Orange butterfly with black spots resting on purple thistle

Introvert or extrovert?

On the social pendulum I swing both ways. But I linger longingly in the solitary moments. Prone to ponder, observe, investigate.  I can go long stretches with nothing but my garden, my man, and my dog.

Isolation is a cloak for me. A cocoon of quiet in the chaos. But the fabric eventually wears thin. Never meant to last forever. The light peeks in. I peek out. Breaking free to flutter and dance with the world becomes essential.

Social butterflies. They are radiant and bold. Painting the sky with colors. Signaling to each other. It’s an exchange that leaves both parties more vibrant than before. No wonder a group of butterflies is called a kaleidoscope.

I am more of a firefly. My love-light blinks brighter outside of the crowds and bustling chaos. When the timing feels right. Discouraged and losing rhythm if something flashes too bright. But still, always awaiting connection.

Everyone knows the fireflies are still out there, but they fly or rest on grass blade in visual silence. They blink on and off, a lime glow to the summer night air, as if to say: I am still here, you are still here, I am still here, you are still here, I am, you are…over and over again.

Aimee Nezhukumatahil

I do not have the gift of gab. I am not easy breezy. But I thrive on conversations with friends. Many times over the years I have beat back the social introvert dragon. Created my own kind of space for togetherness.

Shy and reticent. No. Self-conscious. Yes. I have accepted party invitations. Thrilled to be included. Then spent the next few weeks dreading it and planning an escape. If unsuccessful, I would set myself in a corner. Talk to the one person I knew.  All night.

Like my pup who hesitates to meet new pooches. Rosie is watchful. Waits for a friendly tail wag. A signal. She moves in slow. But will full body sprint to her buddy Ritchie. Whether he’s in the mood to play or not.

As I grow older. Know myself better. Accept and even appreciate my boundaries. I choose to make it simple and decline invitations that don’t feel cozy or comfortable. I push myself instead to the gathering of friends. A walk. A talk. A dinner served with deep conversations and peppered with laughter. Every individual arrives acknowledged and accepted. 

I don’t want to claim a seat at the table. I like to know a chair has already been reserved for me.

I rolled the dice in 2006. Forming “Bunco Babes” was one of my better “stretch yourself” ideas. Such a silly game. But also brilliant. Three, four-person tables that mix and match through the night. A large group made to feel small. As comfort rose, the game playing stopped. No one wanted to interrupt their conversations to switch tables. We are still “playing” after a brief pandemic pause.

My walking group of seven began around the same time. Seven on a sidewalk is hilarious to navigate. But the stories we’ve shared and life hiccups we’ve tackled together are endless. We are sole sisters. Who now mostly meet for happy hour. Covid had us Zooming around with beverages in hand. Our group chats are epic. Step away and you’ll have 46 texts waiting.   

I joined a Book Club. It’s hard to describe how this group of six women fell into sync. Bonded instantly. Effortless. Even when the book is a bomb, it ignites topics of thoughtful conversation. I have learned so much from these honest and open humans.  

So, not a Yoda am I. It turns out social introverts need people, too. Kind, inclusive, light-giving friends. Who meet me where I’m comfortable. But also pull me out of my quiet zen zone to exchange experiences and share wisdom. 

We are showered every day with gifts, but they are not meant for us to keep. Their life is in their movement, the inhale and the exhale of our shared breath. Our work and our joy is to pass along the gift and to trust that what we put out into the universe will always come back.

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Writer. Photographer. Future Master Gardener. Artsy miid-life mama planting seeds for the second half.

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