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What It's Like for This Introvert to Raise an Extroverted Kid

Photograph by Twenty20

I’ve always been a bit on the shy side. I hoped it would get better as I grew into adulthood, but the truth is, groups of people make me want to escape.

In high school, I realized my shyness was actually separate from my desire to want to be alone in my room talking with my best friend rather than partying with 50 people. I still liked going out, but I loved having downtime.

Now in my 30s, I have learned to embrace the fact that I'm an introvert. I love catching up over coffee with a close friend versus going out with a group of acquaintances from college at a bar and grill. It's not that I don’t like socializing. I’m a writer, which means I spend a lot of time not talking to people. So, when I get the chance, I love my time in a circle of friends.

I get that my daughter thrives when she's around people, and it's my job to encourage her instead of suppressing her.

But having my daughter has drastically changed my life, and I am having to now force myself out of my comfort zone on a weekly basis. My daughter is loud and proud. She relishes racing around with a pack of kids (bonus points if they’re loud too). She’s barely potty trained, but the girl is schooling me in what it means to be extroverted, to become energized in a crowd and restless when she’s home with just me.

I like the comfort of home. I used to love coming home from my hospital job as a nurse and relaxing on the couch with my husband, who’s also an introvert, talking our days over with pizza. It was exhausting keeping up with the energy of my coworkers.

But now I’m home with a baby who just doesn’t quit. She's teaching me what it's like to be constantly around an extrovert. Sometimes she'll climb on me so much before I realize it’s human interaction she’s craving, and a trip to the library is in order. When we’re out in public, she’s the one frantically waving to the woman behind us in the checkout line and babbling about her dress. This means I am the one who needs to turn around and smile and make the dreaded small talk every introvert cringes at. Did I mention I'm terrible at small talk?

I get that my daughter thrives when she's around people, and it's my job to encourage her instead of suppressing her. She’s also pushing me to have new experiences. I may not always like it, and it's certainly not always comfortable, but it's a fine dance you play when you and your child get your energy from difference sources. Isn't that what parenthood is all about, though? No matter what our personalities, we're all being pushed way into the realm of unfamiliar territory and wishing for five minutes of quiet.

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