Róisín Ingle: Our personalities emerged in lockdown. Which one of these were you?
We learned a lot about ourselves in the pandemic, and perhaps behaved a little oddly
Have you ever done the Enneagram? I was obsessed with the personality test as a younger woman trying desperately to find myself underneath all the black liquid eyeliner and Rimmel pale biscuit foundation.
Now as an older woman, still trying to find myself only with slightly less desperation because at this stage, I mostly understand and like myself, flaws and all, I don’t need to go back to my dog-eared Enneagram books. I know liking oneself is very un-Irish and against the laws of the State but in fairness it’s taken nearly five decades and my mother is English. Blame her.
The real reason I no longer need the Enneagram or that Myers-Briggs test is because we have just been through and are still going through the biggest personality test of all time: The Pandemic.
I’ve been thinking for the last three months how you can tell an awful lot about people from the way they have navigated this pandemic. Look at your friends. Your family members. Your colleagues. Their behaviour in the time of corona – good, bad and WHAT did he just do? – holds the key to their true personalities.
Did your friend freak out and cocoon himself even though he is only in his 40s and not suffering from any underlying conditions? Did you apply a lackadaisical approach to hand washing and face masks? Did your usually kind cousin indulge in a spot of light judginess on the extended family WhatsApp group? Did you indulge in coronaspiracy theories?
We see you. All of you. And we still love you, yes even you Judgy Judy.
There’s a lot happening in this new phase. Staycation planning. Family get togethers. Illicit hugging. Illicit other things like hugging but involving more bodily fluids. Desperate text messages to your hairdresser begging for an appointment before Christmas. Joyful trips to Penneys/Ikea/Decathlon.
It’s hard to keep up. So knowing you are otherwise engaged I’ve come up with a handy guide to Pandemic Personality Types. (You can be a few of them all at the same time. These unprecedented times call for multiple personalities. Enjoy.)
A guide to pandemic personality types: Which one are you?
1. The Coronashamer
You never understood why people can’t just follow the rules. That 5k limit meant 5k. If Leo meant 5.5km he would have said that. You didn’t mean to be judgmental (it’s not in your nature), but you heard Big Brian from number 32 telling a neighbour how he’d visited his 97-year-old mother, across a hedge and outside the window of her flat and both of them wearing face masks but still, you know for a fact that his mother lives at least 6km away. You only put it on the neighbourhood WhatsApp and talked to Joe about Big Brian’s illegal excursion for safety reasons and you don’t understand why most of the road is no longer talking to you.
I mean rules are important. You yourself never broke the rules except, well, you don’t really count that time you went over to Nora’s back garden two days before it was strictly legal and had a packet of Pickled Onion Monster Munch and three and a half glasses of Blue Nun. (Yes you can still get it. Don’t be so judgemental).
2. The Corona Nervosa
You’d never kept a diary in your life, but in this pandemic you started one. You wrote down the numbers of cases, the deaths and also how many times you washed your hands. (Spoiler: A lot).You wrote down all the different ways you were worried you would catch the virus. You wrote down all the lingo from vectors to R-noughts and you watched every single corona briefing. Twice. You cut out all the articles about the virus and used one of those little pots of glue to stick them on the wall and then you used red marker to underline the important facts and now your bedroom looks like a serial killer lives there.
You saw hardly anyone not even on Zoom because you can’t be too careful. Your family have started calling you the Pandemic Phantom and sending concerned text messages. You now think maybe The Outside – that’s what you call the world beyond the front door – would never be safe again and Other People (which is what you call everyone that's not you) were over-rated anyway. But at least you have your health.
3. The Quarantine Craicmaker
You decided that if you had to be locked down at least you could have some fun. So you set up 17 deeply specific new WhatsApp groups for your various circles of friends, one of which is filled strictly with corona-related memes – the cornier the better – and nostalgic erotica from the 1970s. All deeply distracting, which was the point.
You organised online games tournaments with complex scoring mechanisms and locktail master classes on zoom. You spent hours cooking food for mates in your 5k and organised a click ’n’ collect service where they could barter food for cider and margaritas. You organised sing-songs on the road and formed a ukelele orchestra which is now doing an excellent – if you say so yourself – version of “Mask, Gloves, Soap, Scrubs” by Todrick Hall. The corona craic around your way was only 90. Also: You need a lie down.
4. The Corona Crafter
You can’t talk for long, sorry, you are making corona-themed bunting out of your great-granny’s old wedding dress. You don’t understand how anyone can be bored at this time. You’ve made aprons, tea-cosies and a to-scale Liberty Hall out of matchsticks. You knew at the beginning of all this that you’d craft your way through Corona, and the whole family has joined in really enthusiastically, even if sometimes it takes a while to track them down and at least one of them seems to have moved out, leaving the embroider-your-own-face-mask-kit you bought him behind.
You can’t wait to send Tony Holohan the life-sized statue of him you made, using only toilet roll inserts, tinfoil and and leftover banana bread. Has anybody seen the double-sided sticky tape?
5. The Pandemic Refusenik
You really couldn’t be doing with this lockdown lark, such a drag, so you just basically carried on same as always. Nobody could force you to social distance, so you didn’t bother and there were enough like-minded types around to meet up with – it was candemic central down the park every day.
People totally lost their minds in lockdown, people you’d normally have respect for. There was that one time when you bumped into one of of your brainiest old college friends – he has a Phd, you think in imma ... immu ... some kind of ology anyway – and you asked him for a swig from his bottle of water and he was like, "no!" and walked away. And you were like, "take a chill pill, dude". Dr Lemming you call him now. All of them, lemmings and slaves to authority.
You heard it’s all a big scam anyway, just a way to control the masses. Might head off now, you're not feeling the best. Bit of a cough. Laters.
6. The Hassled Home Schooler
Distance learning? Disaster learning more like. It was fine for a week until they started asking you how to add improper fractions. You managed that with a quick Google search, but the long division broke you. It resembled no long division you ever learned at school.
So you decided to set your own schedule. It was double Tik Tok classes all morning (self-taught, also educational; they have to learn about the digital world) while you got on with your Working From Home, then at 11am it was time for RTÉ to teach them, and after that you sat them in front of Liveline and told them to count how many times Joe said wash your hands and how many times Normal People was mentioned. By then it was wine o’clock.
All you know is if schools don’t open in September you are chaining yourself naked to the gates of Leinster House. And nobody wants that.