One of the places I feel most extroverted is on this blog. I’m able to write all about everything, put deep and tough experiences out there, and express scary and embarrassing emotions and not feel afraid of condemnation. I feel community, love, grace, and so much more. I long to be in community here. My heart craves it.
One little fact you can probably guess about me is that I am extremely introverted. Like 99% of this article was absolutely can-I-get-an-amen true for me. But one thing stood out that made me think [doesn’t that happen to me so much in my posts? heehee].
Giving a talk in front of 500 people is less stressful than having to mingle with those people afterwards.
Ohmygoodnessgracious yes. It isn’t even about not liking those people, or wanting to be friends with those people. I have no problem being up in front of crowds. Before I had my daughter, I was on the worship team for our church for ten years! I’ve sung many-a-solo and have loved it all. But having to talk afterwards…oi. Its not my favorite thing.
Which makes sense for this translates to my blog and my life. I LOVE writing to the few readers I have and being active on social media. Its like the online stage. But when I get in a situation where I am in a crowd of bloggers, people I respect, I shrivel up. Example…
I went to the Influence Conference this past year. It was really one of the most amazing experiences. But I found myself feeling so incredibly shy and nervous around all these women that I had known and loved from afar. I shrank into the carpet. I didn’t say hi to some of the women I had desperately wanted to meet. I even found myself retreating to my room a couple times to choke back tears. I was overwhelmed.
My sweeeeeet friend Carrie helped me to discover something about myself. She may not even know she did it, but she helped me to see that my “social awkwardness” was simply that I am an introvert. Another sweet woman that helped me is Ellen — she may not know either how immensely she impacted me. I was holding back tears and trying to swallow the large knot in my throat as she lovingly talked to me about being an introvert and introduced me to the book Quiet. She was so encouraging as she nodded and mmm-hmm-ed while I spoke of the fear of being in the crowd and impulsive instinct to retreat to my room. She smiled with my confession that being around people often drains me. That I love people immensely but that recharging my spirit requires quiet and solitude. After hugs and tears, these women helped me to discover the gift of introversion. Even Jesus had to retreat from the crowds. And often I hear the Lord the loudest when I am in silence.
One thing that stands out a bit from that trip was the very end. I was sitting on a couch waiting a few hours before I was to take a shuttle to the airport when two gals that I now love [Annie and Amy] came up and started chatting with me. They invited me up to their room because they had some time to kill as well and wanted to know if I wanted to hang out. My introversion kicked in and I declined, saying I wanted to decompress [which was true].
But looking back, even though it was so small, I realize I regret that decision. I wish I would have stepped out of my introverted self and into community. These women were loving me and reaching out, and I denied it. Often, introversion can lead you down a tunnel into dark isolation. Where introversion is a gift, it can also feel like a curse. I have to fight my tendency to withdraw and consciously make the effort to reach out, to love, to connect.
This is so hard for me because right now, being in school keeps me insanely busy and being a mom adds a heap of crazy busy on top of that. That makes it way too easy to isolate and make excuses.
This weekend, my husband and I visited a church here in Phoenix as we are exploring which community God wants us to plant ourselves. And I felt it. The desire to withdraw, to smile and shake hands but not chat. To find the familiar faces and retreat from the unfamiliar ones. But I didn’t. I smiled and chatted. And it felt like home. It drew me in. I wanted to grow roots and do life there. Plant my family in the neighborhood and invite community in. A breath of freshness came into me when I let go and dug in even when I didn’t want to. When I felt scared to.
Friends, introverts just need a little hug and to be included in the conversation. We don’t hate you. ;) We’re not snobs. We like you. Lots! And desperately want to be included but are hesitant to step in. We love deeply but need to love ourselves and respect our own boundaries by giving ourselves space. I hope this encouraged you. And if you are an extreme extrovert, I hope that it gave you a peek into the gentle quietness of the introvert. Now, I’m off for an evening with a cup of tea, a book, and silence. xo