Saturday, February 25, 2012

First Sleepover

That's right. Over President's Day weekend, when "da Boss," "da Mrs," and "Ms Eden" all went skiing, Mr Hunter had his first sleepover. Here he is, ready to go.
I may or may not have shed a tear. It's pretty big business, after all, sending your best good dog out in the world...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Stay Back! I'm an Introvert.

My first discovery of this term as an identity occurred during a sport's physical when I was in high school.  The doctor (a dottering old fussbudget who habitually spoke to himself in the presence of other people) had seen my little sister just before I came in for the alls-well.  After no fewer than five largely silent minutes in my presence he muttered, "Yes, yes, very interesting...one an extreme extrovert, the other an extreme introvert..." For all I knew, he was diagnosing my patellas, but either way I had the distinct impression that he would likely record this insight in a covert notebook and eventually harvest me as a specimen for some mad-scientist convention.  Outrageous, you say?  You didn't see his turkey-tailed gray mange, smell his coffee breath, or fall on the receiving end of that penetrating and scholarly stare.  Trust me, the dude was whack. 

Introvert.  An article recently featured in Time describes it this way: "prefers to be alone or in small groups; is quickly exhausted by parties and other large social situations." This in contrast to the extrovert, who: "finds large crowds and social situations energizing; becomes easily bored when alone."  When I was a brand new missionary, one of my senior companions suffered from acute homesickness.  She would always ask me, "Aren't you homesick?  Don't you miss your family?" But although I loved and missed my family, the separation wasn't unbearable.  No.  What nearly did me in was talking all day long...to PEOPLE.  They were everywhere!  And it was my job to engage them.  I loved sharing the gospel, but it was always exhausting. My daydreams during that time inevitably led to somewhere silent and open, a mountaintop where I could see the sunset and just be. 

We live in an extrovert's world. A world of ten thousand Facebook friends and a job market where you have to stand out if you want your application to have any hope against the other hundred in the  stack. Both of the principals who hired me for teaching jobs told me later that despite all of my education, qualifications and glowing recommendations, they nearly passed me by because of a quiet voice and reserved demeanor.  Ironically, their instincts were true although their reasoning wasn't.  They feared that my quietness meant I wouldn't be able to control a classroom of rowdy kids; so not a problem.  I'm an introvert, not spineless!  But they were right in the sense that teaching in a public school was a terrible career choice for me.  For me, not for my students.  I did it, and (with no false modesty) I did it well.  But by the end of most days my need for serenity was so cavernous that I couldn't even stand to listen to the radio on the way home.  For some other teachers their load of 230 students was a crowd-surfing, social half-time show.  For me it was a four-fingers-deep shot of stress.  I guess it's never easy to be what you are not.

And that's the crux of the matter for us introverts.  In a culture that values loudness and the socially prolific, there's a lot of external pressure to be that.  Internal pressure too. I spend excessive time fretting about how many friends I don't have (though my few friendships are sweet and golden).  I get all excited to cook and clean and host big family gatherings (and then get totally stressed out when they occur). I envision the most gorgeous tablescapes for parties (then feel like a failure at life because it requires more than three people to make a party). Sounds like I need better expectation-management, huh?  But I can't always be the hermit on the hill with the sunset. 

And then there's Eden, bless her exuberant little soul in a household of introverts.  She's never met someone who isn't a friend.  Her favorite activities include being tickled, "dropped", tossed, squeezed, and every other baby daredevil stunt.  The girl is fearless (with the exception of the blender's noise, which sends her into freak-fits).  See they say that whether you're an introvert, extrovert, or somewhere in between is inborn and manifest by 4-1/2 months. And I do believe we've got a little extrovert on our hands here.  Which sounds a lot to me like a life-long invitation to a party.  It's delightful now, but where one extrovert is gathered, more shall surely follow.  Should be interesting! :)

SO what about you (if you even made it to the end of this extremely long and self-obsessed post).  Are you an introvert?  Extrovert?  Tweenie?  What pitfalls do you run into based on your nature?