On Being an Introvert

Joe and I went on a ski trip last weekend in Virginia with our church group. Besides my lack of ability to ski, I am an extremely introverted person who’s dealing with mysterious health issues, so it hasn’t been easy for me to get out and do things. But he really wanted me to go, so he arranged for us to have our own cabin and plenty of relax time in between our activities. It made me feel all high-maintenance and obnoxious, but I needed it.

Despite my usual “curse” of getting my period and being miserable every single time I travel, I went shopping with my girlfriends and joined the group for dinner and game night. In between, I napped and watched Netflix in our cabin by myself, and Joe and I spent Valentine’s day painting pottery at a local studio and having dinner together. I even found time to use the craft supplies I packed. And for the first time in a while, I actually enjoyed a group trip.

I think it would be wrong to miss the fact that God provided for me for the sake of building relationships. But I am also starting to learn some things about living life as an introvert.

1. We are not antisocial. There’s plenty of material out there about what it means to be an introvert or an extrovert, and I can only speak for myself, but I care about people and I need friends just like anybody else. I just have to choose carefully how to spend my energy, because people wear me out. And then I have to “recharge” with alone time.

2. It’s okay to not always be “flexible.” Sometimes you need to be flexible for someone else, and sometimes you need them to be flexible for you. Not everyone will understand how you operate, but if they care enough, they’ll keep trying.

3. Accepting yourself is important. I have this problem with always thinking people are judging me. It’s true, people judge what they don’t understand. But most of the time I’m just judging myself in somebody else’s voice. Every time I say something and people don’t respond how I expected. Every time I think I’m letting someone down. Pretty soon I feel like everyone would be a lot happier if I were someone else. But God made me to be me, and if I’m not happy with that, how can I expect anyone else to be?

4. Put yourself out there. I’m not telling you to change your personality. If you’re like me, being bold is not your strong suit. But I’m getting to a point in life where I don’t care who knows that I sleep from 4am to at least noon because of my medication, or because I’m a crazy artist, or because I watch too much Netflix. Or that I have to become a temporary hermit after a social function. And it is uncomfortable but liberating. This goes with accepting yourself. Give people a chance to know you, and they might like you more than you think.

5. Find a balance. Everyone needs solitude, and everyone needs community. How much of each one? That depends on the person. Know your needs and plan your time accordingly. And don’t feel bad. And don’t feel like everything has to happen right now. The people who care will still be there when you’re ready to give them the best of yourself and not the burned-out leftovers of your social energy.

I’m still a little exhausted from the trip (and the seasonal allergies that I always underestimate!) but this time I can say that it was worth it. I’m glad I made the effort, and I’m looking forward to the next opportunity. After I hide out for a while with my wonderful new art supplies (yay tax returns and yay craft store sales).

And with that…Introverts UNITE! Individually!

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