What Is It Like to Be an Introvert During Lockdown

Several countries in the world have been going through multiple lockdowns this year due to the pandemic, taking away people’s freedom by limiting social gatherings (among other things). When I discuss the situation with people around me, it becomes quite clear not everyone copes the same way. How come? I think we find isolation more or less difficult depending on if we are an introvert or an extrovert by nature, this key aspect of our personality is now standing out more than it ever did.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

What’s the difference between the two and how do you know if you are an introvert or an extrovert? Well, it’s quite simple. Introverts don’t mind spending time alone, they need to retreat to their cave to recharge their batteries. Extroverts are quite the opposite: they love being surrounded by people, that’s what really fills them up. It’s a pretty basic explanation but if you want to dig deeper, the most famous personality test uses the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. There are 16 personality types and you can find out which one you are by answering several questions, it’s free and it takes roughly 10 minutes. According to this test, I’m an “Advocate” (INFJ profile) and 76% introverted.

What is it like to be an introvert

I’ve always known I was an introvert, I never found it hard to be on my own and I’m pretty much always among the first ones to leave a party when I’ve had enough. I would then need to reenergize with very little interaction with the world. So when the first lockdown happened in the UK 8 months ago, I found it quite peaceful and relaxing. Especially after being abroad for several months prior to that. Of course I miss not being able to go wherever I want, whenever I want, but I wouldn’t say I miss social events so much. I even dread video calls as I find them exhausting, they drain my energy.

Boundaries are important

Before I quit my job last year to go travelling, I was working in a company full of extroverts. It’s difficult to adapt when the majority of your colleagues, as well as the management team, are outspoken and loud. They don’t always let you speak even if you have (more interesting) things to say. Then it hits your self-confidence and your self-worth, to a point you start doubting yourself on the quality of your contribution. Boundaries are very important because they protect you from being abused. People with poor boundaries confuse the feelings of others with their own feelings and it’s not healthy. So in a way, I sometimes feel like this lockdown has allowed me to take the time to centre myself a bit more, which was much needed. Is it selfish to say that?

Lockdown can be a blessing for some

Today, the British Government has announced the national lockdown in England will end next week and we will be back to a tougher tier system. London will be back in tier 2, which means we’re not allowed to mix with any other household indoors except for only 5 days during Christmas. It seems likely to last until March/April 2021 (with better weather and hopefully a new vaccine). Personally, I see the next 4 months as an opportunity to focus on some things that are easily neglected when too busy: eat healthy, sleep more, go out for a wander, phone or text family & friends who live far away.

What’s your personality type and how do you cope with the current situation?

Big Girl x

12 Things To Do To Avoid Completely Losing It

Once again, everything escalated very quickly over the weekend and a second national lockdown has been announced in England. Other countries in Europe have already made this decision so it was only a matter of time for us to follow. Is there anything more terrifying than announcing it on Halloween day? I doubt it… So if you’re freaking out and don’t see the end of this pandemic, just inhale slow, exhale slower, and have a read through my ideas below to avoid completely losing it.

At least an entire month not being able to do anything but the bare minimum – on top of depressing weather and temperatures going down every day – is not going to be easy. This time we’re facing a lockdown during cold months though, we could use it to our advantage. Think of bears, they hibernate several months during winter, a lockdown would be ‘easy peasy‘ for them!

  1. Take a hot bath and relax
    • Use a nice bath bomb or anything with a lovely smell
    • Why not using some candles for a cosy ambiance?
  2. Apply a face mask
    • It’s getting cold and your skin can get dry very quickly
    • You’ll do yourself a favour and it feels nice
  3. Focus on your hair
    • Split ends? Dull hair? It takes time to properly take care of your hair… So this is the occasion!
  4. Don’t forget about your feet
    • They’re often overlooked and they need attention too
    • Apply a nice pair of moisturising socks and leave them on for as long as needed
    • Buy yourself a comfy pair of slippers
  5. Apply moisturiser on your whole body
    • Exfoliate your body and love yourself when doing it
    • It’s an excellent way to maintain good mental health
  6. Sit down and drink your favourite beverage
    • How about a hot chocolate under a warm blanket?
    • Close your eyes and enjoy, put your phone away, no distraction
  7. Read a good book
    • Even better if it’s a book that empowers you or takes your mind off the real world
  8. Cook your favourite meal and eat it mindfully
    • Take the time to enjoy every mouthful
    • Don’t eat in front of TV (or any screen)
  9. Write about your feelings
    • It doesn’t have to be in a public blog, you can write in your own private journal, just for yourself
    • It’s very soothing to put down your emotions and acknowledge them
  10. Make a list of things you feel grateful for
    • It’s easy to feel low about tough situations but don’t forget to practise gratitude about positive things too
    • I’ve done that exercise already when I was going through a difficult time back in March this year and I regularly come back to my lists as a reminder
  11. Prioritise your sleep
    • Make sure you get enough sleep to guarantee a sane and healthy brain
    • Take the time to dream, feel cosy under your duvet, forget about your potential issues, don’t think about work (or try not to)
  12. Listen to your favourite playlist
    • Finally, if you feel like you need something to spend your energy on rather than relax, you can always dance like nobody’s watching to your favourite tunes (yes, it counts as a workout and it’s more fun)

That’s pretty much how I spent my day yesterday… Today I feel better and ready to kick start another week! We’ll get through this, we’ll fight this shitty virus together and we’ll come out of it stronger than ever before. And don’t forget, you got this! Keep in mind that one day this period of your life will be in the past and you will look back at it when it’s all over. What do you want to remember?

Big Girl x

My Story: From French Expat to British Citizen

from french expat to british citizen

This post is a bit emotional for me because it takes me back to exactly 8 years ago. I remember very well that day, 26th October 2012, when I moved from Paris to London. My boyfriend at the time was transferred to London with work while I was dreaming of going back to Australia, where I’ve always wanted to live (weather, people, kangaroos, proximity to really cool places etc). Emigrating there is very difficult though, I had already used a working holiday visa for that country so I thought of New Zealand as an alternative. But I would have been on my own and it was too far away from family and friends… So I agreed to go to London instead, thinking it would be for only a year or two. Destiny is a funny thing, I unexpectedly fell in love with the city.

I guess my transition from being a French Expat to a naturalised British citizen happened when I gradually untangled myself from the (rather big) French community in London. Let’s go through different aspects of the past 8 years I spent in the UK – so close geographically to my native country but so far away in terms of culture.

Location

I moved in Hammersmith first, a pretty and very well-connected area. It was a great place to get to know London better. I still love this area, especially near the stunning Hammersmith bridge (below). It closed a few months ago for safety reasons though, you can’t cross the river like before.

After Hammersmith, I moved in Waterloo (you can’t really do more central than this) and then Colindale (some people argue it’s not London anymore), South Ealing, Wembley, Park Royal and now Woolwich.

That’s right, I lived in 7 completely different areas of London in only 8 years… What can I say, I like discovering new places. You might think: “Ok but what’s the link with feeling less of an expat?” Well, I’ve been through moving in with a French boyfriend, to flat-sharing with British roommates (post break-up), to living on my own, to finally moving in with a British boyfriend (now fiancé).

Work

I was freshly graduated from a Master’s degree, already had a good English (I lived in Australia back in 2006) and thought I would be able to compete with locals easily. In France, they look at your degree first, but in England, they look at your experience first, which I had none of (or very little).

It took me a few months to realise I should compete with French rather than Brits to find my very first job in London! One day, I finally found a job as a Business Development Manager for France. I was using my native language as a way to stand out from the crowd.

My next job was also targeting the French market but this time in the Marketing department. It’s only my third job that made me work in English but I was surrounded by a big European team and many French colleagues.

My ultimate goal was still to find a job where no one else was French and where I didn’t have to speak French at all. That was finally the case with my fourth job. I eventually reached my goal of accumulating good enough experience to compete with locals.

Friends

When I moved in London, I had a French boyfriend and many French friends. I was also blogging in French and built a network of French expats in London. It was so easy to connect with people who were sailing the same boat.

But 8 years later, they’re all gone, they all fell out of love with London and left the UK. Some moved in another country (keen travellers like me) and some decided to go back to France (that they never planned to leave permanently in the first place). If you move in a new country after school, the best place to find new friends is via your job. So here I am, my friends are now either ex-colleagues or my fiancé’s friends. I literally have no other reasons to speak French than when I speak to my family over the phone.

Love

5 years is how long it took me to find the one (I always knew my soulmate wouldn’t be French but I can’t explain why). If you wonder how we met, it was at work, in the company we both quit when we decided to go travelling for 6 months.

I think it’s fair to say I was already not a French expat anymore by then, but my full immersion was now complete – I had no choice but to accept that I was becoming more and more British, less and less French. Although we still use our native countries when we play tennis, just for fun.

tennis rackets  france vs england

France vs England (I can’t remember who won that day)

Passport

We then needed to plan our future together, I was not planning to go back to France and I needed a guarantee I would be able to come back to the country I called home (if I was going abroad for a long time for example). So I applied for the permanent residency and then passed a few tests to get the British Citizenship. Last step was a formal ceremony with the Mayor and the Queen (I mean, her picture in a frame), singing “God Save the Queen” anthem and voila, I was officially welcomed to stay forever if I wanted to. Having the dual citizenship is kind of cool too.

8 years later…

It’s been a long road and I’m glad I did it before Brexit as I’m not sure it would be so easy nowadays… I still think fondly about all the steps I’ve been through, I’ve learnt so much along the way. I’ll always stay French in my heart because I was born and raised there, but the country I call home is England. When we got stranded abroad (covid-related), I was desperate to come back to London, not to Paris. To me, that’s when you know you’re not an “expat” anymore…

If you live in a country you weren’t born in, I’d love to hear about your own experience! Do you still feel like a foreigner?

Big Girl x