I don’t want to go outside

My name is Leslie, I’m an introvert, and I’m NOT looking forward to the world opening back up.  Listen, there was a time (years ago) when you would not have known that I was an introvert. I could work a room, talk to every person there, and strike up conversations with complete strangers.  Over the years, however, the truer me has emerged — less performative, less concerned about what people think, less influenced by other’s expectations.

When COVID hit, I was in the number of people who were thrilled at the idea of a mandatory “shut in.” Stay home? Heck yeah! Don’t gather? Don’t plan to! Communicate through video screens? No better way! I enjoyed most of those moments, albeit some were frustrating — not because of the isolation rules however.

Now, a year and a few months later, we in the U.S. are getting back to business.  And I am lamenting it! I’ve had some symptoms of anxiety. I’ve felt the pressure mounting about people expecting me to come out of my hobbit hole and engage with them.  The people pleaser in me often over-commits and COVID gave me the perfect passive excuse to just NOT.

I want to give myself permission, the space and the grace, to not be ready.  My life changed drastically last year.  A health diagnosis, a lifestyle change, a marriage, all of which came with a unique set of complications.  I found a way to adapt at home, with my creature comforts. And now I have to go outside and do the social things.

What I do know is that I get a choice. I can choose to live life differently, with boundaries or with openness.  I can choose to say no or I can choose to say yes.  I can choose to be authentic and take all the time that I need to adapt in ways that feel safe and regulating for me.  No one else is in my body and no one else senses the world exactly how I sense it and I get to advocate for what I need for my personal wellbeing.


Published by Counseling With Leslie

Leslie Stevens, M.Ed., LCMHC is a North Carolina and Virginia board-certified licensed professional counselor. She co-owns a successful practice in Carrboro, North Carolina. Leslie specializes in helping adults navigate stress, depression, anxiety, and perfectionism. Additionally, she is a life strategist, spiritual coach, and writer.

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