Scott posted that quote up there on Facebook yesterday and it got me thinking about how things have changed since I was younger, and specifically about how it's easier to be introverted now. I wrote a post about that yesterday, and about a couple of moments in my life where I've chosen to be a little bit extraverted for a particular reason.
I don't particularly like talking to strangers most of the time. There are a lot of reasons for this, but I think the most basic one is that I would generally prefer to keep to myself. Though the assessment has plenty of weaknesses, whenever I take a Myers-Briggs test I typically am told that I'm an INTP (the I is for introvert¹). It is strange, then, that my job specifically entails talking to people. Lots of people. Week 1 (way back in Feb. 2011) was an exercise in learning not to be afraid of a ringing telephone. I've learned to be okay with it, because the other big component of my job entails being helpful, and I really like being helpful. At least I hope so because otherwise I am not fit for my job.²
Last weekend my family and two other families to whom Caitlin is related went on a vacation to Michigan's splendid Upper Peninsula. (Her dad and youngest brother also came along. She is related to them too.) By the time we made it into the U.P. from Wisconsin, my cell phone had lost service and wouldn't regain it until we drove from the U.P. to the Mitten across the Mackinac Bridge.³ As a result, one of my primary methods of avoiding human contact was rendered inert.
On our way home, a strange thing happened. I approached pairs of strangers on two separate occasions to ask if they would like me to take their photo. I don't know if it was my good mood, all the practice not looking at my phone, my general desire to be helpful, or memories of gratitude when a stranger offered to take our photo (twice! Once on our honeymoon in Tennessee, and once on a family trip to Houston, TX), but at any rate here I was, walking up to one half of a couple taking the other half's photo, walking up to a person awkwardly holding her arm out to get a two-person selfie, and essentially saying "hey, I would like to be part of your life for a moment."
It went well. They seemed happy, I felt helpful, and nobody gave me a sideways look. Maybe it helped that, should they think me weird, I knew I'd probably never see them again. Anyway, it was fine. You should try it sometime.
¹Somebody should make a children's book about psychology called I is for Introvert. It could have intricate coloring pages in the back that take hours to complete.
²Insert potential mini-crisis here.
³The astute reader will note that our outbound and inbound routes differed. Indeed, we circumnavigated Lake Michigan. Hurrah!