I'm an introvert, but I'm not anti-social. I enjoy good conversation and storytelling (but loathe small talk). That social butterfly reputation is what creates confusion for most people. A lot of people associate the term introvert with “shy” or even “socially awkward.” But, as with everything, there is a sliding scale. Introversion has only one real attribute: being around others is an energy drain. All that means for the introverted social butterfly is that it's important to book lots of quality alone time in order to recharge.
My now husband on the other hand is an extrovert. After being around a large group of people his energy level is through the roof and he's full of ideas and ready to take on the world RIGHT NOW. I will also feel that way after an event, but three days later — after I have had some “me time.”
When my partner suggested we do a full “so you think you can dance” stylized wedding tango as our first dance, I was thrilled. I've always loved the idea of learning how to tango. It's a bold choice. It's a feminist choice. The tango is the only ballroom dance where the man is not in charge. It's more like a battle of wills. The “lead” may suggest a direction or move but the “follower” is at all times free to refuse and redirect. We laughed a lot. It's playful. It's more representative of an equal footing in a relationship.
With five months to go before the wedding, we knew we would need private lessons and, more than that, we'd need someone to help us choreograph. We found a teacher who was willing to take on two novices and transform us into the performers we wanted to be in a ridiculously short time. What followed were weeks upon weeks of intense Saturday classes. Hours of practicing in our living room with the furniture pushed away to the side. Our wedding was going to be in our home, so it was a bonus to practice in the space we'd actually perform in!
I discovered I was actually quite good at tango and I found myself frustrated at my fiancé for not picking up the moves and choreography quickly enough. Days before the wedding he was still having moments of doubt creating these unpleasant hesitations in the dance. We settled on my giving him some small verbal cues if needed. We enjoyed it so much… but I admit I was worried.
On the day of the wedding, as I changed out of my wedding skirt into a tango skirt for mobility, I started to get anxious. I heard the shift in the music we had agreed would be our queue (this tango was a surprise to our guests). I hesitated. Suddenly painfully doubtful of my ability to pull any of it off. My introverted self just wanted to stay in my room and flee the audience. I pulled myself together and stepped out onto our living room floor.
Our song came on. And across from me, my now husband was… flawless. Perfect posture. Perfect recall. Perfect. He had the audience he needed as an extrovert to fully “bloom” into the tango dancer I knew he could be. Me? My legs were shaking so hard that, to this day I have NO idea how I didn't collapse. If it had not been for muscle memory I don't know that I would have remembered the choreography. When one of the moves came, a sudden drop and twirl low to the ground with a leg elegantly stretched out to the side before coming back up, I felt total panic inside. Knowing that my legs would never hold my weight. My beautiful man just winked, and as it was time to come back up, changed — the move to scoop me up from under the armpit in the most sexy way. Using a close embrace posture moving us along into the next step flawlessly without missing a beat. He whispered “I got you” in my ear. I could have cried from relief.
The sudden silence hung in the air like a fart in the elevator.
With only a minute left in our wedding tango, my worst fear became reality. We lost the music. The sudden silence hung in the air like a fart in the elevator. Our family and friends who had been holding their breath gasped and shouted “OH noooooooo!”
My extroverted husband did a twirl and shouted “I guess we start over!” and with that went to restart the song on our sound system. I died inside. AGAIN? We were nearly finished, couldn't I go now? But no. From across the room there he was in his full tango glory; his eyes sparkling with joy and playfulness reminding me of my own saying tattooed on my ribcage: “Feel the fear, do it anyway.”
And so we did. We started over.
Our second time was so smooth. We executed some of the moves so perfectly that I even dared to feel pride in both of us. We were pulling it off! My legs still didn't fully cooperate but no one noticed. I hid my introverted “side effect” well. I always have. Eight years of community theatre had given me lots of practice. And my opposite, my gorgeous, strong, extroverted partner was there. My rock. Literally shoring me up. We finished and our guests exploded. But I was elated, thrilled, and completely drained. My husband moved on to chat with our guests, twirling me and kissing me every chance he got. HE had caught a second wind.
It wasn't until we were on our mini-moon road trip that it hit me. That the story of our wedding tango was absolutely the best example I had ever come across of how a social extrovert and a social introvert can prop each other up as life partners. Yes we are both in love with being “different.” Yes, we are both a little fearless. Yes we are both “social butterflies.” But we wouldn't actually ACT on any of it if we didn't have each other. I had pushed him relentlessly during the practice sessions. He had held me up and given me some of his confidence to lean on that night. Reminding me to have faith in myself. We tap into each other for that which is lacking in ourselves. Freely giving of that energy. Freely taking. No words needed. Partnership. Support. Synchronicity. Marriage.
“I got you.”