I think I first realized I was an introvert when I was a child. Every time my extended family came to our house, rather than rush downstairs to say hi, I lingered upstairs until I was called down. We didn’t see them more than once or twice a year, so I never felt like I got to know them. I remember thinking, If I can’t know them well, what’s the point in trying to make a relationship work?

During my grade school years, I didn’t go over to friends’ houses very much. I didn’t like being in foreign environments. The one time I did try an overnight, my mother had to come and pick me up. In my adult years, I’ve become the kind of person who, if an encounter cannot be avoided, would try to keep it short and superficial. Keep it light, move on, and let me get back to my thoughts.

But since my brother’s death of cancer at the age of 47, I’ve become more extroverted than I’ve ever been. I’ve seen the importance of relationships. Things don’t matter—people matter. If we don’t spend time with people now, tomorrow’s no guarantee. At the same time, given the choice between going out to dinner with friends and hanging out at home with my wife and kids, I’ll take home every time. Over the course of my life, it’s become clear that my makeup might best be summed up as, “once an introvert, always an introvert.” It’s part of who I am. Take it or leave it.