Thursday, March 8, 2012

On Being an Introvert

It's been awhile, I know. I haven't felt like there was much to say. But, here I am for the moment.

In January I read a beautiful book called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. It is a book celebrating the everyday graces of God, a poetically written reminder that there is so much in this world around us to be thankful for. It was a perfect book to read at the beginning of a new year. I am striving to mindfully open my eyes and acknowledge and thank God. This is not easy. Everyday I have to remind myself again and again to search out those God graces.

I've been reading Ann Voskamp's blog ever since reading her book. Some posts I just skim through, but today's post hit home for me--a guest post about the introvert's role in the church. Read it here.

I am an introvert. This is an undisputed fact--one I try to overcome and work with everyday. It is a personality trait that I struggle with. It leads me to compare myself to just about any out-going girl or woman. I feel less than, like I'm missing a piece of what it is to live authentically and fully. I feel like there is something wrong with me that I can't easily engage in small talk, that I shrink into myself in crowds, at parties, and in new places. This trait has followed me around for 30 years. It's dogged my steps in this "new" city that Jeremy and I try to call home. After 3 1/2 years, I still don't feel connected and I know some of it is because of my introverted shy self.

I do know in my head that being an introvert isn't the wrong personality type. I realize that introverts and extroverts both make this world go round. But in our culture and society, being an introvert is not embraced. There is a new book out called Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. I want to read it.

For quite awhile now I haven't really felt like I fit in much. And I particularly don't see how I fit into church. I am lonely there. I meet Jesus there, but there aren't bonds of friendships. The social stuff seems to be all about the couples with children and those pursuing graduate degrees. And there I am. There we are. Feeling more like a square peg in a round hole. I don't know what the answer is exactly because I can't just up and change my personality. But I am so glad I stopped by Ann's blog today and read the post. They were words this introvert needed to hear.


liz nelson said...

i appreciated this post and the post that inspired it. as an introvert myself, i completely understand these feelings and struggles. it's weird how even though there is nothing wrong with (and many things actually right with:) being an introvert, society as a whole kind of makes you feel dumb/less than for being that way. the perceptions that come with being an introvert are very irritating and frustrating.

i haven't read one thousand gifts, but have heard excellent things about it!

i like this list of myths about introverts (it's pretty accurate):

Top ten myths about introverts

Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.

Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.
Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.

Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.
Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting.

Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.
On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.

Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public.
Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for Introverts.

Myth #6 – Introverts always want to be alone.
Introverts are perfectly comfortable with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They daydream. They like to have problems to work on, puzzles to solve. But they can also get incredibly lonely if they don’t have anyone to share their discoveries with. They crave an authentic and sincere connection with ONE PERSON at a time.

Myth #7 – Introverts are weird.
Introverts are often individualists. They don’t follow the crowd. They’d prefer to be valued for their novel ways of living. They think for themselves and because of that, they often challenge the norm. They don’t make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy.

Myth #8 – Introverts are aloof nerds.
Introverts are people who primarily look inward, paying close attention to their thoughts and emotions. It’s not that they are incapable of paying attention to what is going on around them, it’s just that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding to them.

Myth #9 – Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun.
Introverts typically relax at home or in nature, not in busy public places. Introverts are not thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. If there is too much talking and noise going on, they shut down. Their brains are too sensitive to the neurotransmitter called Dopamine. Introverts and Extroverts have different dominant neuro-pathways. Just look it up.

Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.
Introverts cannot “fix themselves” and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race. In fact, one study (Silverman, 1986) showed that the percentage of Introverts increases with IQ.

stephanie said...

Liz, I love this! Thanks for posting here...

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