Being an Introvert in an Extrovert Family

I have a big extended family and we extend from coast to coast, north to south. Weddings and funerals are about the only thing that bring us together anymore. There once were big family Christmases at Grandma’s house or all being together for the little home town festival. Today we have multiplied from 27 to two times that. Even when time and space separate us, we come together just as if nothing has passed between the present and the past.


We spent the long weekend at Lake Norman State Park and celebrated my cousin’s nuptials. Three full days of happiness. Days spent reconnecting, learning about what is important in the lives of my people. It’s overwhelming for me. I do okay working a room and meeting people. Large groups aren’t really my thing. I feel small in them and it makes me act small, because I’d like to disappear. When I’m in these types of situations, I make a point of not running away. I work on getting one-on-one or in a small group.

In an effort to keep it small, I got a couple of hikes in with a few others. If you know me, my sense of direction is flawed. The first hike, I went out with people who knew what they were doing and where they were going. They probably had looked at a map. I found a second group who was willing to follow me. Until we had made our first wrong turn, they had no idea they were following a woman with a broken inner compass. Luckily, we found ourselves on a dead end, which made clear my mistake, but what we found was awesome.

Hanging from a tree branch was a 30 foot rope that was meant for swinging over a lush gully. I’m not brave or athletic or someone who swings from a random rope in a tree, but I was with someone who just happened to have a GoPro on him (i.e. crazy brave, athletic, and loves a challenge.) It took about ten seconds for the three of us to agree that this rope needed to be tested and Mr. GoPro was happy to be the guinea pig. Let’s be clear, at that point he was the only one going. As I watched him swing through the air letting out a howl of delight, I forgot who I was and remembered that I could do scary things. We all went. Thankfully there is no evidence except personal accounts, but I’m pretty sure I screamed like it might be my final utterance.

Letting go. Moving out of the comfort zone. Going out on a literal limb. Remembering that I can do scary things. Knowing that failure isn’t the end of the world. Recognizing that failure is sometimes just the beginning. I was reminded of all of these things on my hikes.

As I sit at home with a full heart, I’m grateful for those that honor my introversion. For everybody who saw me hanging in the hammock and just let me be. To each of you who went one on one with me, when your thing is having a large audience, thank you. It made for a great weekend.

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4 thoughts on “Being an Introvert in an Extrovert Family

  1. Thank you for this. I’m part of a large extended family, and we have a ton of extroverts, myself being one. I know you’re shocked by that, right? 🙂 This post helps me to see things from the introvert’s perspective, and I want to keep that in mind during large family events. Thank you. So glad you enjoyed those hikes. It looks like it was a magical trip.

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