I no longer try to hide it, I admit it. I am an introvert. As I have said in many other posts, I DO like people. However, the larger the group the more recharge time I need.
I have hosted Thanksgiving for my wife’s family for over 25 years. They now hail from 5 states, and when they visit it is for a multi-day stay. Over time the group has grown and now some stay in hotels, but we still provide meals and a central meeting place for all.
Our menus have routinized over the years, as has our preparation procedures. No one needs a menu to know what will be served on Thanksgiving day or the Friday and Saturday afterward. Preparing for Thanksgiving is still a task, but nothing like it was in the early days.
Typically by Saturday afternoon the entire group will vacate, and my family will regroup with quiet activities accompanied by the comfort of Thanksgiving leftovers.
This Saturday also included my 50th grade school reunion. The singular grade school student who I have kept up with is my lifelong friend, John. John spends much of the year living in the sunny state of Florida, but I knew that he would be back in the greater Chicagoland area for the holidays. Unfortunately, John would not budge on going to the reunion. He was not interested, and no effort on my part would convince him.
It is always good to have a wingman for such events. A person to push forward when you want to throttle back. I was grateful that my wife was willing to accompany me. Without her participation, I would have likely stayed home.
The event was pleasant but strained my introverted personality. I am not sure what my goal was in attending, but I know what it wasn’t. I definitely was not there to come back as the “successful doctor.” I had not seen these people since the 20th reunion over 30 years ago, and I wanted to know what happened to the folks who I had spent 8 formative years with. I was surprised that a lot of the attendees not only remembered that I had become a doctor but even knew some of my recent activities. I felt a bit embarrassed by it, but their comments were genuine. That felt good.
My classmates were nice, welcoming, warm. When we got up and did a group share we mostly talked about our kids and grandkids, rather than our careers. We had moved past peacocking our accomplishments.
It was after midnight by the time I fell asleep. My friend Tom was already on my early Sunday morning schedule. Tom is one of the very few people who does not drain me. In fact, he tends to have the opposite effect. So, at 3:50 AM with less than 4 hours of sleep I was up and dressed. I arrived at Tom’s house at 5 AM with Dunkin Donuts coffee in hand. We talked, did some work on his blog, talked some more, looked at guitars on a resale website, he made breakfast for us…. and so the morning went.
I was on time for the 11:15 church service at Community Christian. The topic was on being an authentic friend, how appropriate! It was a good sermon, but I found myself nodding off. I thought this indiscretion was completely undercover, but Julie mentioned it as soon as we left the building.
After a nap, I managed to clean the house, pack up the leftover turkey, and do other mundane chores. This was a busy weekend for me, with more busy weekends to follow.
I would hardly call myself a social butterfly, but most of my weekends into early January are booked. Many of them with multiple activities. Normally, I would have mixed feelings about this, as I use my weekends to recharge from the work week. However, in less than 3 weeks I will leave private practice and this will open up two weekdays on my schedule. I am facing the holidays with new vigor because of this.
With that said, I am still cautious with my time. I want to enjoy the upcoming events and not turn them into holiday obligations (holigations?).
This week marks more goodbyes to my patients. I can’t say that it is getting any easier. However, I feel that my Higher Power is giving me a subtle message that it will be OK. Despite my shyness, there are people who seem to like me and want to connect with me. I am so grateful that they are willing to reach out to me in various ways, as I seem to lack that ability. My wife’s family, old classmates, my dear friend Tom, my lifelong chum John. Yesterday my friend and former business partner Ralph reminded me that he still wants to get together with me after I leave Genesis.
Dear reader, I continue to move forward one foot in front of the other. The future is misty, but there does seem to be a dim light at the end of the tunnel. Every week it becomes just a bit brighter. My Higher Power seems to be telling me, “Hey Mike, I have stood by you all of this time. What would make you think that I’m going to abandon you now?”
Marching forward I face my future. I’ll get by with a little help from my friends.