CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- My daughter describes herself as being a study in contradictions. She is quiet, yet gabby. She hates having "Happy Birthday" sung to her because she's uncomfortable being the center of attention, yet without a moment's hesitation, she'll wear a chicken hat or drop and do The Worm in the middle of the mall. She will agree passionately with one side of an argument, then just as wildly support the opposite cause.
Celeste loves crowds but doesn't like lots of people. Craves hubbub but needs quiet. Wants someone around, but celebrates when they leave.
In other words, she's just like her mom.
And I'm a good deal like mine.
I've been told that I'm the friendliest introvert, while my Mom has been called the quietest extrovert. And Celeste? She has people confused all over the Kanawha Valley.
I've never understood how or why we're spread over the map the way we are, nor can I predict which mood will prevail at any given time. I imagine being friends with someone like us has to be a challenge because it's never certain which version you'll get. We can be chatty and jovial, able to get conversation going among a group of complete strangers, or we can be wearing our unapproachable cloak, with a vibe that keeps people away. Sometimes so intensely they do the sign of the cross.
When we go to a party or to someone's house, we generally seek out their pets, as we've all admitted we feel more at ease with them than the humans.
And pretty much the only time any of us said, "The more, the merrier," the "more" we were talking about involved animals.
It's strange to be in constant conflict with yourself. I can teach classes on writing or participate in public panel discussions without much difficulty, but if I'm asked to speak in the "entertain us" sort of way, I completely fall apart.
It's a frustrating way to be, and I often fight against my inclinations. It stung when I was once called a "pencil friend" because of my tendency to cancel plans so often that dates with me were never written in pen. After hearing that, I've made an effort to never cancel again. Still, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I sometimes celebrate when someone else backs out and I get to stay in.
I'm a lot like a cat standing at the door, looking longingly out at the world. I want that door to open, but the instant it does, I want nothing more than to turn around and go back inside.
I suspected I leaned more toward introvert than extrovert, but the occasional appearances of an outgoing nature made me curious about where I'd land, so I took an online test at www.danpink.com/assessment. I was surprised by the results.
Turns out I'm neither one nor the other.