Confessions of an Introvert
Those of you who know me, have heard me mention that I am an introvert. And those who are close to me, know I am an extreme introvert.
It’s not that I don’t love people, I do. I am just not naturally a social butterfly. I never have been. I’ve always been very reflective, quiet, to myself. I prefer a night of writing or reading at home by myself to going out to a party or with a group of people any day.
Socializing for me is healthy in small doses, but too much of it actually becomes quiet draining and stressful for me. And as a result I used to feel super guilty about not wanting to go to social events and wondered what was wrong with me. Why was I okay in high school one on one with a friend but as soon as they invited tons of people over, I started to feel like I was suffocating and wanted to get out as soon as possible? I used to wonder this all the time. Why did I always feel like the one on the outside, not quite able to get in to the conversation fully, or enjoy myself completely?
Because of this, I felt weird most of my life.
Let’s face it, we live in a world that praises the extrovert. The louder, more engaging, more hysterical and social you are, the better off you are in life. The more liked you are. The more people admire or care for you. I didn’t know if I could find my place in life, because being an extrovert was as challenging to me as a lion trying to wakeboard. It just goes against every instinct I was created with!
All that changed last year when I did a few sessions with a Christian counselor. One of her first steps is to have her clients take the Myers-Briggs Personality Test. It helps her know how to communicate with her clients effectively; because different personality types respond very differently, learn differently, and are inspired in different ways. For those of you who know the test, I scored as an INFJ.
It works in a scale system and on the extroverted/introverted scale I scored 1 point for extroverted and 100% on the introvert side of the scale. That’s a hugely unbalanced score! I couldn’t be more introverted according to this test if I tried.
As soon as I got the results and she walked me through what that meant, I started to feel really bad again, like something was wrong with me. But then we got to talking.
And I really started to realize what a gift being an introvert was.
Us introverts are reflective, observant, creative, great listeners, we are compassionate, loyal and some of the greatest artists, leaders and inventors of all time. We are in really good company!
I can really put on the front and socialize well. I can fake extroverted really well if I put my mind to it, but the amount of work it takes for me, truly, leaves me exhausted and sometimes sick. It stresses me.
I remember one time in particular this past year where Justin and I were going to an event a friend was putting on. There were probably 20-30 people there and more began to come as the night went on. It started off quiet with just a few of us and then grew to a huge, loud conversation. You know the kind. Lots of people stand in a big circle, talking loud over each other and each person who speaks has to make everyone laugh or be engaging and super loud to overpower all the other people’s noise. I slowly felt myself get lost in the crowd and shrink back. I couldn’t compete with these loud voices and flashy personalities. Sit me down one on one or in a small circle and I can hold my own, but I started to really feel like I was going to pass out. Heck, I can get on a stage in front of hundreds of people to speak or sing, but a group of people makes me sweat. I needed just a second to breath, to not have to fake smile solid for an hour-since I couldn’t really hear what anyone was saying anyways over the noise. I needed to have quiet and time to collect my thoughts and process. So I politely leaned over to my husband and excused myself to the bathroom. I didn’t need to go. I just needed peace and quiet for even 60 seconds. I locked myself in a stall and just stood there with my eyes closed and breathed. My ears were ringing in the silence, but it was the sweetest music I had heard all night. I collected my thoughts, wrote a few notes on my phone (I am always processing life through writing in some way), and walked myself back out to the group.
Did I have fun that night? Yeah, I did actually, believe it or not. I eventually found a small group to talk with and a place to sit that was much quieter and easier to carry on a conversation at. But I tell this all to you to share with you the level that my introverted tendency goes.
And to share with you how amazing the gift of being introverted is. Yes, it comes with many challenges, especially in our culture. But it also brings so much joy and purpose. We are able to sit down and really connect with people. We contribute to society in powerful ways through art, writing, music and creativity. We don’t need to be entertained all the time. Once I realized that there was nothing wrong with me and that me being an introvert was actually a blessing, I began to love that piece about myself. Now, it is one of my favorite qualities about who God made me to be. It is who I am.
No, I may never be the one captivating everyone with my animated personality and loud laughter. I may never be the one who demands attention as they enter the room or be the most memorable at a party. But I am me. And that is more than enough. I know that now.
Introverts have an advantage in life. A deeper inner life and a wisdom that I believe can make a huge difference in the world.
If you, like me, believe that you are less because you are an introvert, don’t believe it for a second. I would argue that introverted are the coolest kind of people, but I may be a little biased. 😉 God made you just the way you are for a purpose. Focus on those strengths and don’t worry about the pieces that don’t come naturally. There not part of who you are for a reason.
I stopped fighting to be heard in a noisy world and found peace with the wisdom that comes in the quiet stillness.
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