Wedding Gifts

We’ve been to a lot of weddings lately (my kids are in their 20’s) and I’m beginning to notice something about them. These are occasions where you are very likely to notice things about extraverts and introverts. 

Last weekend we went to the wedding of my son’s best friend. During the reception after the ceremony, I stood and chatted for about 30 minutes with people I knew. Then I went looking for a chair. A few minutes after I sat down, a young woman sitting next to me introduced herself and we started talking. Later, I realized that my time with this stranger was the high point of the evening. She was always smiling, laughing, asking questions or telling stories. It was just the easiest thing in the world to fall into a long conversation with her, and in the back of my mind, I was thinking, “What a great extravert.” 

Her fiancé walked up and she introduced him. He was not at all like her. He was shy and awkward and it was difficult to get into conversation with him. But it wasn’t necessary, because she made conversation flow like a river after a rain. I could see why he would feel at home with her. I was guessing that he’s an I-T and as such, might excel in some high-earning technical field. That’s the thing I like best about type, because sometimes you can see people’s weaknesses and in the same moment, be reminded of their strengths.

Actually, that’s not the thing I like best about type. The thing I like best is how it helped me when my daughter was young. She’s an ISFJ, and when she was little, I worried about her shyness. I remember how anxious I felt at birthday parties when she’d refuse to leave my lap and run around with the other kids, or when I saw her standing quietly on the outside of groups. But the type literature always advised me not to worry or intervene, because introverted children will find their way socially; it will just take longer. I looked over at my daughter at the wedding, greeting people with all the charm and graciousness of a society hostess, and I was glad I’d had that calming advice when she was growing up.   

My ESFJ son was the best man, and after dinner, he gave a speech. He started off saying, “I’m sorry, I thought this was a roast,” and had people laughing or getting misty-eyed from that moment on. He was clearly in his element standing in front of a crowd, and parental pride aside, it’s a treat to see people in their element, at their best, in full bloom… it really is.

The bride and groom came up to say hello to me, and I realized something interesting. I’d only met the bride about a year ago, and since then I’d only seen her about three times, yet I felt like I’d known her forever. The groom, who was my son’s best friend, I’d known for 15 years. He’d played at my home several times a week. I’d watched all his basketball games, been there when his father died, when he and his brother fought over a girl, and when he graduated from high school. I’d even taught him writing for four years and wrote a recommendation for his college applications. I can truly say that I love this young INTJ, but after all that time, it’s surprising how little I feel that I know him.

After about three hours of meeting and greeting, I started to think about home. I always feel a little guilty at big gatherings, because so much work and expense went into giving me a good time, yet I just want it to be over soon. Then, on the way home, I wonder, “What’s wrong with me that I feel so empty?” That brings me to the first reason that I fell in love with type. It explained why. The book that introduced me to type was Please Understand Me, by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates, and I always remember this line about introverts after parties…

He is no party pooper; rather, he was pooped by the party.

For about the thousandth time since I read that line, I forgave myself for not being able to fully enjoy the gathering while it was happening. I also knew that in the next few days, when I was alone, and reflecting on this beautiful event, I would have the time of my life.


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  1. Elizabeth Poole

    #1 by Elizabeth Poole - June 12, 2014 at 12:51 PM

    A beautiful illustration and so true. Thank you for sharing your deepest self through this story.
    Elizabeth INFP
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