I read somewhere that titles with numbers attract more readers. So here we go, let's put this claim to the test!
1. Isolation is as difficult for introverts as it is for extroverts, although they experience it differently.
When quarantines and lockdowns started rolling in, there was a running joke about a certain category of people who would not care much about new requirements. If you spend a lot of time at home anyway - reading, working, staring at the screen - you will probably be the least psychologically affected, they said. But let me tell you: there are only a few people who want to become real hermits by cutting themselves off the rest of society.
If you define an introvert as somebody who enjoys spending time on their own, then I will be the best example. But don't make a mistake: introverts don't want to avoid people. I may be the quiet one around the table during a friends' gathering, and sometimes in the middle of a conversation I start thinking longingly about going back to my projects in my room. This does not mean, though, that I don't need these gatherings, or that to make me happy you need to lock me in my room with my computer for a while. In fact, this does not make me happy at all. I have learned it the hard way...
2. "A work is never completed but merely abandoned."
Apparently, this beautiful idea was first formulated by Paul Valéry in 1933. I heard it this fall from my friend Susan Messer, a great writer whose novel Grand River and Joy I had read last year. As somebody generally inclined to be a perfectionist, I could have used this insight before. In the last few months of 2020 - when I was finishing my own book - it felt truer than ever.
Darn, it was so hard to let the book go! To accept that the clumsy conglomerates of words that I put together trying to create a coherent argument will never match the shimmering constantly rearranging complexity of thoughts in my head. Honestly, I hate it but I guess that's totally normal.
3. I want to help people move from acknowledgement of social problems to collaboration across divides through empathy.
I have been obsessed with the idea of empathy for a while. In my book I describe it as one of my biggest biases. My belief is that we should look for explanations of our opponents' actions that go beyond "They are just mean and stupid." Society is far from perfect. Still, if we want to deal with its problems, pointing fingers and blaming each other is not the solution. That's what I think, anyway.
In the last couple of months, I realized that this is what I should build my career around. This stuff is very important for me. Our jobs should be something we deeply care about, right? I don't know yet what I am going to do in 2021 or where, but my career path is going to change according to my guiding vision. Stay tuned for news about this transition. And if you have any suggestions, please let me know.
3.5. Washing hands is important.
This qualifies as only a half of an insight. At the same time, I don't think I fully realized how a person can protect herself from some fairly nasty diseases with the help of soft soapy bubbles and warm water. You live and you learn. But where is my hand lotion?..