Saturday, October 20, 2012

Introverts. Extroverts. And Getting Along.

Yesterday I received an amazing gift. Wow.

What was it, you ask? This:  Permission to be a happy, contented introvert.

See, for eons, various (pushy) extroverts told me being an introvert was bad. Unbiblical. Selfish. Basically, they insinuated introverted people needed to convert and become outgoing, vocal, crowd-lovers.

Always the rebel, I'd usually push back and try to ignore those who attempted to control me. Yet even so, I learned to just live with this vague sense that, as an introvert, I was less than those wild and crazy extroverts.

But oh my. Yesterday online I discovered that close to half of us on this planet are natural introverts, close to half are extroverts and the rest are ambiverts, people who are basically half of each.

Each group has different strengths and weaknesses. Each group has value.

Now, I'm not talking about shyness--that's often related to fear and I would never recommend living a fear-based lifestyle(!)

No, I'm saying I'm a classic introvert. Crowds make me nervous, and I need lots of time alone to recharge after I've been in them. (This also explains why I nearly hyperventilate when people suggest I look for a job at public places like Target or Tim Horton's.)

When I'm away from home too long, I get antsy to return to my familiar surroundings. I love to be outside alone. I love to be inside alone and I actually love sitting in a movie theater or a coffee shop alone. I basically enjoy my own company, especially since back in 1994, Jesus became a very real part of  'my own company.' 

Small-talk bores me and I prefer one-on-one conversations because they tend to be more real.  Conversations which go deep, rather than skim the surface, thrill my heart. And on and on. 

Fortunately, Tom is also an introvert and I feel we are fortunate that way. (Could some couples' problems be related to his being an introvert and her being an extrovert--or vice-versa? I wonder.) With what I read yesterday, I now understand why Tom and I aren't into long vacations, parties, concerts, mall shopping, busy restaurants--anything which involves traveling for long periods of time or being in large crowds.

Think you may be an introvert, also? Check out these articles--I found them fascinating, freeing and they helped me understand why I still prefer time alone, even after being set free from (most of) my previous shyness:

All About Introverts
13 Rules For Being Alone and Being Happy About It
Top Ten Myths About Introverts

And well, I'll tell ya..... Since God knows what He's doing and since He's a huge fan of balance, it's not hard to imagine why around half of us are introverts and the other half are extroverts. God's got a purpose, a reason for everything He does--if only we could understand that!  And if only we would stop trying to turn other people into clones of ourselves, maybe we'd all just calm down in a peaceful air of acceptance and be happy.


Anyway, for the rest of my life I will hold my introverted head up high and never again feel bad about needing zillions of hours alone. You won't hear me apologizing for being an introvert ever again--that would be like telling God He didn't know what He was doing when He thought-up this extrovert/introvert thing to begin with.


"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves."  ... Philippians 2:3

"Love one another."  ... John 13:24



Mary said...

Isn't it freeing, Debra? I felt the exact same way after reading the book I mentioned. To know I don't have to try to be "fake gregarious" at parties anymore because that is just not who I am. Reading about all the accomplishments of fellow introverts also helped. I now also know why I feel more relaxed, closer to God, while puttering in my garden rather than in a church full of people.

Debra said...

Mary--exactly! (All that you said.) :) And I really do thank you for setting me upon this path of learning that being an introvert is wired into me and it's ok (!) Yay! I really do appreciate it. Really. Blessings, Debra

Dolores said...

Well Debra, you gotta know that I loved this post! What a great thing you've done for your introverted readers! I can be me and not feel bad. I am married to an extrovert and my daughter is an extrovert so I get all kinds of pressure. But now they can say what they like and I'll just go on my merry introverted way. Thank you Debra!

Debra said...

Aw, Dolores.... You're welcome! And thank-you for making my day. I know just how you feel and I enjoyed the chatter with you yesterday about all this at Facebook. But then, I *always* enjoy chattering with you there! :) Blessings, Debra

Elizabeth said...

How wonderful! I am going to read these.... It is good to know that there is a reason I need my alone time so much!

Bonnie said...

I wonder if any extroverts read your blog? Have you ever read the book The Highly Sensitive Person? (HSP) My daughter and I are HSP' husband to some degree as well. As my mother always said, "It takes all kinds of people to make the world go 'round." I wonder why as a culture people who are gregarious are considered optimal? I've never understood that. I actually had a friend call me a party-pooper once. Ouch. While I can and do navigate large social and family gatherings, my battery is drained and then I need to recharge. I see sixty students each day which also is a joy but needs to be balanced by a quiet evening. Good post, Debra. : )

Debra said...

Elizabeth--let me know what you think of those when you're finished, ok? :)

Bonnie- yesterday it came to me that probably most people who read my blog are introverts, for ha! Extroverts would probably be bored by all my staying-close-to-home stories. heh. But actually, I hope both groups would find something here which would encourage them in daily life. That's my goal, after all.

Thanks for commenting! Blessings, Debra

Anonymous said...

How can being an introvert be wrong? God made you unique and an introvert. You are how He made you. You were wonderfully made by your father and how anyone could think something was wrong is beyond me. I am sorry people have made you ever feel that way. I had an Uncle who was also an introvert. Nicest man you could ever find. Late in life he remarried a women who was the opposite! She could not understand him wanting to be alone and such. She thought for a couple years that if she pushed him he would get used to being at parties and out all the time. It didn't work. When she realized the man she loved was happy as he was she stopped and they lived happily together from then on. I love people but only one or two at a time to be around. I need my down alone time. I would rather listen then talk up a storm when in a group. I can understand what you mean when you talk of being an introvert. God as you already know made us all different and that is what helps the world be interesting and things get done. I am so happy you have found these posts and also the book to read and have shared this with all of us. :) If you were very outgoing you might not be so reflective and insightful, and wise in such things ...what a pity as we would miss the thoughts and wisdom you share with us. :) Sarah

Debra said...

Sarah--Christian extroverts can think of lots of ways that being an introvert is wrong. Trust me--I've heard them all. :)

Such as--the Bible says to *go out* into the world and tell people about God (writing online to the world doesn't count with these extroverts. Online people are not real, they say). And we're to love other people and that always means *doing*. But some people have such a short list of what love *looks like*. It must look like the way they show love toward others or it doesn't count.

I've been told not to write notes of appreciation, but to voice the words, instead (it's easier for many introverts to write). The Bible says to be bold and often introverts don't appear bold in the same way which extroverts do, but an introvert's boldness can require just as much courage, yet appear different to others.

I could go on and on--I've heard many criticisms from the time I was a child and people have been confused by me and often frustrated when they couldn't force me into their extroverted image.

But as I said, I really do feel set free from others' judgments in that area. Thank goodness--it's about time, right? :)

Blessings, Debra (good to hear from you again, Sarah. I'd missed your comments!)

Echoes From the Hill said...

My mother was an extrovert. My dad was an introvert. I think my mom was a bit disappointed that I wasn't more outgoing, but my dad balanced that for me.
I, too, need alone time. I don't look forward to parties and large gatherings, but I usually manage to have a good time. I don't worry about having to talk to everyone, or be in the spotlight.
I think being an introvert has its advantages. We like to be alone, at times, we are comfortable with our own company, and we may be happier, because we don't look to others for our happiness.

Great, thought provoking post.

Anonymous said...

Wow! How uninsightfull { is there such a word? :) } of others to think we should all be the same!! Maybe I should have said short sided anyway, ha! I rejoice in the differences He put into each of us. Jesus was always himself but addressed different people differently. He knew they were not alike and would understand his mission on earth differently because of it. There are even many degrees of being an introvert. I may never be a Peter but I love the Lord just the same. I may not have commented lately but I have been here...just did not think of any good comments! :) Love to read you and what others say though even if I can't comment that day. Sarah

Anonymous said...

What a boring world if all of us were just alike!! I feel one can change too, over a lifetime, though perhaps the basic personality remains the same. Seems that sometimes ill health, etc. can cause one to have to be alone at home and one can learn to be content. I too appreciate alone time, even late at night as that seems to be when it is most available. I appreciate some time too that is not interrupted.
Interesting post.
Elizabeth in NC for a few more days

Sara said...

What a wonderful discovery of the last few years...introversion is NOT a disorder that needs curing! Freedom and joy in being just as God intended :)