An Introvert in an Extrovert Family

The central subject for one to understand in Stoicism is oneself, and I think I know myself very well; yet knowing my lover and her family has, unexpectedly, provided insight on myself that I never truly grasped when I was solitary. As I am drawn towards a more philosophic life (ie stoicism), I find that it both illuminates, and is illuminated by, my daily life; particularly, my relationship with my lover and her family. In three years of matrimony, our greatest struggles have been in regards to how I treat her family, especially her parents (who are currently guests in our house for several months).

I am an introvert. I enjoy friends, and had numerous as a bachelor; yet it was never a necessary or consuming part of my life. I have sometimes considered myself a recluse, but such an extreme definition is, perhaps, too extreme; so let me be content with reclusive. Now that I and my lover are married, and have two children, I am quite content with them as the limit of my social life. Sure, I try to be friendly with those at work, and social as expected of my rank and position, yet I have secluded myself (and am content) to the social limits of the nuclear family.

My wife is an extrovert. Her entire family (parents, six [living] siblings, 19 nieces/nephews, etc…) is extroverted. From a distance, it was generally easy for me to interact with them (minus the discussions resulting from cultural and linguistic differences); however, I now, and for the previous three months, find our home filled with my lover’s parents. This is amicably tolerable at best, and on the precipice of separation at the worst moments.

Why? Because I find myself instinctively more passive-aggressive and malcontent; like a caged beast lashing out at a bewildered audience. The lion’s share, perhaps all, of the blame is mine. I am neither accustomed nor happy with such enduring invasion of privacy and convivience, which, through my in-law’s gracious and servicial behavior, has shown me how not only an introvert can feel when necessarily in the world of many extroverts but also how different people can, talking about the same actions and virtues, come to polar opposite judgements and definitions of said actions and virtues.

Recognizing the perilous and unpleasant situation this is for everyone, my meditations have driven myself to those of Marcus Aurelius; and his Meditations have illuminated my recent past and show a very stoic (and it seems successful so far) way for an introvert to live in a world with extroverts.

May you understand yourself and those around you,

May you seek virtue, harmony and well-being for all,

May your actions be guided by calm reason and love,

Always adapting to circumstances, always true to virtue.

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