As the world’s population continue life with the imposed restrictions and social limitations in order to combat the constantly mentioned virus, one constant headline seems to be brought up constantly when talking about it in the media. That headline is mental health.  

There has never been more talk and emphasis on the importance of talking to others, socialisation, emotional closeness, support and all-round difficulties of being depraved of the contact with people outside of those closest to us. 

The reason for this is the very nature of mankind is that we are extremely social beings and we work best and are happiest when we work together. That is why it is not surprising that a large number of people are feeling lost, not fulfilled, frustrated and perhaps angry.  These circumstances are affecting people of all genders, ages, economic backgrounds, geographical locations, professions and cultures. But perhaps not all personality types. 

As the world changed so has the appropriate social etiquette. During this period, as a trained Social Worker, I have been working with Tiglin, an Irish based charity working with people in addiction, homelessness and young adults in after care. In my work with those young adults I have seen daily changes and the gradual shift in their personalities and the mood. One of my concerns and the main focus was to create a sense of community and belonging in the facility I work in which has been very successful.  

The fascinating thing I noticed was a particular type of people that thrived in this new social landscape, the introverts of the world. From a personal perspective being an individual where big crowds, sitting too close to other passengers on public transport, not having to be in the college physically to attend the classes was not encouraged was something I found comfortable. What followed what that I started noticing that in other people alike. So I decided to personally investigate what proportion of the population this affects. 

As I work in a residential centre with young adults from every walk of life, personality and various cultures I had a conversation with each of them on this topic. About half of the residents stated that they will be happy when the restrictions are lifted and that they miss contact with people, but due to the circumstances they are talking to their family via technology more often than ever before. About 20 percent reported that they are struggling and do not like the limitations the pandemic has caused. The remaining 30 percent reported that they actually enjoyed and have gained new knowledge and appreciation from the last two years. It seems that the lockdown has helped them to deal better with their social anxiety and to realise that they are different and that it is okay. We keep hearing that “it is ok not to be ok”. 

The conclusion I have come to is that people are drastically different and while the majority of the people are coping with the restrictions, a silent minority of the people got to experience something that will most probably be remembered as a celebration of kindness and humanity but something they would like to experience again. 

Fathers, mothers, countries, poetry, food and nature all have their official day.  I believe that we need to celebrate Introverts. Perhaps have a day of introverts where the “world becomes quiet for a day”.  

TIGLIN COLUMN, August 20th, 2021