Someone told me a joke once: “What is the difference between an introverted engineer and an extroverted engineer?” Answer: an introverted engineer stares at his shoes while talking to you and an extroverted engineer stares as your shoes. Hardy har har. Hilarious. :-) While this joke pokes fun at the (sometimes accurate, mostly inaccurate) stereotype of the socially awkward, pocket protector wearing engineer it also misrepresents the difference between introversion and extroversion.
I am an introvert. It comes out in every personality test I take. When I tell people this they are sometimes quite surprised because they see me as a friendly, outgoing, social person…which is also true. The two are not mutually exclusive. The difference between introversion and extroversion isn’t measured by how social you are but by where you get your energy. I love being with people but it costs me energy to do it and I need to recharge by myself after. Extroverts will gain energy when they are with people and spend more energy to be alone. (Side note: I think personalities are fascinating)
Being a “social” introvert with cancer has created quite a dilemma. We have collected friends here in the Netherlands and around the world, who care for us dearly and who are concerned about how we are doing. But processing through and dealing with everything we have to face leaves my energy reserves low. So at a time when people are reaching out to us more than ever my ability to respond to it has never been lower. See: Dilemma. I still go out in social settings now but I have to check myself first to see if I have the capacity for it and I have to mentally prepare for it. I have to prepare myself to answer the same questions over and over (seriously, it’s like sorority rush cancer edition) because friends want to know how I am feeling and how we are doing. But honestly, if you are here reading this you should have a pretty good idea. We have intentionally set this up and share our feelings/thoughts in a way to help people feel included in our process. This is our way of addressing the dilemma.
Friends have mentioned to me that they wish they could do more to support us personally. I have to say that sending a care package, e-mail, card, comment on the blog, text message, or reaching out on Facebook is the PERFECT way to support right now. Honestly. We read them all, it lets us know you’re thinking about us but gives me the freedom to respond when I feel up for it. If you call me out of the blue, I’m sorry but I will most likely ignore it, because 1. I don’t like talking on the phone and 2. I haven’t had a chance to mentally prepare. It’s just the way life is right now. Jonathan, does not appear to have the same problem I do so if you feel the need to call…call him. :-)
Update: Things after the first treatment have continued to be quite OK. I have my tired days but in general feel pretty good. The only major side effect is that my taste buds have gone haywire and my mouth has a constant metallic taste. It’s not pleasant but it will be manageable for the next 4.5 months. It was Queen’s Day yesterday and the weather was beautiful so we wandered into town to check out the markets and music. I decided to try out a blonde look as I toasted the Queen with the rest of Groningen. What do you think? It was a fun day but I can tell today that I spent too much energy yesterday and will be on the couch most of the day recovering. But, it was worth it.