It’s so funny; since we moved abroad for the second time, I’ve noticed that I need more time for myself than ever before––although I am already on my own all day. I am not as outgoing anymore and prefer meeting in small groups and chatting with close friends instead of large social events with many discussions going on at the same time. I first really noticed this when we were in Germany (between moving from Singapore to the States) and interacting with our old friends and family, aka in familiar surroundings. My need to constantly share and chat for hours was much less existent and I needed much more time to reflect and process after meet-ups. So, I wondered: What happened?

At first, I thought I was traumatized from Singapore and just needed a little longer to process things all. Also, the pandemic certainly had an impact on us, with restricted group sizes, enforced curfews, and canceled events. In their everlasting effect, it certainly didn’t make people suddenly want to get together with a bang. They much rather seem to fear large crowds and have developed something that scientists and media call ‘social angst’. After all, it’s proven that isolation erodes social skills, and especially when your health is at stake, it’s obviously a balancing act to slowly find your way back into society.

Yet, while living in Singapore, I couldn’t wait to be entertained and be out and about. There were times when I would make sure I had an event planned in my calendar every day, and I couldn’t wait for Daniel to come home from work and interact with me, and if it was only a run in the local park or a walk to the nearby grocery store. I felt so lonely and socially excluded that one event a day felt mandatory to rewind energy levels at least a bit. And if we ever spent a Saturday at home for some reason (thinking of you, three months Circuit Breaker!), I would feel depressed and drained. All pretty typical traits for someone extroverted, if you ask me.

The sudden urge to spend so much time with me has only developed recently. All of a sudden, I’m recharging my batteries in solitude and feel surprisingly drained after social interactions (and the language barrier that demands higher attention that could lead to energy loss can’t be the reason because that wasn’t different in Singapore). All this makes me feel like I all of a sudden became an introvert. Although the situation is pretty much the same as in Singapore, my behavior is quite the opposite. I still enjoy going out and exploring our new area, but I need more downtime and don’t mind staying in for days either. Which is very untypical for me and I really wonder why.

Since I was referred to as an extrovert all my life, I really wonder whether this change in personality traits is because I ‚subconsciously’ deal with so much extroversion. Processing all these things happening to me, including moving across the globe and settling into two (or three) very distinct cultures in such a relatively short time frame, might be taking up so much space that there is less capacity for daily social interactions. It does–ironically–require an extreme amount of social exchange, organization, energy, openness, and adaptability, which are skills that are more likely to be attributed to an extrovert. In any way, at the end of the day, there is only so much you can take in. And I obviously have a lot to process.

Whatever resulted in this change, please bear with me if I don’t reply to your texts as quickly or don’t reach out or post as often and regularly as I used to. I apparently need more time now, too.

1 Comment

  • Bethany

    I am in a similar position with both moving and finding myself much, much less extroverted. It’s a really bizarre experience and, to your point, makes it much harder to settle in somewhere. In very different locations (New York, Hawaii) I’ve found myself with the same challenges. Have you noticed any changes over time? I’ve been wondering if maybe I just need to push myself a bit more.


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