Dealing with cancer as a fiercely independent introvert (Part 1)

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.



9 thoughts on “Dealing with cancer as a fiercely independent introvert (Part 1)

  1. Fantastic pix!!!! And take time to recover, time for yourself. I’m happy you’re still up for writing the blog 🙂 xoxo!

  2. Sound like having really fantastic shoes is key 🙂 Thanks for your vulnerable blogging~ and for inviting others in to your lives.

    The Gaffneys

  3. Oh dear…. So recognisable! Apart from the cancer part, its like you’re talking about me. Im the same. I talk a lot, I’m not afraid of public, but I’d rather spend time with my own personal company to ‘re-charge’. Yup, I’m a definite introvert, much to everyones’ surprise! Glad you find you’ve worked out how to work with the dillemma.. Now lets hope you get lots more messages to keep you going! And yes please, keep us informed via the non-face-to-face channels! Keep up the sunny smile….. 🙂

  4. Such a cool ‘koninginnedag’ outfit for an introvert! 😉
    Nice to bump into you guys at the market yesterday.
    (we met at vineyard, in case you don’t recognise the name 🙂
    PS. that bit about the phone…cool to read that, so recognisable!

  5. Hi Lynnea & Jonathan
    we sure enjoy reading all your reports on how you are doing Lynnea on your blog, keep up the good work and we like the blonde look
    All our Love Grandma & Grandpa

  6. Hi Lynnea,

    So you are an introvert too . 🙂
    Nothing wrong with that. I am too and i actually
    am glad that i’m not the person that cannot be alone for a while. A lot of people who don’t seem to be introverts actually are. It’s funny that in many cases you can’t tell that the person has
    this personality. In the short time we hang out you maybe noticed my introvertness, but maybe not.
    A few people first thought i was arrogant, but only until they talked with me LOL.

    Your blond look is cool too. You can wear any
    colour you want (never green or blue i hope).
    Lots of good energy your way!

  7. Glad you got to enjoy a bit of the festivities… you are so impressive… Queen’s Day is always fun (and overwhelming) no matter what. Ly, this is a very great post into how you are managing this and how we – as your friends & family – can best support you!!

    By the way, I also have never liked talking on the phone. So, will be sure to text/ fb… 😉

  8. What a wonderful and honest update! I love your blog and this little glimpse into how you and Jonathan are doing. Enjoy the quiet recharging of being home alone – there’s nothing like it! And orange suits you perfectly! 😉


  9. Pingback: Dealing with cancer as a fiercely independent introvert (Part 2) | Burning Brightly

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