This pandemic made a significant impact in our lives that introverts and extroverts alike are dealing with this unexpected switch. Do introverts feel relieved that they no longer need to socialize with other people? How are the extroverts dealing with the restriction against going out and mingling with others? Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen take a moment to talk about how the pandemic affects both of these personalities. As they dig deeper, learn personal tips on how to manage burnout and physical drain.
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How The Pandemic Impacts Introverts And Extroverts Differently
I came across an article entitled How Are Introverts Doing After One Year Of COVID-19? The big question here is during the isolation, are introverts doing okay? I was interested in that because I have identified as an introvert. We do have an episode coming up with a guest named Celeste. Celeste said something that has stuck with me ever since, which is most people aren’t introverts. I was curious about her opinion on this. Whether or not, introverts and extroverts are a little bit more buzz terms than they are the realities of our personality. It’s interesting to reflect on these things. It’s become trendy to be an introvert or maybe all the introverts finally feel comfortable identifying as that. I’m not quite sure. It’s still fascinating to reflect on how the pandemic has affected different personality types.
One of the lines that caught my attention is that with everyone on the same page of burnout, it feels liberating to not have to see and be seen. I certainly have felt that way. I started to identify as an introvert when I recognize that is often defined as how you get energy. Do you get energy from being with other people or do you get more energy from being by yourself? Is being with other people draining? Other people can also be defined on how many people. A lot of introverts tend to thrive in small groups, one-on-one conversations. They don’t like small talk. Going to large gatherings and doing that frequently can feel draining. For me, I felt a bit relieved and I’m a little nervous about things opening up again. I’m hoping that it is gradual because it’s going to take me some time to feel comfortable and to be interested in socializing in many capacities.
Another element of this article that’s fascinating to me is that I feel burned out most of the time. When I feel that way, I don’t want to socialize. It’s hard for me to even respond to emails or text messages. It’s hard for me to speak on the phone. It can be challenging to do Zoom meetings. All of that feels draining. Burnout is a huge element of this, too. I’m amazed that even after a year of barely socializing, I still don’t yearn for it. There are certain people that I miss seeing and there are certain events that I miss attending.
Jason, you and I have spoken about missing events like the Natural Products Expo. I was thinking about how we might go to that event in Philadelphia. I feel excited about it because, in events like that, I can bypass my introverted fatigue and rally for the time it takes to get through that event. It’ll be interesting and different because they’ll likely be a lot fewer people so that should be easier for me. I also found myself starting to experience some dread, I suppose, or some fear around that. Not just around health concerns but thinking about how it’ll feel to socialize.
I’ve been thinking about the burnout factor of this often as well because I generally feel tired a lot. Many factors lead us to feel tired and this is such an important thing to evaluate within ourselves. It’s almost as if when we get older, there’s an assumption that you’re going to be tired a lot. Our bodies are aging, so we’re tired. I imagine that’s true. I don’t have as much energy as I used to. That might be true. Although I feel like there are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to age. I try to take those things with a grain of salt. You need to get a certain amount of sleep. It seems that each person requires different amounts of sleep based on their body, health and their circumstances.
We have the quality of sleep. What mattress are you sleeping on and are the windows open? Can you see the light coming in? Does the light help you or does it hurt you? Is the temperature right? These factors impact how well we sleep. It’s not about the number of hours, what time we went to bed and when we got out of bed? How many hours of quality sleep did you get during this time? We have factors like hydration in terms of our energy. Are you drinking caffeine? Are you exercising? Are you eating well? How’s your digestion going? When you go down the list of the things that can contribute to us having energy or feeling fatigue, that in itself can lead to burnout. It’s incredibly overwhelming to try to evaluate whether you are taking good enough care of yourself to have that energy and then we’ve got all the mental sides of it.
This whole discussion can feel exhausting. It can contribute to us getting confused about whether we’re introverted or extroverted. What if we’re burnt out and that’s why we feel introverted? What if we feel lonely and that’s why we feel extroverted? There are a lot of different things that we can explore within this article. I want to begin with you, Jason. You perked up when I sent you this article as a suggestion to discuss on this episode. For anyone who wants to read this, we’re not going to read it line by line. You will find a link to this article, which is on Refinery29.com. Tell me, Jason, when I sent you this article, what was the first thing that crossed your mind? What was it that got you excited to discuss this? You often identify as an extrovert.
I got excited because I don’t know what to identify as anymore, to be honest with you. I got excited because I’m on a spectrum somewhere in the center. I don’t know. To your point, Whitney, I’ve labeled myself and have been labeled by people since childhood as an extrovert. Even as a kid, I could go out on a stage and do theater or present or be in a group of people and be pretty bold and fearless in terms of presenting in front of an audience. Because of my high energy when I am in groups of people and when I am presenting to a crowd, I do feed on that energy. It’s a reciprocal exchange of energy. I do like that exchange of being in large groups, I feed on it, I get pumped up by it, and then I can give that energy back. It is a symbiotic exchange.
Living in a global pandemic, I feel like I am more used to staying home and being by myself, maybe even since childhood. When my dad left the family and my mom was working three, four jobs at a time, I spent a lot of time on my own. I don’t know that I’ve spent this much time at home alone since childhood. It’s made me question where I’m at on this spectrum. I got excited about this article because I wanted to dig in and see what aspects of it resonated with me and there was a lot.
I want to read a quick paragraph. It was the first paragraph that jumped out. There are a few people commenting on this article. Dr. Breland-Noble, who I suppose was at the University of Wollongong School of Psychology, which is in Australia, looked into 114 people and how they were living during the pandemic. She found that higher levels of introversion were associated with more loneliness, depression and anxiety. Introverts often turn inward when coping with stress and anxiety instead of reaching out to others for help, which I thought was interesting. The doctor says that this may have caused introverts to fall prey to what she says is maladaptive alone time, which she describes as using quarantine as an excuse not to receive quality human interaction that we need.Introverts are having a hard time socializing with other people. They’re not fond of small talks, going to gatherings, and it’s draining them. Click To Tweet
This is the paragraph that hit me, she says, “Everyone should have some balance between being fully engaged with people outside of themselves and also being fully aware and present for themselves. 2020 has tilted the scales out of balance though. We have much more time to focus primarily on our own thoughts and a serious lack of connection with others. At the same time, our stress levels have never been higher. This is not a great combination for anyone, introverts or extroverts.”
I see this show up in my life, Whitney, in the sense that there are days that go by where I don’t leave the house. I drive my car maybe twice a week. I’m still in recovery from my motorcycle accident. I go to physical therapy once a week. I go to the Farmer’s market once a week. I leave the house twice a week. Other than that, I’m here. I have adapted, in a sense, to such consistent aloneness. You talked about events and we talked about whether it’s going to be a gradual opening up or it’s going to be like mashing the accelerator. When I think about going to events, concerts, or trade shows, the things we’re talking about, I feel an emotional cocktail of excitement, curiosity and anxiety.
When I think about being at Expo East or being at the LA Auto Show or going to the Hollywood Bowl, whatever the case may be, and I think about being around tens of thousands of people, I get an interesting feeling in my gut. I don’t even know how to describe this feeling. It’s anxiety. I’m trying to think about why I feel anxious about that. In the past, Whitney, I wouldn’t have felt anxious about it. By being alone and on my own and at home 95% of the time on any given week, maybe I’m used to being alone that the thought of being around tens of thousands of people freaks me out. I don’t know why it freaks me out though, but I feel anxiety around it.
It’s an interesting question and I’m not fully sure why. Some elements of introversion are associated with loneliness, depression and anxiety because introverts are turning inward to cope. I wonder if that’s what’s coming up for you, Jason. I’m used to that. I need to push myself to talk to other people about things. I find that I do that in this show. I find that I do that sometimes on YouTube. I will get into in-depth conversations with friends sometimes and then I’m like, “That’s satisfying.” I don’t feel the need to talk to people about things all the time.
I don’t generally feel lonely. I don’t usually feel depressed. I certainly go through lulls and intense emotions. I do identify with the anxiety though. Anxiety is interesting because I reflect on it so much. That’s an epidemic. I’m curious if there are correlations and how elements of the pandemic are increasing. There’s health anxiety, this fear of getting sick, this fear of getting other people sick. This is something a lot of people have experienced, not everybody. Some people have different viewpoints on COVID and they seem pretty relaxed about it. They’re not worried about it. For me, it has been a concern.
I have a general underlying sense of anxiety because I’m somebody that tends to always want to prevent challenges. I’m constantly in this mode of making sure everything is safe. I have issues around trust and safety that are subtle. I didn’t even recognize that they were there. That’s why it’s been fascinating to observe how I’ve felt during this pandemic where I don’t think it was socializing to blame for my anxiety. The anxiety was already there and maybe it gets a bit triggered through socializing. There are many factors.
My anxiety also comes out when I feel inadequate. Socializing sometimes is like, “Do I have to look a certain way to feel like I’m fitting in or feel like I’m presenting myself well?” That anxiety of like, “How do I do my makeup and my hair? What clothes do I wear? How am I feeling in my body? Am I feeling confident about it? Am I feeling good in it?” All of that causes me anxiety because it’s a lot of work and it’s exhausting for me. When I’m at the event, I’m constantly reflecting on that. As a people pleaser too, it gets triggered where I’m constantly evaluating whether or not somebody seems happy with me. Are they enjoying talking to me? Am I saying things that interest them? Am I enjoying myself? All of these factors that come up, that’s part of how anxiety plays out in those settings.
With having limited experiences of that, I don’t know if I feel that much less anxious. It’s like, “What else is going on?” Are those things still happening in my brain? For example, through text messages, emails, phone calls and wondering, “Are my friends upset because I haven’t texted them back? Are my friends upset with me because they haven’t texted me back?” All those little things that I tend to have anxiety about. Are people upset with me? This is a common thing. A lot of Millennials express is that constant fear that people are displeased with you, especially when it comes to your work environment.
This certainly shows up for me, especially since I’m an independent contractor and I have clients. I’m constantly wondering, “Are they okay with my performance? Am I doing enough for them? Are they happy with the results that they’re getting? Are they going to continue working with me? Are they going to let me go? Are they going to sign up? Are they going to ghost me?” All of those things. We have financial anxiety, Jason, which I know you experienced a lot of. It’s like, “Do I have enough money? Will I have enough money? Should I buy this or should I not? Should I invest in this?” Those constant thoughts are draining and causing a lot of anxiety. With all that said, Jason, what is ringing true or what else is coming up for you as I discuss my experience?
You helped me get a little clearer on some of the seeds of anxiety for myself, not necessarily the anxiety of what I’ve been experiencing over in 2020 plus of the pandemic. You eloquently expressed a lot of the things that I feel, not just around stability, financial abundance, staying alive, and keeping things afloat per se. I also have experienced in working with the few projects that I’ve had that thing of like, “I better do the best job ever because I don’t know when another project is going to come around. I want this person to hire me again.” I resonate with everything you said. The thing that arose for me though is that there’s a part of me that has enjoyed the messiness, rawness and the not give a crap attitude that I’ve seen in myself and a lot of friends over the course of this pandemic. We’re going to show up to the show however we look, a three-day-old shirt. I have a stye in my eye. I look like I got punched in the face by Mike Tyson. I don’t care. I don’t give a crap. I like the authentic rawness.
My mom was like, “I’m living in yoga pants.” My mom works from home. My mom is like, “I ordered these brand-new yoga pants and I love them. I wear them all day, every day.” I thought that was adorable. Even my mom is stopping giving a crap. Many people are like, “I am what I am. I’m dressed how I’m dressed. I do not care.” That’s refreshing because it flies in the face of the professional standards, the beauty standards, always trying to impress people, look impressive and be impressive, the haircuts, makeup and the new clothes. I don’t want any new clothes. I don’t want any new shoes. I don’t care about my haircut. There’s something refreshing about letting go of that.
To your point, Whitney, part of my anxiety is when we start going to trade shows, conferences, networking events, etc. Those standards, pressure and the expectations of people are like, “We’ve been locked up for a year. We’re going to look sexy and fierce, post-pandemic fierceness.” Whatever that is, I don’t care. I don’t want to get caught up in that. My anxiety is around everyone’s going to come out with guns blazing out of the gates after the pandemic and be dolled up, professional, sharp and like, “We’re back in the world.” I don’t care about these games anymore. It’s not like I’m going to show up disheveled with crumbs in my beard, not that there’s anything wrong with that.
I hope that there’s a semblance of this rawness, authenticity and not give a crap attitude that is going to translate with people when we are in a post-pandemic world. I want to live that way. I want to let go of caring what people think and show up as I am. People are either going to dig it or they’re not. I don’t know if the anxiety is around the judgment of what other people think of me. It’s not that so much as it is. This idea that everyone’s going to go back to that superficial presenting way again and I don’t care for it, Whitney. I want to show up as I am. If it’s not appropriate for the situation, whatever. I want that rawness and that realness to translate is what I’m saying and I’m not sure that it will.
It’s interesting that you bring this up because I was looking at a few other articles that dig into this. This idea in that Refinery29 article that introverts still feel socially burnt out even though we’ve had a lot of time on our own. I’m super curious about that. One article that came up is on Shondaland.com that’s titled Secretly Dreading the End of Social Distancing? You’re Not Alone. It speaks to what you’re saying, Jason. Let me read some parts of it, “The lockdown has been a welcome reprieve from incessantly being peer pressured to socialize above their preferred quota. We don’t have to put on a facade anymore. We can be exactly who we are, quiet, honest, creative solitary and no one is around to judge us for it. For anyone whose pre-pandemic social life made them feel like they were caught in a current that how they were spending their time didn’t completely align with who they are or what they consider to be their ideal lifestyle. Now that we’re beginning to socialize in ways that suit us instead of the obligatory status quo, a sense of dread is looming.”
These are based on a number of different studies and experts on the subject matter. I haven’t finished reading the article. It’s showing us that we can live the way that we want on our terms, which is something that many of us have been yearning for. However, we’re doing it under the conditions of the pandemic. Part of the stress here is the compromise. It’s like, “We finally get to spend more time at home.” Many of us have been yearning for that. Many of us didn’t even realize how burnt out we were and how much energy we’re expelling. We were used to it and caught up in it that maybe we weren’t fully aware of.
I’ve talked about this on this show that at the beginning of 2020, I was feeling burned out and I was feeling stretched in way too many directions and stretched thin as a result. When the pandemic hit, it was like, “Great.” It almost didn’t feel like enough time, but that’s because it wasn’t fully relaxing. Remember in mid-March 2020 when this happened, it was this weird sense of, “I should relax, but I also need to keep myself financially stable,” unless you had a job that was fully covering and paying you despite the fact that you were at home and the pandemic was going on. A lot of people like ourselves who work for ourselves and are independent contractors, we’re like, “What do we do?” I remember that scramble of like, “Is the economy going down? Is anyone going to want to hire me and pay me?”
I didn’t have any steady work at that time. I didn’t get my current clients until mid to late 2020. I had no idea what I was going to do. As nice as it was to lounge around because the whole world was lounging around in a way, not necessarily. The healthcare workers were in a different position. It felt like there was this permission and yet you couldn’t fully relax if you were wondering about money. How could you fully relax when it was a scary time? Wondering, “Is it okay to leave my house? How do I get food?” We had the toilet paper shortages. The grocery stores were panic-filled.
It was a relief and yet new anxieties were coming up that we hadn’t even considered. We didn’t necessarily get much of a break. It didn’t solve that much, aside from the fact that I don’t have to socialize in person as much. To the point of many of these articles, everybody wanted to start socializing on the phone and Zoom. Early on in the pandemic, people wanted to have parties and play games. I remember doing some of those things but also being like, “I don’t want to do this, but I don’t want to let down my friends.” That has been another stress, too. The strain that the pandemic has had on all of our relationships, especially friends. You wonder, “Are we good friends? Do we have the same viewpoints? Who are we if we don’t see each other regularly?” A lot of my friendships shifted, changed, or some of them dissolved over the course of the pandemic. That’s stressful too.
The bigger stress, Jason, this is something that I’m hearing a lot on TikTok and people are laughing about this. That exact description that you had of people going out into clubs and partying sounds cool in theory, but I know I would get there and be drained within a couple of minutes. I was already like that. One of the last public events I went to was in February 2020. I distinctly remember it was a podcast festival conference. There was a party that I went to and within five minutes, I was like, “I’m ready to go.” I went with friends and I had to wait around for them. We ended up staying for a couple of hours and I was like, “Oh my gosh.” I was good with that five minutes, that’s all I needed.
It’s frustrating because it affects your socializing and then you add on the layer of getting ready for an event like that. You’re like, “I spent all this time getting ready. I can’t stay for five minutes.” Factoring in the amount of energy it takes to prepare yourself mentally and physically to go to an event, all of that sounds exhausting. Now, you can show up with half your body prepared if you’d like or not do anything at all. Zoom has filters now. I love doing Zooms because I rarely do my makeup because of the Zoom filter. It’s like, “I like the way I look with the Zoom filters.” It touches up my appearance filters on and I’m like, “Great. I don’t have to bother doing my makeup.”
Without that there, Jason, I understand what you’re saying. Peer pressure is involved. It’s like, “Come on. It’s been a year since we were able to hang out.” That’s tough, too. I don’t want to let my friends down. What if I don’t feel like socializing yet? What if I don’t feel like doing those things? Do you ostracize yourself? Do you lose friendships over that? Is it showing up as your authentic self? That’s the other big question. If my authentic self is somebody who enjoys staying at home then why am I putting on this whole facade to try to pretend I’m someone who enjoys going out? Do I want to have friends who don’t seem to accept the version of me that wants to stay at home all the time?
That’s a question for you, Jason. You go to the farmer’s market regularly, for example. I remember you asking me, like, “Why don’t you go to the farmer’s market anymore?” I don’t feel like going. Sometimes I feel bad because you go and you meet up with a couple of people there and those are people I know and like. Do you guys all think that I’m weird because I don’t go to the farmer’s market with you? Do you think, “Whitney, come with us every once in a while?” What if I don’t feel like it?When you get older, there's an assumption that you're going to be tired a lot because your body is also aging. Click To Tweet
I don’t think it’s weird. I don’t judge you for it. Overall, there are probably three things. One is the raw, authentic, come as you are attitude that I’ve seen born within me and other people I know. The second thing is a deeper level of acceptance for wherever anyone is at. When I’ve invited you and you’re like, “I don’t feel like it.” The last thing I want to do is push you or try and convince you or anyone for that matter. That’s another attitude and way of being I want to carry forward. If I extend an invitation to someone to do something and they’re like, “I’m not into it.” I’m not going to press. I’m not going to ask them why. It’s like, “Okay, great. Thanks for being honest about where you’re at with it.”
The third thing is related to the anxiety that I feel. I suppose this is an aspect of introversion. I’ve heard it phrased and lumped in is the aversion to small talk. You’ve brought this up. You and I have talked about this ad nauseam in terms of public events, parties and gatherings we’ve been to. As a result of having difficult, uncomfortable, painful, beautiful conversations with friends and family, like, “No BS. Let’s talk about fear. Let’s talk about inadequacy. Let’s talk about trauma.” The things that have been brought up in the people in my life, there’s been some deep, wonderful, compelling and healing conversations. I don’t feel like I have small talk with anyone in my life right now.
I’m imagining the fall and people are vaccinated or not vaccinated. That’s a whole another thing I want to talk about that’s related. We’re at these events and people we haven’t physically seen in a year or even more, in some cases, there are friends that we have on the East Coast or international friends. Sometimes we don’t see them in a year or years. I don’t want this, like, “Hi, how are you?” I’m in a surreal reality where I don’t even know what is happening. I’m here. I’m a little bit anxious and scared and also glad to see you. It’s a weird state of being. If I answer that honestly which I endeavor to and it freaks people out, I’m okay with that. I have no desire for the old approach, Whitney, of like, “Everything’s amazing. We survived. Did you get a vaccine?” “I got it too and I feel great.” I don’t want those conversations.
My point in all this is I want to do a good job of trying to assess the quality of how I am spending my time with people in the sense that if I feel like I’m going to have a high-quality real interaction with a human being, I will probably say yes unless I’m exhausted. I want to see that person. I’m going to have a high-quality and meaningful interaction with this person or persons. If I get the sense that we’re going to try and act like the pandemic didn’t happen and everyone’s like, “Everything’s amazing.” If it’s this vapid, hollow, unsubstantial interaction, I’m going to avoid those or if I’m in it, I’ll leave. I don’t think I have any tolerance for those interactions anymore, truthfully.
That doesn’t mean I’m going to be unkind to people or shut them down if I feel that they’re trying to engage in small talk. If someone says, “How are you?” I’m going to answer them honestly. I’m not going to be like, “Good. I’m great.” If I don’t feel that way. I want to foster deep, meaningful, quality interactions. If the person doesn’t want to play, I’m probably going to remove myself from the situation. I don’t want those interactions anymore. This 2020 has presented a lot of high-quality, sometimes painful, sometimes uncomfortable, but real interactions. That’s what I want in my life. Moving forward with whatever events we’re going to do, I want to show up real, meaningful, myself and people are going to do what they will with it.
That Shondaland article that I mentioned has some tips at the end of it about how to revamp your post-pandemic social life, which is useful. They’re nice to reflect on, especially with what you said, Jason. It resonates with me, too. It’s important to remember that because society is attempting to normalize, it doesn’t mean you have to go back to your pre-pandemic way of socializing, which is another point here. A locked-down ending gives us a lot of options about how we want to live our lives from now on. In a way, it’s a gift, Jason, that you have this opportunity to reflect on what you want because it’s a refresh.
The social anxiety that some of us face, which is often the fear of being judged or disliked, can feel like this pressure to perform in social situations. It can feel tempting to avoid them entirely. Digging into that fear of being judged or disliked is the key, too. It’s like, “What if I truly can go to an event and not care what people think of me? What if I can acknowledge it? I’m afraid of them judging or disliking me and that’s okay.” A lot of us have a negative self-image and something that’s talked about in this article is it’s building from not fitting the perceived status quo and that can turn socializing into a major chore for us. It’s like, “I don’t fit in.” I feel that way a lot. Even the term status quo resonates with me. I rarely feel like my true self fits that.
For me, the status quo is somebody who is a thin body type and who always has beautiful makeup on, beautiful hair and looks healthy. Even that word, looks healthy, is messed up. Those five words that came out of my mouth are crazy. I have such a distorted viewpoint of what I feel like I’m supposed to look like. By the way, I don’t think that’s ideal at all, but I’ve carried that around. I don’t feel that way that other people have to look that way, Jason. I feel internal pressure to look that way. That’s a big difference here in how I perceive others. I don’t care what somebody’s body size is and whether they’re wearing makeup, how their hair is, what clothes they’re wearing, whatever.
For me, other people care that about me. That’s where the anxiety comes in. It’s like, “Are people going to notice that I gained weight during the pandemic?” That’s something that a lot of people are verbalizing. There’s a term that goes around a lot on TikTok called hot girl summer. It’s like, “I’m going to have a hot girl summer.” It’s that idea of getting bikini ready, “Let me make sure that my body is slender. My muscles are defined. I’m tan.” All of these things, it’s like, “You have a narrow view of what it means to be hot.”
Also, this hot girl summer, it’s like, “Why?” Are you showing up for yourself? Are you showing up for other women? Are you showing up to impress men, whoever you’re attracted to and interested in? It’s this whole idea that I’ve had my entire life, as long as I can remember. It’s like, “I got to get summer-ready.” Especially when the vaccines are rolling out, there’s the idea that in summer, we’ll be able to socialize again and go back to some normalcy. It’s like, “I better get ready for that so I can be a hot girl. If I’m a single woman, then I can go find a sexual partner and whatever else.”
It’s this whole concept of prepping yourself for socializing is where the anxiety comes in and acknowledging how there’s so much perceived pressure and that makes me uncomfortable. I don’t feel my body looks the way that the status quo of a hot girl is. Does that mean I’m not ready for summer? Does that mean that I’m not going to be desirable in those situations whether it’s romantic, friendship or business relations? That’s exhausting to me and frustrating that people still feed into that mentality. I’d love to see that end, but that is how I define the status quo. It’s all of that pressure to look a certain way for socializing.
Conformity is dreadfully boring. In a lot of ways, as humans, we sacrifice our sense of self-worth and try to be things that we aren’t to get validation, acknowledgment and ultimately love. If we dig down psychologically to the root of all this, why is anyone doing anything like this anyway? If I achieve the status quo of what my physical appearance ought to be, the clothes that I’m wearing, the accouterment, the car, the house, the partner. There are so many of these arbitrary externalized things that we are taught to acquire to validate our worth as human beings and ultimately, why do we do it? We want to be loved. Why else would a person put all of this pressure to have a certain body and as you said, toned muscles, the right swimsuit, and come out of the quarantine looking fierce and looking like a hot girl? Why? People want love.
I say that not to excuse the destruction that the pressure to conform can cause because it has massive impacts on people’s mental health, this conformity. I’ve mentioned the sociological term, the tyranny of the majority, and it’s like if you don’t fit in, you’re not on these trends, and you’re not feeling the pressure to be a hot girl for the summer, something must be wrong with you. When genuinely not caring and removing your sense of self-worth from these arbitrary beauty standards and metrics of self-worth that society imposes on us.
That’s real freedom. It’s also hard as crap to do, to unravel these pressures and the structures of conformity telling us what we ought to be what we ought to look like. This is hard work. If one’s aim is to be free, we have to do this work. I use I don’t use the word have to a lot. It’s almost in the category of should for me but if we want to be free, Whitney, we do the hard work to identify, “Is this even what I want?” A lot of times these things that we think we want aren’t what we want.
They’re things that have been programmed and imposed on us for so many decades that we confuse it with what we think we want. In a lot of cases, I find that if I unravel it, it’s a cry for love, attention and acceptance. I go, “What if I didn’t spend all these years chasing this stuff or these things? What if I do the hard work to accept myself and love myself as I am, which is hard work?” In doing so, we liberate ourselves from this conformity, these arbitrary structures and we say, “I’m going to live my life the way I want to, even if it takes me years or decades to figure out what that is.”
It’s not to say I don’t go out. We’re all subject to this to one degree or another because living in a capitalist system, we buy cars, shoes, and clothes. We do these things but if we are clear about why we are doing the things we do, that’s the important part because so much of it is unconscious. How many of these girls posting on TikTok for hot girl summer are aware that they may be doing this as a cry for attention, love and acknowledgment? It’s like, “I’m doing all this because I want love.” How many people have that level of self-awareness? Probably not many and we’re all unaware. I’m not saying I’m an avatar. I’m not saying you’re an avatar. None of us are ascended masters. None of us are the Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed. We’re all struggling with something.
My point Whitney is, I would like to liberate myself more from these arbitrary standards and I would like to support more people in liberating themselves from these standards because they’re oppressive and they’re unhealthy. I do. Speaking of pressure, I mentioned this briefly, but I’ve been getting some interesting DMs from people on Instagram asking if I’m getting vaccinated. It’s been a conversation that’s come up on Instagram and in my physical therapist’s office. People making a lot of jokes about it on both sides.
Someone DM-ed me and they’re like, “I’m going to get my vaccines this week and I can’t wait to go to all the vegan events. I can’t wait for the concerts. Are you getting vaccinated? It’d be great to see you?” I’m like, “At this moment, I’m not planning on it.” People’s push back on that like, “How are you going to go to events? What are you going to do? How are you going to socialize?” I’m like, “I don’t know.” I’m starting to get pressure from both sides, Whitney. On one side, people are like, “Why aren’t you getting vaccinated? Don’t you want to do things again?” Other people who are anti-vax, which I’m not, I do not classify myself as an anti-vaxxer, people on that side of being, “Don’t you dare get it. It’s going to destroy your DNA.”
It’s interesting, as I observed myself, in the middle of people that I know who are acquaintances, these are not close friends, telling me what I ought to do. Respectfully, I partially know they’re doing it out of some level of concern so I stopped myself from telling them to screw off because I know they’re not doing it with malice. It’s interesting to see so many things in our world this completely divisive binary system of, “You should do this and not do that, and here’s why. I’m going try and convince you.” I’m somewhere in the middle like a lot of things. At this point, I don’t think I want to get the vaccine, but I reserve the right to change my mind like I can with everything in my life.
If people don’t like me changing my mind, they can bite one. People are like, “You said you were going do it.” I am a human being who has the to make a new decision with anything I want in my life. That is my freedom. That is my sovereignty. That is my choice. I’m not beholden to anyone. It is interesting, Whitney, we’re talking about beauty standards, socializing, but the vaccine pressure is getting like, “I want people to leave me alone about it and let me do what I want to do with my life,” which ultimately, I will. I’m curious, are you getting any of this lately from people? It’s ramped up for me. It’s fascinating.
It’s been coming up. It does come up frequently. There are a lot of assumptions and the assumptions bother me too. It’s interesting because I get triggered. I even get irritated. I’ve had at least one friend send me a picture of getting the vaccine. They’re so excited and proud. I remember thinking, “Are you pressuring me to do it? Why are you sending me this? I don’t understand.” I’ve had another friend, who was pressuring me a lot. I noticed both of them were excited. They believe in it. It’s such a positive freeing thing. I wonder, “Are all these people getting the vaccine so they can socialize?” It’s this almost desperation to socialize again.
I say desperation with not meaning to be judgmental, but truly these people want to socialize. I have another friend. I don’t know where this friend stands on the vaccine, but this person felt they were losing their mind during COVID because I couldn’t socialize. I have compassion for that. Each of us has different responses to this pandemic, introverted, extroverted, ambiverts and all different types of people have different responses based on their circumstances. I’m doing my best not to judge anybody, whether they decide to get the vaccine or not. It’s hard.Quality of sleep for each person requires different amounts of sleep based on their body, health, and circumstances. Click To Tweet
I feel more judgmental about whether people wear masks or not, but I’m also not going to get into a fight with someone unless it’s threatening my safety. The time I felt the most intense about it was when I was going to see my parents, I wanted to protect them. It was a huge relief when they got the vaccine. They were both so excited. They haven’t had any side effects. My dad seemed informed. He’s good at research. I was like, “That’s a relief.” I’d love to see my sister get the vaccine. She socializes a lot for her work and for fun. It’s like, “I’d rather her get the vaccine, and take less risks about spreading it, or getting the symptoms herself.”
There are certain people, great. I would rather see you alive, thriving and COVID-free. Whereas for me, Jason, I’m similar to you. The only time I leave the house is to do basic errands and 90% or something of those errands are groceries. I could get COVID from grocery shopping. I wear double masks now that I go grocery shopping. I have never washed or sanitized my hands as much in my life as I’ve done in 2020. I’m so aware of what I touch and who I’m around. I feel like I’ve been, not paranoid, but aware. My dad asked me about the vaccine and I said, “I’m not in a rush to get it. I want to observe it more. I want to have a choice if I can about which vaccine I get first of all because I’d like to research. What are the side effects of them? How are animals evolved? What was the ethical side of this? What are they made from? I want to know more information.”
It would even be a stretch for me to get it. First of all because it’s not fully available to everybody so I’m not going to go out of my way. It also seems a waste of time. I don’t need it and I want to have more information. That’s my perspective. I’m trying not to judge people for whether they get it or not. That’s my perception and my dad’s question. It’s more of a stress thing and I bet you that’s why my parents got it. They don’t want the stress of wondering if they’re going to get COVID. They’re not, from my perception, socializing. They’re going to the grocery store and working from home and barely exposed to anyone.
It was stressful for me with their age. I was worried about my parents a lot. If reducing that stress makes you feel better, great but for me, I feel more stress thinking about getting the vaccine than I do about not having it. That’s where my decision was. When and if that changes, then I will get it. If getting the vaccine has more pros than cons, fine. One thing I want to bring up, Jason, and circle back to was when you were talking about validation and being liberated from arbitrary standards. I was on a show and the episode will be out by the time this episode is out. It’s on a show called Bleep Bulimia.
It’s focused on midlife bulimia and people’s experiences with that. For those that don’t know it, I had disordered eating and a form of bulimia. I wanted to go on the show. It was a wonderful discussion. The host LaurieAnn brought up something that resonated with me and it gave me a warm fuzzy feeling. She was talking about Jane Fonda, who I believe, but I’m not positive about had bulimia. She is on a show called Grace and Frankie on Netflix. I’ve watched a few seasons. Her co-star, Lily Tomlin and LaurieAnn of the Bleep Bulimia podcast said that when she watched that show, was so much more interested in being a Lily Tomlin character than the Jane Fonda character.
For those that haven’t watched the show, Jason I imagine you haven’t Jane Fonda is playing this elegant put together woman. Lily Tomlin is her best friend who is a total classic hippie-like your California hippie woman however old they are. They’re the contrast between the two of them. When LaurieAnn from the Bleep Bulimia podcast said she’d rather be a Lily Tomlin type, I’m like, “Me too.” I never thought about it. I liked both characters. It wasn’t an either/or thing for me. Lily Tomlin represents that freedom, “I don’t give a crap character.” She’s artsy, not focused on her appearance. She’s kooky and she feels free to me. I’m like, “I love those types of people.” I know a lot of those types of people in our world of health and wellness, there’s a lot of people like that.
Growing up in a liberal town in Massachusetts, we had our fair share of hippie-type people, and even family members of mine are like that. I always associate that with freedom. I loved that visual reminder of letting yourself be who you are without being uptight like the Jane Fonda character on the show. She’s Grace and Lily Tomlin is Frankie if I remember correctly. Jane Fonda’s character is uptight. She always feels she has to maintain the image. That energy is exhausting to me. Whereas Lily Tomlin is free and relaxed.
She’s not free of problems or challenges. She has her struggles. She ends up in all sorts of funny scenarios. It’s not that one is better than the other. It’s more of where the preference lies. For me, I have had this belief system of needing to be that uptight put together woman in order to be loved, accepted, validated and get the things that I want in life. For a lot of women and men, this is not a gender issue truly. Most people, regardless of their gender have those ideas in their head that they need to upkeep their appearance and they need to present themselves in a specific way, whatever that specific way is for them in order to get what they want out of life.
The more I examine it, what I want is freedom so I would rather miss out on being perceived as hot. I would rather that somebody thinks that I’m sloppy, kooky, I don’t fit in and I’m not as attractive. That’s the other thing too, Jason. It’s this idea of hot girl summer. I feel like a lot of that driven by impressing other people whether that’s a friend or a romantic partner. It’s so silly at the end of the day because what does that gain you? A temporary satisfaction of pleasing someone, maybe a sexual encounter, maybe a relationship. If your whole dynamic is based on impressing somebody, and that’s not truly who you are, it’s short lived, unless you’re willing to spend your entire life like a Jane Fonda character who’s dedicated to the upkeep.
It also reminds me of a scene and it might even be the first scene of the show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime. It’s the first scene or the first few minutes of the show of the first episode. You see her with her husband. She’s in her twenties in the ‘50s or around that time era. She got up before he woke up. She went to bed after he went to sleep so she could put on makeup and take off makeup without him knowing. When he woke up, he saw her completely made up with the perfect hair, and the beautiful face, and probably no morning breath. She would go and take off the makeup after we went to sleep, so he didn’t even see her before and after. That’s okay if you want to live that way, but I don’t. I’m the Lily Tomlin or the Frankie character who doesn’t want to go through that rigmarole. Hot girl summer sounds a lot of rigmarole to me, so no thanks.
One person’s hot girl summer is another’s hot girl’s hell is the moral of this. For some reason, Whitney, I’ve never quoted a Bible verse in all the 211 episodes of This Might Get Uncomfortable. I never quote a Bible verse.
I don’t know about that. I feel like you’ve said this once before. I feel like you did.
Did I quote the Bible?
If you want to go through the archives of every show, Jason, have at it. Maybe one of our readers will do it for you.
If you are one of our longtime readers, remember me quoting a Bible verse, send us an email or a DM. For some reason, this quote came to my mind and there are different translations. Essentially it is, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world yet forfeit his soul.” This came to my mind, Whitney because there’s a lot of people sacrificing a lot to gain money, acceptance, fame, recognition and attention. There’s a price that we pay for that. If we go against who we are or we haven’t even discovered who we are, there’s a lot of layers to our persona and our psyche. There’s an energetic and a spiritual price to be paid when we go against our values and our sense of who we are to gain these externalized material things in the world.
Some people might not even be aware. There’s a lot of things I used to do in my teens, 20s and 30s that I look back on. I’m like, “You were ignorant.” I have so much compassion for myself in that regard of looking back at choices I’ve made. This is how I want to leave it. As angry and frustrated as I get with other people, if I sink into my heart, I do believe that people are doing the best that they can do with the level of awareness they’ve cultivated in that moment, I do. That’s hard because some people are like, “What about killing and murder?” Nonetheless, in my heart, I believe that people are doing the best that they can with the level of awareness, love and consciousness they’ve cultivated. I do. For the ladies and guys going for hot girl summer or hot guy summer, that’s the level of consciousness they’re at. We’re at our level, other people are at their level. It’s not right or wrong or good or bad.
Whitney, this has been a huge part of my healing around forgiving other people and forgiving myself. You did the best you could with where you were at. I do believe that in my heart. With that, dear reader or wherever you’re consuming this show, thanks for digging into this diverse and myriad episode about introversion, standards, pressure, socializing and so many different topics we covered. If you have thoughts on this, if you’re feeling anxiety and excitement about a post-pandemic world, if you’re freaked out, if you have dreams about it, we’d love to hear from you.
You can shoot us a direct email. It’s [email protected] that comes to Whitney and myself. We respond to all of our personal emails and we always love hearing your perspective of what you’re going through and what you’re experiencing. Never hesitate to reach out and let us know what is shaking in your world. We’re on all of the social media handles, including our YouTube channel, which we’re posting to every single week. We have video versions of this show so if you’re reading and want to see my facial expressions, Whitney’s amazing headphones, my dirty t-shirt, the cats in the background, whatever you want, tune into our YouTube channel. With that we thank you as always for your support and love on this show. We’re going to be back with another episode of the show soon. Stay tuned!
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- Bleep Bulimia Episode 12 – Whitney Lauritsen Wellbeing Coach On Disordered Eating And Mindset
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