Your Smiles Make Me Smile

If you really want to get the most out of my blog, it's best to start with the first post written in July to the present since some blogs refer back to earlier posts; but any order is just fine... Thanks for visiting! Now scroll on down to the good news! ~Renae~

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Curse Of The Extrovert

I’m sneaking in this writing under the “guise” of eating my breakfast, while Richard is patiently waiting for me to help him grout my tile.  You see, I am an extrovert; I need people, lots of people. I truly believe that we are pack animals whether we are extroverts or introverts; we need one another. Very few people are like the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, who chose to live as a recluse in a remote cabin in the Montana wilderness, without electricity or running water. He was not an extrovert, nor a pack animal, he was a cat; and not the soft purry cuddly kind.

So here is my theory -- the introverts were born lucky....oh so very very lucky.  They only need a small tight knit group of people in their lives, seldom crave daily socializing, and are perfectly content to spend time alone.  But I, on the other hand, have been cursed.  I am only 2% introvert according to the well renowned and approved in most psychiatric circles, Keirsey and Bates temperament chart.  Don't ask me how I know that.  This means that 98% of the time I am needy of the attention of others.  Lots of others.  It is only 2% of the time, and sometimes less, that I don’t take your calls or tell you how busy I was when in fact, I was just snuggling up in my bed with a book wanting the world to go away.  But most of the time.....sigh, I am needy of you.

Now my brother, of who I will not mention names because he doesn't like to be in the spotlight (we'll just call him "the introvert") is the exact opposite - 98% introvert, and 2% extrovert.  (If you know which brother I'm talking about, think about often does he take your calls? Ummm-hmmm....he's "always" busy.)  After 49 years of observation, I don't need a book to tell me that we are two very different people, but I did just figure while writing this why he was always the favorite.  Extroverts can be annoying and high maintenance.  We are the ones that swear we will die without our Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, and email fix, and so happy that we didn't miss anything while we stepped away from the computer.  This is the curse of extrovertism (I just made that word up and I like it!)

Any my opinion, extrovertism is a form of narcissism. I need your approval, your friendship, your companionship,  the connection, and a sense of being needed.  Without you I am nothing more than the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz that gets dosed with water and melts into a puddle of water.  "Help meeeeeeee, I'm meeeellllllttttiiiiinnnnnnggggg."  This could also be a form of insecurity but because my list of “issues” is already too long, for the sake of semantics, we'll  just refer to it as "a dilemma."  I do know this, when my phone isn’t ringing, I’m making calls….mom, dad, Becky, Eileen, Katie, Annie, Kevin, Richard, Monica, Nicole, Peggy….and when no one is there to answer (because they are probably snuggled in bed with a good book), I start going through my phone list of names.  Aaron – “nope, bad ex-tenant..delete”; Alan “nope, already tried, won't take my call”, through the B’s, C’s, D’s….and if I had a friend whose name started with Z, I would try them too, maybe even a few times out of desperation if I've gotten to the end of the alphabet.  Sometimes I admittedly go through my phone list twice just in case I missed anyone.  It's hard being me.

I realize, I need to breathe. I need to find that place of calm where I know that I still exist just because no one can fulfill that immediate connection I so desire. I’m still somebody. I think.  But why is this hitting me now in my life? This sense of....fear. Maybe it's because my daughters are grown, or maybe it's realizing that the woman that I think is Vera H. Edwards (see "She's Speaking to Me From Beyond the Grave") had no next of kin listed at the cemetery where she was interred. Will my daughters be there with me when I die or will I die alone like Vera may have? What is to become of me?

It isn’t that when my daughters were little and I was needed every second of the day that I didn't spend time on the phone seeking that connection to others, I admit, I did. But that was wanting adult conversation more than being needy.  There was a time when my phone bills to Alaska exceeded $800.00 prior to cell phone contracts and unlimited calling.  When I hear people complain about their $50.00 a month phone bill I think “You have no idea.”  Fortunately, I didn't live in my mother's era (the 1960's) when people had to go through the operator to place a long distance phone call, it was considered a major purchase; something to be discussed between my mom and dad before my mom ever called her family in California (from Alaska).  She had to set a timer and was allotted five to ten minutes, of which the whole time she would spend crying anyway because she was so homesick.  Thankfully, my mother is an introvert and didn't have to make those calls daily.  I am definitely my father's daughter. 

But then, in the early 1970’s, direct dialing was invented.  Teen Beat Magazine promised that I could call David Cassidy and it wouldn’t “ring up my parents’ pocketbook.”  (If you don't know who this is because you are too young, think Partridge Family Reruns).  I took this ad to mean it was free, and so, being the extrovert and staying true to character, I called….and called….and called….and called.  What did I hear? Nothing more than a recorded muffled interview with some woman and David Cassidy.  One day my introverted brother said “You know they can trace those calls and mom and dad can get billed for it!”  “Nuh-Uh!” I exclaimed with worry and my usual furrowed brow.  “Uh-huh!” he said, with his usual half-cocked grin.  And then he proceeded to run to the kitchen to tell mom while she was washing dishes.  "Mooooooommmmmm! Renae......."  “You did whaaaaaaattttt?”  She asked. All I remember saying was "Well he made some calls too!"  I think there were like, 67 calls to David Cassidy on the phone bill that month, mostly from me.  Fortunately, my parents were good friends with the wife of the owner of the Anchorage Judo School where my brother regularly took lessons from the infamous Mr. Hildebrandt, and conveniently for me, his wife worked for the phone company.  She managed to get the phone bill reduced to half, and I avoided eye contact with my parents for the next five years.  That’s the trouble that extroverts get themselves into at times.

But it hasn’t been until of recent, that I have felt fearful of what my future holds.  When my daughters don’t have time to call, or come around for a week or two, I fear losing the only two humans in the world who have ever depended on me.  They don’t really need me anymore.  On the occasional day that their world is falling apart and I get the sobbing phone call when they are in need of their mommy, I am secretly, relieved.  But that is the exception, not the rule.  The rest of the time I am left to wonder.  Am I needed? If I died in bed, how many days would it take before somebody really started to worry? I am guessing about 48 hours before Richard would drive out….because as an extrovert, I have so many people to talk to, so many things to do, that I don’t always quickly return calls.  My lifestyle leaves me somewhat unpredictable.  And so, in the 2% moments, I worry that I am just avoiding the obvious, no one really needs me anymore. 

So what am I left with?  Admittedly, I am scared.  As an extrovert, I am not good at the thought of being alone.  Yet, just a few days ago, at the peak of my fragility, something really wonderful happened.  Something that gave me a dose of reality that it's all going to be okay.  It could have been so easily missed on any other day, but on this particular day the universe must have picked up on my obsessive worry and gifted me with the answer that I sought. It was this simple.  I picked up the six and ten year old brothers from school that I often care for.  The six year old was sitting in the back of my car pensively thinking about something that was of obvious concern to him.  “Renae?”  He asked.  “Yes…..”  I responded.  “Do you watch any other children other than me and my brother?”  “No, just you two.”  I replied.  He let out a sigh of relief.  Then, as we walked into their house, both boys anxiously guided me to their father's office to show me their chalkboard.  In the handwriting of a six year old carefully written in chalk were the words, “The Letter Of The Day Is ‘R’."  Just below that were the words "The Favorite Person of the Week is 'Renae'.”  I let out an even greater sigh of relief.

As long as there are people on the planet, I will be okay.

Sweet Dreams and Always, GOOD Dreams....


Anonymous said...

Renae, You Rock!

Marylou Retton

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Wilbur,

Your teachings are wise, and life is ultimately a combination of perspectives and attitudes. I like yours.

Mahatma Ghandi

Anonymous said...

You sound like me, before I had my O W N network. Bravo girl,

Oprah Winfree

Anonymous said...

Very nice. I can only wish my own approval rating was as high as yours.

Barack Obama

Anonymous said...

We stopped fighting Boris and Natasha long enough to thoroughly enjoy your posts!

Rocky and Bullwinkle

Anonymous said...

Oh My! I HAVE made it big! The paparazzi just took cellulite photos for the National Enquirer. I KNEW this would happen! ~Renae~

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