Lately I’ve been reading a lot of about introversion and extroversion. There’s no question that I’m an introvert, and I’ve learned to understand a lot of things about myself the more I’ve read about the subject. One thing that is strongly related to (but not necessarily a part of) introversion is something which is called high reactivity (extroverts on the other hand are often low reactive). It may sound a bit counter-intuitive, but the explanation is that high reactive people react very strongly to some stimuli, for example something they perceive as dangerous. This in turn means that when they are in a situation where a perceived risk exists, they are very careful in dealing with this risk. Low reactive people go on as if nothing happened. I’ve always thought that I’m careful to the point of being a coward (I’ve told a lot of such stories here in this blog) but now I know that it’s not really cowardice, it’s just a natural reaction I have in certain situations. For example when I’m hiking, I’m very likely to make a long detour to avoid an area which I perceive as difficult, or if I do go across this area, I do it very carefully. If I have some company with me, it’s more than likely that I’m the last person to finish all the ”difficult” passages.

So that’s the back story. Now I’ll tell you what happened to me today.

I went down to Mon this morning in order to search for some flowers. Since I knew that there would be mosquitoes a-plenty, I wore a button down shirt over my t-shirt to cover my arms. It was very warm so I kept the button down shirt open to allow some air to come through. It was quite nice actually, I even saw a moose (which seems to happen a lot in Mon). And then I found this butterfly perching in the grass, it totally ignored me so I got down close to it. And while I was shooting, I suddenly felt something pinch me at the back of my left shoulder. I thought it was the backpack strap so I adjusted it, but the pinching continued. And then I heard a buzzing sound… I had some creature with wings trapped inside the shirt, and that creature had a sting. I didn’t want to take off the shirt because I was worried that the stinger would be agitated and go for some more sensitive skin like the neck or face, so instead I reached out with my right hand and tried to squeeze that thing to death. I didn’t feel the insect but when the buzzing stopped, I figured I had it.

The butterfly just before I got stung (not by the butterfly, obviously)

But by now I was full of adrenaline. The thing is, I have never been stung by a bee but since I have some allergies, it wasn’t impossible that I would have a reaction to bee stings. My heart was racing like crazy, my whole body was shaking… I had no idea if it was a reaction to the sting, or just the massive adrenaline rush. But one thing was for sure – I couldn’t stay there and wait if I would get an allergic shock so I had to leave. After an initial disorientation I found back to the bike and finally took off the shirt and threw it on the ground… and found a very live bumble bee crawl out. I knew that bumble bees aren’t as dangerous as wasps, but my shoulder was still hurting so they clearly weren’t completely harmless either. I got on the bike on shaky legs and pedalled home, and took an antihistamine pill just in case. But no harm done in the end, I just have two red spots around the shoulder where the bee stung me.

Serendipity. I found it like that.

So you now understand what I meant with me being high reactive? With hindsight, it wasn’t a dangerous situation. But when it happened, I reacted as if it was the worst case scenario – that it was a wasp and that I was allergic to stings. And I minimised the perceived risk by going home.

High reactive, low risk. That’s what has kept me alive and without injury all these years. I think that it’s a smart character trait for someone who’s always out alone!

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