Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Plight of the Introverted

The other day my daughters and I went grocery shopping at one of those warehouse type clubs that has a person at the door checking to make sure you have your membership card. As we walked in, my younger daughter said to the lady who was the warehouse club legitimacy checker, "HI! I like your hat!!"

The woman was wearing a 49ers hat. Because the 49ers are her daddy's team, our five year old can recognize the logo from a mile away and will usually go to great lengths to let you know she approves. She also recognizes the Raiders logo and will go to even greater lengths to let those fans that she does NOT approve. But I digress.

We continued walking, but the lady called us back. She wanted to give Charlotte a sticker for "being so nice", so Charlotte, Lily and I walked back over. As she pulled out her sticker stash, she kept saying over and over that Charlotte was such a "nice girl, sooooo friendly!" I watched how she was interacting with my girls, fawning over Charlotte, but avoiding eye contact with Lily, who at the mention of "sticker" walked back over with her sister for the prize. My heart started to beat a little faster, because something in her body language and how she kept going on and on and ON about how "friendly and nice" Charlotte is, was telling me that maybe she wasn't going to give one to Lily. I watched the scene play out and waited.

The woman pulled out sparkly, pink, scented cupcake stickers and both girls gasped and ooed and ahhed, because at 5 and 8 years old stickers are a Really Big Deal. Heck, I'm 34 and I thought they were pretty. Lily happened to be closer and silently pointed to a sticker she liked. The lady yanked away the stickers and motioned to Charlotte, "the friendly one" to come get her sticker, because "She was friendly!"

At that point I knew that the lady really didn't want to acknowledge my seemingly unfriendly kid, and she certainly did not want to give her a sticker. I told Lily, "be friendly, say hi", to which Lily waved and got the pained look on her face that she gets when she's uncomfortable and dosen't know what to do with herself. The lady, seeing her face, got exasperated and said, "well, now, don't throw a fit, take a sticker!" Lily happily choose her sticker and skipped off with her sister while I pushed the cart away in silent, seething rage. Never a good place to be where 20 gallon buckets of frosting can be purchased.

I was so angry at myself for chirping to Lily, "Be friendly!" as if she had done anything wrong, when she was just being herself. I was angry at the lady for thinking that because one of my kids is outgoing and the other one isn't, that one of them was "friendly" and the other one wasn't. I was hurt that she thought my kid was "going to throw a fit". Though to be fair, if she had denied her the sticker, there would have been fits thrown, alright, just maybe not from Lily. Mostly, I was angry and sad because it isn't the first time, nor will it be the last time that my daughter's aloof, quiet personality will be mistaken for unfriendliness.

Besides, as someone who was a very outgoing child, it ain't all it's cracked up to be. My energy and humor was usually too big for four walls. Extroverts are frequently called shallow or told they suck the life force from everyone in the room, especially introverts (didn't you that is really how Darth Vader got his power?). Yes, the world seems to reward extroverts, but all while thinking the extroverted are foolish and impulsive, overbearing and aggressive.

I may have been hungry or hormonal or both, but it took the bulk of my shopping trip to stop fuming. Thankfully, past the initial interaction Lily didn't seem to notice, and the stickers were probably lost before we got home. The biggest thing that bothers me is that one day my girls will notice the differences in their personalities and feel badly because of how they are wired, or worse, think that her sister is less than because she is wired differently.

I am 100% positive that if the lady was wearing a Raiders hat that this post would be titled, "The Plight of the Extroverted".

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