I love personality tests – Myers-Briggs, DiSC, Predictive Index. I’ve taken them all, several times, and the conclusions are surprisingly consistent and, if I’m honest about how I really think and act, accurate. So those of you who’ve known me for a long time will not be surprised to hear that these test all identify me as a strong introvert.
However, those who know me solely, or mostly, through work may be surprised that I’m labeled an introvert. In my professional life, I am (as a professor once explained) “an introvert who has learned to adapt.” Being in sales and other customer-facing roles, I’ve learned to dig deep into my persona to be outgoing and curious about others. Having an abnormally high level of empathy helps with this adaptation. (I’m talking about the kind of empathy where you cry just because you see someone else crying, even when you have no idea why they’re crying.)
Bill is also an introvert, but not the kind who “adapts” and acts like an extrovert when the circumstances would call for it. No, he’s almost always reserved, to the point that I’m afraid he puts other people off with the scowl he carries on his face when we’re in public. Our very good friend, Jon, tells a great story of how the first time Bill walked across the street to talk to him, Jon saw the look on his face and heard the tone of his greeting (a simple, but harsh “Hey!”) and thought Bill was coming over to start a fight!
With all that being said, I assumed the task of making friends here on our rock would fall to me and my “adapted extrovert” self. But there seems to have been a reversal of roles over the past six weeks. Bill has become the one who’s curious about other people – what they do, where they’re from, how long they’ve been here – and I’ve mostly reverted back into my shell, watching and listening from the sidelines. Thanks to Bill’s newfound willingness to strike up a conversation with just about anyone, we’ve met:
- a temporarily homeless boat hand from the Netherlands
- two (yes, two) George Clooney look-alikes!
- several Rastafarians who show up at the same spot, at the same time, every day
- a ton of boat captains
- a guy in the financial sector (I expected to meet more of these, as finance is the second largest component of the BVI economy. But I guess the places we’re hanging out are too low-brow for the finance crowd.)
- three very loud and very opinionated middle-aged women (mental note: sit at the other end of the bar when they’re around)
- a doctor who works at the local hospital (a very good contact to have)
- and more bartenders than I can recall
Maybe he’s just trying to gage what we might be like in 1, 3, 5, or 10 years. Or maybe the confines of a 13 x 3 mile island are getting to him. Whatever is driving this newfound extrovertedness, it’s kind of nice to let someone else do the social navigating for a change. Next up, I’m putting him on the hunt for a certain country star who lives nearby. Stay tuned…
Danielle – I’m so glad you are writing your thoughts like this. the dramatist in me can easily imagine a screenplay slowly forming here. – Ben
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