Unapologetic: When your friend is an extrovert

Dave Newlands/The Skyline View

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My friend since Barbie dolls and Love’s Baby Soft is an extrovert. She has always been the type to have a lot of people around her and has the natural ability to “say the right things.” She likes meeting new people, knows everyone, and gets invited to parties.

“Extrovert” has always liked to be the center of attention, whereas I prefer to parlay in the cuts. There are times when we clash. During those times, it is like a war in a jar.

Our church had an event last summer called Vacation Bible School. We both signed up as teachers. Why did “extrovert” announce to the bible school committee that it was a great idea that she and I teach our classes together? I was content to teach solo. Already armed with a lesson plan, I whispered to her that I had already prepared, so maybe next time (how about never). You see, she had already showed me that, by her clamoring to be the center of attention, she really makes a fool of herself. People tend to stare at me like “what’s wrong with your girl?” or “now what are you going to do?”.

Well just my crappy luck, the committee chair agreed. I sat there brooding in my emotions, wishing I could figure out a politically correct way to say that the idea stunk.

The first day of class, “extrovert” is searching online for lessons. I calmly showed her that I had lesson plans and activities. I shared a song I wrote for the children to present in the evening. To make me even more uncomfortable, the children were to present what they learned that evening in front of the entire congregation. The focus should be on the children as much as possible, not on the teachers. Just thinking about it made me want to break out in hives, for real.

I taught the children a song about loving Jesus, sung to a familiar tune. “Extrovert” was impressed with the lyrics and how quickly the children memorized the words. The children were a teensy bit nervous about singing in front of the whole church. To help ease the kids into the performance, “extrovert” would announce them and I had a line or two to add.

Performance time. “Extrovert” announced the children, putting extra emphasis on it. The church erupted in laughter, which was the gasoline for her to grab the spotlight. “Extrovert” was on a roll, being her attention grabbing self to the point where she spoke my lines. I looked on, mortified, even though I was the only one who knew. After she had exhausted herself, “extrovert” then announced I had something to say. I stared blankly. She already said what I prepared to say! The crickets sounded for a hot minute before I could think of a recovery, then guided the children into song.

I was annoyed that, once again, “extrovert” had grabbed the spotlight, spoke my lines, and made me feel real stupid staring out at the congregation. We had been friends for so long that I was used to this behavior but still very uncomfortable with it. I keep asking myself whether opposites really do attract, or do they repel like nothing else. The jury in my head is still out.