Have you ever realized something so profoundly basic about yourself that it abruptly shifted your perspective of the Universe into a much more cohesive picture? Something so mind-numbingly obvious that, although you knew it all along, you blatantly ignored its relevance?
My epiphany? I just realized that that I’m an introvert.
To any that really know me, this is nothing extraordinary. And, deep down, I was not surprised either. But I just now realized what it means to be an introvert and how it affects not only how I relate to people, but why I do some of the things that I previously thought inexplicable.
One example of how my introversion affects how I relate to people is my internal conflict with my mother-in-law. She is undoubtedly an extrovert. She will go to great lengths to ensure that she does not miss a party. She has flown from Arizona to Chicago and stayed with us (for weeks on end) in order to attend weddings, baby showers, wedding showers, grammar school reunions, and birthdays, even when there isn’t a party. I have been even been browbeaten into going to her cousin’s son’s wedding (whom I have never met) because she believes that it’s rude for even barely related people to be absent. When she stays with us, it grates on my every nerve. I used to think that it was just that I wasn’t used to having relatives stay with us for weeks at a time. I used to think it was because we lived in such a small house, but my feelings didn’t change when we bought a larger house. I used to think that it was a generational issue. But it’s not. It’s because she is an extrovert and I am an introvert.
My children, as well, have suffered because of my introversion. Right now, being home with them – all the time, every day – is killing me. There’s no escape. They are constantly interrupting my train of thought for a snack, a drink, a snuggle, to go outside, to come inside, to play a game, to kiss an injury, or to referee a disagreement. They wake me up in the morning by snuggling with me in my bed and, in the evening, make at least seven excursions out of bed to verify that I am still close enough to save them from whatever boogeyman they believe lurks beneath their beds. I love them, but I am drained. All I really want is for a few moments of peace and quiet, and when I don’t get it, I get cranky. The longer I go without “mommy time” the more foul tempered I get, snapping at the children when they ask for something, growling at them to stop the never-ending bickering and incessant noise. But until today, I never really realized that it was my introverted nature that was responsible for my behavior.
Introversion has also affected me on the job. I loved flying cargo at night in a light twin because I was alone. However, when I advanced to a Learjet, despite the fact that I loved operating the equipment, I was stuck in a space smaller than a solitary confinement cell with another human being for 8 – 12 hours a night. It is likely that any poor soul stuck in a cockpit with me for any length of time experienced more than a few lashes of my sharp tongue.
Even now, there are days that I desperately want to be able to have a “mom-friend” with whom I can hang out and swap stories, but I never seem to be able to make the effort to ask any of the awesome moms that I know to even join me for a cup of coffee.
Introversion has always been a part of my personality. I avoid confrontation at all costs. I enjoy a good party, but I have talked myself into staying home at the last minute on many occasions because I just don’t have the energy. I love my solitary walks. I love the library, but going to the library with my kids completely ruins the experience for me. I love Facebook. It allows me to keep tabs on all my friends without actually having to expend any energy if I choose not to be social. I love my children, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not ready to run away and join the circus to finally be alone with my thoughts.
I always wanted to be an aerialist. It figures, they work alone. Introversion strikes again.