I accept the gift of rest and isolation, small group relationships, and tackling the delight of my booklist.
I am an introvert.
Introversion and extroversion, of course, are just terms that were coined to describe a spectrum in how mankind relates to each other. Everyone falls somewhere on the spectrum. No two introverts are the same. My type of introverting is going to look different than the next. I’m not going to take the time to explain what classifies an extrovert or introvert. The internet has covered that topic. A while back, a photo-list popped up in my Facebook Newsfeed, “10 Myths About Introverts Busted” by Lifehacker India, of all sources. As I read through it, I felt like I had just met a kindred spirit, someone who gets it. Here is the text of that Lifehacker India Facebook post:
“Myth 1: Introverts don’t like to talk
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
What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t just 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 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
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
Introverts take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there 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 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 someone to share their discoveries with.
Myth 7: Introverts are weird
Introverts think for themselves and because of that, they often challenge the norm. They don’t make decisions based on what it popular or trendy.
Myth 8: Introverts are aloof nerds
It’s just that that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding for 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.
Myth 10: Introverts can become extroverts
Introverts cannot ‘fix themselves’ and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race.”
Those ten things right there. Those are me.
I’ve learned in the past year that I am the introvertiest of introverts, and that God made me that way. I’m not an introvert out of brokenness or woundings, which can sometimes be the case. My introvert behaviors are not actions that come out of fear. I will still behave like an introvert in settings that are completely comfortable for me.
I am an introvert. I thrive in small group settings. I want one-on-one connections and I want to talk about the deep stuff. The real stuff. I don’t understand the point of small talk. Large group events, chatting with many people about what I feel are unimportant topics, feels draining and pointless. I have no desire to be the person who knows everyone. I don’t desire a large group of friends. I want to know a few people SO WELL. I want to know their hearts. If I come away from a conversation without learning a bit about the heart and passion of the other person, it feels like a wasted conversation. My goal in any human interaction is true connection. I’m not great in a party situation, unless of course I can find a group of four people or less to spend the evening connecting with.
People tend to view introverts as loners, people who are bad at social interactions, but the truth is my introvert tendencies are relational strengths. I am good at creating close connections, given the chance and right circumstances. Friendship is one of my really strong points.
But I’ve encountered something interesting in my adventure of moving to a new state and joining a new school. When school started, I knew it would be a mostly large-group situation with a bunch of people I had never met before. This is my introvert nightmare. I also knew I was supposed to do it and the only way I was going to make friends in this group of strangers was by putting myself out there. So I made myself go up and talk to a few people each time. I tried to create small-group, introvert-friendly moments in the crowd. As the school year has gone on, more people have had a chance to hang out with me one-on-one or in a small group setting. I’ve started to get comments, “Wow, you’re really opening up and getting comfortable here.” “Oh, I can see how God has been working in you and building confidence.” “It’s so fun to see you opening up and blossoming. We’re finally seeing the real you!”
My introvert wants to scream at them.
I have not changed or grown more confidence. God’s not changing me into someone who’s more outgoing. I didn’t need to “open up” before. I am an introvert. They had only talked to me in a large group, small talk-focused setting before. Now we’re sitting at a table one-on-one and I’m excited to finally have a real (as I define it) conversation.
I am not an introvert who really needs to be sanctified into an extrovert. I am who God created me to be. I know how I function and I am happy with it. I like having time alone. I like hanging out with just one or two people at a time. I like conversations that get real deep real fast.
Introversion certainly can be a mask for insecurity or fear. People can think they are introverts because of brokenness. Introversion can be used as an excuse to avoid scary or uncomfortable situations. I’m careful to never let the label introvert limit me. But, I know that myself, and many others, were created to be introverts by God.
I like being an introvert. I like how God made me. We must learn to honor introverts for who God made them to be, rather than only celebrating them when we see “outgoing,” extrovert-esc behavior from them.