Sunday, October 16, 2016

This Introverted Thing

So I'm sitting here on a quiet Sunday afternoon putting my thoughts out on screen. Later I will likely reread and then post, but for now it's a dumping session that may or may not be edited. This is the second such post today and both posts feel like they have potential to make me vulnerable and be somewhat personal. I'm not sure if I'm okay with that or not.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I went to the lake for a few hours with some friends from church. This going to the lake is a regular occurrence in the summer time around here and I've been meaning to go since we moved up, so finally at the end of the third summer of living here, I made it to a lake day. It was a nice day, a bit chilly and breezy, but in the sun it was nice. There was a nice playground for the kids and of course, the lake.

Just before I left, the conversation shifted to everyone sharing if they were introverted or extroverted. I thought this was a good time to leave and prepared to depart. They made me share before I left. Now before I go further, let me describe for you what I think of as an introvert or an extrovert.

An extrovert is someone who is energized by being with people. This doesn't mean she has to talk a lot or be the main front runner in the conversation. This, to me, means that she loves being with people, listening to what they have to say, hearing what's going on, contributing if she's a talkative person or just taking it all in if she's more quiet.

An introvert is someone who is energized by being at home, by reading, by DIY projects, or by cups of coffee shared with one or two best friends. They may go to social events at times because they really want to or at times because they realize it is the proper thing to do. To me, being an introvert does not mean you are quiet and shy and withdrawn. You may even be very outgoing in conversation when you are with a group of people, but it's more how you feel when you leave and go home. Are you exhausted and feel almost lonely and empty or are you energized and ready to go be with more people?

Now I did not look up any definitions of these words, this is just my own personal definition based on my understanding of these two words.

So which am I? Well, I consider myself hands-down an introvert. I said this at the lake and the comment was made, "but you weren't always like that were you?" Hmm, that poses a whole other topic. Does your personality change as you grow older? Or have I made myself change? I don't really know the answer to this, I can only share it from my perspective.

I was discussing this with another friend, a friend who would have been more outgoing in her younger days as well. What's changed? She thought responsibility made a difference for her. Now, I know I could be treading on extroverts' toes here and that is not my intention at all, but I agree with her. I loved doing youth things, then I got married and I was working a full-time job and I was not with my youth group anymore and I just didn't feel like I had the time to plug in with social activities or the energy to plug in either.

So why not after I moved back to my home area? By then, life had changed me. That first summer back here was a tough one for me. I was grieving and I was sick and I didn't like to be around little children. Yes, I probably had a wrong perspective of life then too, but that's how it was.

Am I saying that extroverts don't take their responsibility seriously? Absolutely not. I don't think that for a minute. I do recognize that I don't have enough stuff to do at home to keep me busy without the 101 projects clambering around in my brain begging to be let out.

Does being an introvert give me a valid reason to shut people out? No, it doesn't. I am still required to care about people and to love them and even to be social with them. But does it mean I might not put the emphasis on big social gatherings like others might? Yes, it probably does, but I will try to support some of them, but not all of them.

I would much rather sit down with a cup of coffee and discuss life with one or two people than share about the weather with a dozen while sipping lemonade. Now, really the choice of drink is totally not the point here, but I needed it to help make my comparison!!

But the world does need extroverts. Someone has to plan the events and show up so that they continue to happen. I have coffee at my house once a month. If everyone was like me, I would be having coffee by myself and eating myself round and roly-poly on biscotti and scones, but thanks to the extroverts I know some people will be showing up and I am grateful for that.

Now comes a somewhat sticky subject that I want to address yet. Do we as introverts enjoy big gatherings? I alluded to the fact in my definition that sometimes we can walk away feeling lonely and empty. This is not anyone's fault by our own. As introverts, and I basically am speaking for myself and one or two other people that I've talked with this about (Please I would love to have discussion on this from both sides.) we thrive a lot more on connection. Yes, I have driven home from social gatherings and wondered why I went and yet I did enjoy myself. But I wasn't planning who I was going to call on my way home and see if they wanted to get together yet that day or go see what other social event was going on that I could go to because I was so completely pumped. No, on the way home, I am unwinding, hoping the little miss will take a nice long nap and that I will be able to have some quiet time. I might regret some of the things I said without thinking and I might wonder why I bothered to go at all because now that things are quiet I wonder what good it did me.

It did me good. I know these things are good for me. I am reading a book about doing mothering together and she was talking about the different kinds of friends you need, the might-be-friends, the trying-to-be-friends, the good girlfriends, and the best friends forever. We need all of these friends in life and so I will continue to come to social gatherings though maybe not with the extroverts regularity, but I will come. We all need each other, but I think we all need to give each other grace. It would be very easy for me to condemn the extrovert for their seemingly carefree lifestyle,like how can they be going all the time like that, but we are all wired differently and I am grateful for those who show up at social events and also if I want them to give me grace for my way of doing life, then I need to extend them grace as well.

And now I am going to go see if the library has a book that was recommended to me: Quiet, the Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking.


  1. Where do you want the discussion? Here or fb? I'm choosing here. I think that extroverts tend to misread introverts as selfish and picky because they would rather be with one or two and are more careful to share their thoughts. And I think extroverts are misread as silly and shallow because they will more easily share and be out there. But in reality the feelings of wondering why you went and kicking yourself all over the place for something you said happens to both extroverts and introverts. And how we process those nigglings might be to go home and read or go find more friends. AND. I think that extroverts versus introverts becomes less apparent when we give each other and ourselves grace and as we grow in our confidence in that we are created and built in God's design and redeemed and becoming more complete though Jesus. And maybe that all didn't make sense....I'm on my phone finger punching!

  2. That worded it quite nicely Amy. Thank you. I think giving each other grace is SO important.


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