Friday, May 13, 2016

Extrovert vs. Introvert


I am an introvert. To my very core. I wouldn't consider myself "painfully" shy or super awkward in social situations, but being out and about and mingling and chatting take energy and effort. After a night at a relief society activity or something similar, I'm usually happy I went and mostly enjoyed myself while I was there, but am drained. If I'm in a situation where I'm in a crowd and don't know anyone, I feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable. I don't even want to be there, a little bit. I'm not the type of mom to start up small talk with another mom at the playground. Or to start a conversation with the person in front of me in the checkout line. That's just not something I enjoy or crave or find fulfilling. 

Both Reed and Asher are introverts to different degrees and in different ways. I understand that part of them, even if their brand of introvertism is different from mine, because I can empathize.

Lila is not an introvert. Not even a little bit. Two experiences today highlighted that fact for me. The first came while we were at the splash pad. Another little boy around Lila's age was there, too. He tagged along after Asher and Lila, clearly wanting to play with them. Asher mostly ignored the other boy (not in a rude way, but more in a "I'll let you follow me around but I'm not going to initiate a conversation" way). Lila, on the other hand, ended up playing a game with the other boy where they were both doggies and would follow my instructions on various ways to race--like crawling, hopping, skipping, etc. She loved having another person to play with and was totally willing to play with someone she didn't know at all. Later, we were at the elementary school play ground, waiting to pick Reed up from school. Asher was doing his own thing on the monkey bars. Lila was playing on the slide. I noticed a girl a year or two older smile at Lila and say hi. The next thing I knew, Lila, the girl, and another little girl were doing choo-choo trains going down the slide. There is no way either of my boys would have played with (or even said hi back to) someone they didn't know at all. But Lila was happy as could be.

The reason this has been on my mind, I think, is because lately I've been living kind of an extrovert life. I've babysat for friends more times than I can even count over the past month and have had friends babysit my kids a handful of times, too. Every week for the past few we've had something every day (be it babysitting or a play date or a doctor's appointment or whatever) and I realized that my energy is spent. Going, going, going is so draining for me not only because of the physical energy required but because of the mental/emotional toll I feel. I made a goal this week to not babysit for anyone (and actually turned someone down, which I felt really bad about) and to not make any plans other than helping at Reed's field day. I needed down time. The result has been a great week--for me, at least. One day we spent entirely at home. We cleaned the house, then the kids played in the pool for over an hour while I watched them and relaxed. Then I read them a gigantic stack of books (still outside) and we ate lunch at our picnic table. Today, we went to the splash pad, without anyone else. I am already feeling rejuvenated, especially knowing that I'm not babysitting for anyone Thursday or Friday, either (ha). I know Asher has enjoyed our week, too. And I think Lila has--but then we have experiences like today where her extrovert tendencies are glaringly obvious and I worry about not fulfilling her need to connect.

I'm not sure what the point of my rambling is, other than to acknowledge that we have different needs, and hope to find a way to create fulfilling opportunities for each of us, introvert and extrovert.

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