My wife Adrianne sees herself as an extraverted sort of introvert, and she is. If introversion is a mixed drink, Adrianne’s sometimes has a little extra extravert thrown in to spice things up a bit. It all depends on her mood, though, along with her fatigue level and a host of other factors.
I see myself as an introverted sort of introvert, and I am. My introversion cocktail almost always features a double-shot of introvert to solidify the taste. And that tends to be that. There is rarely any “it depends.”
How does this distinction play out in real life for us? Well, speaking of drinks … let’s talk about happy hour.
My wife is one of those special saints known as a first-grade teacher. You can only imagine the energy she expends each day as she addresses children’s difficulties both real and imagined. She has to actually deal with “he’s looking at me,” “I have to go to the bathroom,” and an assortment of other emergencies every minute, making dozens of quick decisions in the process. She is on constantly. I go in to the school on occasion to help volunteer (since three of our own kids attend Adrianne’s school as well), and I’m toast in two hours flat. I don’t even know how she — or her colleagues — stay alive. Or sane.
So it’s not surprising to me that Adrianne is herself toast by many a Thursday night. This past Thursday night was no different — except that her colleagues had invited her to go to happy hour with them after work the next day.
And she had no idea what to do.
Now, happy hour is an easy-to-bat-off oxymoron to an introverted introvert like me. I know with certainty, well ahead of time — I could give you my answer a year in advance — that I will not at all be happy spending an hour (or more) in a bar or restaurant setting surrounded by loud music and a din of voices that drown out any possible meaningful conversation I could have with someone. I will never be happy during happy hour. Unless it gets moved to the coffee shop and I can sit there drinking a latte by myself and reading a good book. Ahh. Now, that’s a happy hour. Otherwise, no thanks.
Easy decision. A no-brainer for an introverted introvert like me.
Adrianne, on the other hand, was torn about whether to go to happy hour, which made her even more stressed than she already was. She wasn’t torn by some sense of obligation. No, this was real. Half of her, almost literally, desperately wanted to take part and hang out with her colleagues in a non-work setting, perhaps trading war stories or, even better, talking about anything but work and kids. But the other half of her knew she would pay a price for going to happy hour, even if she had the time of her life; that she’d be more exhausted afterward than she was going in. And that there would be no guarantee that the weekend in our busy family would bring any real opportunity for her to recharge her batteries. Not completely, at least.
So Adrianne had yet another decision to make — a hard one — after yet another day already filled with them. And in some ways it was a no-winner for an extraverted introvert like her.
The decision couldn’t have been easier for me had I been in her shoes. There would have been no decision at all, really. There would have been nothing to wrestle with, no sense of being pulled in two equally plausible directions at once.
Adrianne had to fight through all of that and more. Because while she and I share so much, both as husband and wife and as fellow introverts, her unique sense of introversion plays out in slightly but significantly different ways from mine at times.
And you can say that about any two introverts you might compare side by side. They will be similar. Very similar. But they will not — they cannot — ever be the same.
And happy hour’s only the start.