Staying Connected

Woman sitting on a beach reading

I’ve written and spoken quite a bit about the importance of the people who supported me through my depression. I am so much healthier now in no small part because they let me lean on them while I had trouble standing up on my own (or even getting out of bed in the morning). While my most recent post mostly had to do with giving each other not only physical, but mental space as we’re all “social distancing”,  I also touched on the importance of staying connected.

Working from home, so far, hasn’t been a problem for me, and it might be partly because of a realization that I had about a year ago. As I was coming out of my depression last year, I gave my first keynote. I mentioned to a few friends about how after the talk, after several people came up to me to ask me questions or just speak with me, I felt like I needed to seriously decompress. The responses from my friends were almost universal. It was because I’m an introvert. 

I was really quite taken aback. To them, it wasn’t a new thing, but for me it was a very big realization.  I get up and give talks, I like to connect with others, I can be quite boisterous at times, I was certain that I was an extrovert. The reality is, however, that I like time to process things, I do really enjoy time alone, and while I love sharing what I’ve learned with others, getting up to talk to people often leaves me drained. Trying to live life as an extrovert when I’m an introvert, ambivert, or omnivert explains some of the unnecessary stress in my life.

I’ve lived in Southern California, Toronto, and Saskatoon. I’ve attended four post-secondary institutions, and I have a vast network made up of people who do similar work as I at universities and colleges around the world. As a result, many of my closest friends live in other provinces and countries so I rarely see them.  Normally we text a couple of times a month and squeeze in a phone or Skype call every once in awhile. While I like my alone time, I’ve often felt disconnected from people who mean a lot to me.

At work, I moved into my own office in September. For the eight years prior to that I shared an office with mostly the same two people. The solo space has done wonders for my ability to focus and made it simpler to have a conference call with somebody outside of our university, but I was also feeling like I was less connected. Not only was I not in the office with my colleagues / friends, I had started taking solo walks at lunch, when I had previously usually gone with someone else. My introvert was starting to show.

Now my solo office is in the basement of my home, but something interesting is happening. For work we’re having daily team video conferences to check in and see what we need to do on that day to best support instructors at the university. We’re also all on Slack. Prior to all of us having to work from home, several people had resisted using Slack, but now we’re all there.

I have lunch with my family every day. 

I’m texting my friends a lot more and as we settle into this new reality, I’m hoping to set up regular calls or video chats with them. 

The introvert in me is enjoying the space, but at the same time I’m finding myself feeling more connected than I did when I was going into the office every day.

I am so very grateful that I have my wife and daughter here with me and we’re healthy. I’m grateful that I work with amazing people and our work is more important now than it may have ever been before. I’m grateful for all of the people in my life who I can connect with. And I’m feeling so much more grateful for all of these things right now because I know there are so many people out there who have none of it.

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