Friday, January 8, 2016

Introverts and Extroverts in the Hundred-Acre Wood

The other day, I watched The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh for the first time in at least a decade, possibly two. It was that surreal experience of rewatching a film you haven't seen since you were a young child and still somehow remembering all the words because you watched it so often then, they stuck in your mind for years.

The first two stories are pleasant, but I found the third one absolutely fascinating in terms of my own life and who I've become over the last few years.

It's the story of Tigger, who bounces everywhere and all around people's lives without regard for them, and Rabbit, who is driven absolutely crazy by Tigger's bouncing and will go to any lengths to stop it. And all I could think of as I watched was, "...That's absolutely me and some of the extroverts I've known."

Most of my extrovert friends are kind, gracious people who are beautifully aware of themselves and don't just steamroll over others. But I have known a few who... did not have that self-awareness and happily just bounced themselves into my life, uprooting my garden and destroying my house and insisting that bouncing is what they do best and if I was upset by it, that was my fault, not theirs.

I saw poor Rabbit constantly harassed by Tigger, who, despite Rabbit clearly being uncomfortable with him, continued to push and push, determined that he could get Rabbit to see his way eventually.

And... I'm not sure how I feel about the ending.

For those of you who don't know the story, Rabbit gets completely fed up with Tigger making a mess with bouncing and attempts to lose him in the woods forever (which, sheesh, is kind of dark) only to get lost himself and need to be rescued. A bit later, Tigger bounces himself up a tree and gets stuck because he's afraid of heights, and he rashly promises that he'll never bounce again if only someone will help him get back down. When he does return to the ground, Rabbit holds him to his promise and Tigger, crestfallen, walks off, and then Pooh and all of his friends lament how sad Tigger is and how they "like the old bouncy Tigger best," and then Rabbit says he guesses he does too (though I am not entirely convinced he meant it -- he was pretty clearly being guilted into saying it), and then everyone is happy and they all bounce together.

That's not really the answer I was looking for as an introvert. Because while I don't think Rabbit should keep Tigger from bouncing forever, the fact is, Tigger is still going to make a mess of Rabbit's life with his bouncing, and that's never really addressed. The actual answer would be for Rabbit to say, "Here, bounce as much as you like, but don't bounce me," and Tigger would say, "Sure thing," and then everyone would really be happy.

As an introvert, the last thing I want to be told is that if I just lighten up and realize that the extrovert really is the fun one, I'll be happy. Because I may be having a perfectly good time by myself, and for an extrovert to come along and disrupt that for their own enjoyment shouldn't be something that's OK.

This definitely didn't hit me the last time I saw this movie -- but the last time I saw it, I didn't know I was an introvert, let alone that it was OK to be one. It does a pretty good job of setting up the story as if both the introvert and the extrovert would see the error of their ways and change to help the other... but in the end, only the introvert actually does. The extrovert doesn't have to change a thing. That doesn't seem quite fair to me, and it's a little disappointing for a story I loved so much as a kid.

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