lose what’s sacred to us for the benefit of others.
Here are a few of my thoughts:
- Louder noise does not equal smarter truth.
- Just once, I’d like to see an article titled, “Extroverted? Here’s How to Be More Reserved and Thoughtful.”
- My sign-off at the end of an email request “no worries if not” is essentially giving the other person agency over me where I defer to their ideas of what my life should look like.
- You cannot look to others to define yourself, yet this is what the world expects us to do.
Okay, I am near the end of a verbal stream of consciousness where I pause to ask the reader, “D’ya know what I mean?” I’ve had many discussions in Zoom therapy about what I want my life to be like when we return to “normal.”
It’s a permission I was not granting myself before: to remind myself of these simple things. “No, thank you” is a complete sentence and requires no further explanation. And I will strive to treat myself with compassion, even when it seems selfish to do so.