I dropped Sash off at O’Hare International Airport last Friday (today’s Sunday). She’s in Anchorage, AK by now, visiting clients there. I’ll be on my own for three weeks. By then, I will pick up her at the airport in Portland, OR. I’ll be towing the trailer through Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, and Washington on the way there.
Being alone for that period of time is actually great for me.
Introverts like me love having alone-time. I do like having friends, and I do like being with them. But, I’m not very talkative, and I find it hard to contribute to a conversation. I wouldn’t mind hanging out with people if they didn’t mind me not saying much. On the other hand, I feel pressure to contribute to a conversation, and if I can’t think of anything, I’m often struck with anxiety and panic. If I push myself to find something to say, I end up saying something dumb or confusing, and then people start asking for clarification, and that intensifies my panic.
So, anxiety contributes to my preference for solitude.
It’s said that 3/4 of the population are extroverts, leaving the other 1/4 as introverts. And that seems to make sense, especially here in the United States. Americans by nature are expressive, aggressive, enterprising, demonstrative… And I’m actually all those things too. But person-to-person exchange is a skill that has to be taught. You’re not just born with it. I say this because there was a time, when I was extroverted. Up until the age of 8 or 9, I was a real “chatty Cathy”. My teachers complained to my mom at how often I talked and interrupted class. I think I was that way because I was getting a lot of interaction from my mother, and a lot of pressure from her to excel. I think it was my parents divorcing, when I was 7, that changed the wheels in motion and reversed my course. My mother became less interactive with me. My father was still absent due to his commitments in the Navy, but he too was also introverted and just didn’t spend much time with me.
As I got into the higher grades, and eventually college, I moved further into introversion. Even today, at age 52, I can feel myself becoming increasingly introverted.
Sash, by contrast, is an extrovert. She needs to express herself, she needs that feedback, she needs that person-to-person exchange of thoughts, feelings, and understanding.
As a couple, living full time in an RV, it gets to be a challenge in trying to find a healthy balance for both of us. RVing can be a very solitary adventure, but it can also very social. Thus far, she and I have tended to remain on the social spectrum of things. We document our travels on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and this very blog. We look up friends when we arrive at a particular town. We get invited to park our trailer on people’s property, and get invited to hang out for dinner. Just recently, Sash organized a rally for ATC Toy Hauler owners. All that socializing helps market us as a marketing company.
But for me, being the introvert part of this relationship, that amount of socializing, expressing, and exchanging really wears me out. Parking our trailer on people’s property, and camping there for weeks at a time, is rather stressful for me. I feel a great deal of pressure to socialize with them as their guest. I don’t mind one-on-one interaction with someone, particularly if its having a few beers and a bite to eat at the bar. But with group interaction, that pressure to contribute starts to mount in me.
So, I need these moments where I can get a few weeks of alone-time.
But no amount of alone time can change who I am. Even after the three weeks is up, and Sash returns from Alaska, it doesn’t mean I now have three weeks of emotional support to give to her. I still only have very little to give in that regards. I’m much better giving in other ways, like giving her the freedom to be the woman she wants to be, buying her jewelry, or tickets to a concert, or taking care of our trailer and keeping it working order. I can be the website developer for our business, and the guy who blogs here on Road Pickle, and I can even write all the beef jerky reviews.
These are my strengths, and these are my weaknesses.
I honestly don’t want to address the weaknesses and try to shore them up. I guess there are many reasons. But suffice it to say, I’m done with trying to be something that I’m not, and I’m ready to start championing who I am.