Don't be mistaken, quarantine is a nightmare for introverts

I scrolled up to reload my Instagram feed, only to be disappointed by the same post I had already liked and an array of grey, unlit profiles on top. I've officially ticked off one of my ridiculous quarantine goals, which was to swipe past every Instagram story of almost 300 people that I followed. It was oddly satisfying to have nothing left to browse on Instagram, for now, I could tuck away my phone knowing the lives of all the people I knew were as uninteresting as mine was. I switched off my phone and stared blatantly into space. Once upon a time, I would have covered up my feelings with an unwavering gentle smile. Nowadays, I let myself bathe in the complex emotions of the world. My eyes watered after seeing videos of old couples trying to sense each other's warmth through layers of plastic and frowns appear on my forehead when looking at the number of Covid cases rising by the minute. Laughter also came more easily as I realized the foolish beam spreading across my face everytime the leaves rustled to the wind. It was idiotic to bury down these overwhelming but pure emotions. Undoubtedly, I felt more at peace at home. No small talk, forced laughs or lame excuses to escape from social gatherings anymore. My introvertedness loved the pandemic a bit too much for me to admit. Yet, I despised it. The absence of chaos outside was so loud that the storm inside my head raged stronger. I could hear every penny of my thoughts, smell the saltiness of my tears and taste the darkness of my nightmares. It was the quietness of no new text messages, no deadlines to be met, rare greetings and farewells during online classes that threatened my happiness during times I'd thought would be healing. Yesterday, I dreamt of her again. She was holding my hand and wondering if I knew how much she loved me. Like every other dream I've had in the past week, she appeared so gracefully and erased all my worries. Even when dreaming, I knew it was just an illusion created from my longing to see her, but I firmly held onto the vivid imaginary moments of affection. If only we were as close as before, she wouldn't be lurking at the back of my mind. The random conversations we used to have about whether ketchup was better than mayonnaise or what the best Harry Potter house duo was seemed so distant. Everyday, I'd revisit our text messages and reminisce about the light-hearted talks, only to be reminded by the most recent text I'd sent, which she'd left hanging. That was six days ago. Like any other introvert, I prefer deep conversations to awkward chats. Until I found the perfect conversation opening, I held back from texting her. Scared I was, that if the text chain ended abruptly, I'd be even more skeptical of our bond. Would we ever again have those conversations where you simply can't text fast enough or where we keep talking over each other? Whilst waiting on the one person that could make me feel better, I lost touch with everyone else. People stopped asking me how I was doing after my absentminded responses, and for the first time, I felt alone and lonely at the same time. For someone who had occasionally avoided messages for days with no remorse, I didn't fathom how empty it felt to be out of touch with the world. The 'tranquility' of quarantine made my mind run wild with doubts. With no one to talk to, I overthought every detail of my life and visualized the worst possible scenarios from what could only be a perfectly normal situation. If silence had always kept me anchored amongst the fast-paced beat of the city, this kind of stillness rocked me like a ship on the perilous sea. I started to miss the bus tickets that led us to the city outskirts, where birds chirped and flamboyant trees grew as quickly as wildflowers and as passionately as the heat of summer. I convinced myself that I was just trying to escape from the tragic news headlines and my phone, yet, deep inside, I knew I was nostalgic for that one time she coaxed me into hopping on a random bus to see where it would lead us. Our spontaneity had guided us to 'our spot', which we immediately claimed the moment we laid eyes upon it. Maybe, I desired to be my old self again, the one that was so proud of her introversion and wasn't afraid to express her love to those that meant the world to her. The one that wasn't frightened of silence. To the eye of many, introverted people lived through quarantine as if it were their honeymoon, but social distancing tore us away from what kept us sane: stability. To feel uncomfortable in our own skin left our souls homeless. Nonetheless, it got better. The corners of my mouth twitched in amusement as I saw the notification for a new message. It said, "I miss you loads, wish Covid never happened", with a sad emoji on the side. It was the perfect text, for I also yearned to tell her the same.

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