Introverts of the world, unite! It looks as if we could all do with the support. The pandemic was supposed to play to our strengths, you see. It was supposed to be our time to quietly shine. There were no more social obligations to worry about. We could stay at home without feeling like losers. We could show extroverts the error of their exhausting ways. According to conventional wisdom – and a large number of lifestyle pieces – we were built for lockdown life.
Except, as it turns out, we’re not. An Australian study recently published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology found that introverts are experiencing “more severe loneliness, anxiety and depression” as a result of “lockdown and social distancing”. This isn’t the only research suggesting introverts might be suffering more than extroverts as a result of the pandemic. In April a survey of 1,000 American adults by a consultancy group found that more extroverted people were less likely to experience mental health issues as a result of quarantine. This, some experts postulated, was because extroverts are more optimistic and have larger social networks, so find it easier to stay happy and socially connected. They are more likely, in other words, to 1) be invited to a Zoom pub quiz, and 2) take part in it without wanting to run straight back home.
To be clear: nobody is having a blast at the moment (except, perhaps, the CEOs of America’s health-insurance companies, who have been raking in record profits). This isn’t some kind of depression-measuring competition. This is just me silently screaming into the void, having a very introverted meltdown. I was doing really well at the beginning of the pandemic. My life hadn’t changed all that much and, as a Briton in the US, I really enjoyed not having to hug people. But there is such a thing, I have realised, as having way too much time to think. And I really miss missing being at home. So check in on your introvert friends please. Just because we’re quiet, it doesn’t mean all is well.
• Arwa Mahdawi is a Guardian columnist