Saturday, July 25, 2015

musings of a wallflower

I am a type B married to a type A. I am an introvert married to an extrovert. I am a wallflower married to a social butterfly. So I guess it’s true what they say, about opposites attracting. Kevin and I celebrated 6 years of marriage last weekend. 6 years of waking up next to my type A husband. 6 years of walking into social events with my extrovert partner. 6 whole years of parties and weddings and work functions and after dinner drinks with that social butterfly man. It’s been like a 6 year course in “how to be amazing and make friends.” And this introvert is still taking notes and failing tests.

To be honest, this has been a touchy subject for me in the past. And to be even more honest, in my weaker moments it still is. Anyone reading this who is part of a couple will understand how difficult it is to make ‘couple friends.’ Sure, the ladies have their friends, and the men have their own friends, but ‘couple friends’? Those can be pretty darn hard to come by. And ‘couple friends’ don’t have to be a couple themselves. No, sir. They just have to be a person who is friends with both members of the respective couple in their own right. Kevin and I have some great couple friends. Some are other couples, but some are just people whom one of us (usually Kevin) met, and has become a friend to both of us individually. 

Kevin, aka extrovert, type A, social butterfly that he is, is great at meeting new people and making friends. He’s literally become friends with the guy making us coffee. He’s made friends with the man who owns our local fish n chips shop. He is friends with a guy we bought a taco from one night year ago, and they still talk on Facebook all the time. Friends everywhere!! In these situations, I’m usually standing speechless as I watch two complete strangers become friends. It’s like he has a magical potion that I’m watching him use to entrance people. But the magic potion is just him! It’s him and his smile and his kind words and just who he is as a person. It’s incredible.

Now here’s where my insecurity comes in. Over the past 6 years as I’ve watched this happen time and time again, I have been left to wonder, why don’t I have that magic potion? Why does the idea of having a conversation with a stranger absolutely terrify me? Why am I not friends with the taco truck guy? I believed the lie that my personality and who I am is less than who my husband is. His type A trumps my type B. His extrovert outdoes my introvert. His social butterfly makes a dozen friends while my sad little wallflower sits pitifully in the corner. Alone. Because it’s an introvert.

About a year and a half ago, a lot of these feelings came to a head. I looked around and saw all of our couple friends, great friends, who have never been anything but lovely and awesome. But I believed the little lie whispered in my ear that told me these people were only friends with me because of Kevin. I saw myself as the pathetic add-on they got as a half friend, because Kevin and I are a package deal. And if they wanted to be friends with him, they’d have to take me too. I saw myself as that slimy dill pickle you get when you order a club sandwich. You don’t really want the pickle; it just comes with the meal. It sits there on the plate, not doing too much.

That is a bad comparison for someone who loves the slimy pickle that comes on the side of a club sandwich plate. But it wasn’t until I was honest with some people in my life about these thoughts that I was able to see them for what they really are: ugly, boldfaced lies. I’m not the gross pickle on the side of that plate! (or maybe I am? If you’re the kind of person who loves dill pickles from diners. Bad analogy.) It was a slow realization, and didn’t take place all at once. But slowly, and intentionally I began to take off the old identity I had as the ‘add-on’ friend. I saw the relationships I had with our couple friends flourish, even without Kevin’s help.

And the best thing was, these realizations do not discount how awesome my husband is. It made me understand that his incredible personality doesn’t weaken my own. Just because one part of the equation is amazing doesn’t make the other part lame. Are we different? Absolutely. More than you might think 2 married people could possibly be. But we each have strengths. We each have our magic potion. Yes, Kevin is friends with the taco truck guy. But I maintain friendships with people half a world away only by means of email. Kevin is friends with a stranger who made him coffee. But I can meet a friend for coffee and invest in a growing relationship. Kevin is better at the meet and greet, and I am better at the digging deep. We both have a lot we can learn from the other, which is what makes these two opposites attract.

It’s also a saying that you become like the person you are married to. And I have seen little bits of Kevin’s type A rub off on my type B. 6 years later, I am slowly (painfully so) getting better at small talk. I will go out of my way to say hello to an acquaintance. I’ve also been better at introducing myself to people in social gatherings. So no, I probably won’t become Facebook friends with the next taco truck vendor I meet, but I'm learning to embrace my own strengths. We can thrive in who we are, and who we were created to be, while still learning and growing from those around us. And the whisper who says one type of personality is better than another type, that whisper is a liar. 

[And shout out to our couple friends! Thank you for being friends with me and Kevin, not me because of Kevin.]

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