By Trina O’Quinn, for the NABBW

One would think that the stay-at-home and self-isolating orders issued by our various states in response to the COVID-19 pandemic would be food for an introvert’s soul.

In some ways it is. It’s working well for my introverted personality, which tends to want to isolate to the point of invisibility. However, deep in my soul I know that it is working too well, and undoing all the therapy I have done around socialization.

Socializing takes a lot of my energy, so I need isolation and rest to recharge. My extroverted friends, on the other hand, who gain energy from others, are having trouble getting the energy they require.

I am losing opportunities to be seen and heard by others and my inner self. At the same time, my ability to overcome my isolation and avoid invisibility is also waning.

Along with many women of the Boomer generation, I was taught to be seen and not heard. Is the pandemic reinstating the idea that “women of a certain age” should be isolated from each other and become invisible once more? I am separated from my friends who are both younger and older than me.

When I was an active therapist, my clients ranged from ages 14-85. After retirement, I kept active with a multi-generation of women. The COVID pandemic has made it very difficult to stay connected to them. The theme running through every conversation in the media makes me feel expendable and no longer needed. I am being isolated from my friends and cohorts who can disprove that concept.

Is this isolation and invisibility new or a crescendo of my past experiences as an introvert?

For me, this is not new, but rather a crescendo of what I was taught as a member of the first phase of Baby Boomer Women – be silent. As an only child, isolation felt natural. I was taught not to speak when adults were talking (people in authority). So again, not being seen or heard is a crescendo of what I am used to. My fear is that once I become invisible, I will have less power to make discernible decisions over my own life.

For me, this Stay-At-Home and Self Isolation Order has been a space in time to reflect on how this pandemic has affected me personally and as a woman of a certain age born into the Baby Boomer silent, invisible generation.

As I write this article, I have decided to have hope and faith that a cure and vaccine will be found for the COVID-19 virus. To keep from becoming invisible to my friends and family I reach out to one or two of them a day by the telephone, Face Time and Zoom. In the meantime, I nurture myself by Reflection, Remembering, Resting, Recharging, Refocusing, Resolving and using my Curiosity. I have decided to use this pause as a way to Be Still and Know.

Trina O’Quinn is an actively licensed California State Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Entering the profession as an older adult, Trina was in private practice for 30 years. During her career she was a lecturer at California University Dominguez Hills in the Marital and Family Therapy Program, where she supervised many students and mentored many associates.

Now retired, Trina keeps busy enjoying needle arts, reading, journaling and writing, as well as singing with a women’s chorus, peer networking, volunteering at a senior living center and reconnecting with old friends.