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Confessions of a Full-Blown Introvert

Confessions of a Full-Blown Introvert

It’s something I’ve always known. It’s the thing I’ve always struggled with. They told me for years that if I wanted to be normal I had to be more of an extrovert. But no matter what I tried I still found that I needed my time alone to recharge.

Was this something I needed to have fixed by a medical professional? Is it a curse that I was born with or was it merely a matter of choice that my environment conditioned me to make? These are tough questions to answer and I thought that by delving in to find the solution I’d be able to change myself.

But it didn’t work.

I’ve spent a lot of time lately trying to find out why I act the way I do. If you’re an extrovert, you could think I had become obsessed if you knew how much time and energy I’ve invested in this pursuit. But as I’ve come to know myself better, I’ve found that to do otherwise would be abnormal for me.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been introspective. There is no time when my brain isn’t “on,” churning ideas and concepts every direction I can conceive of. I was always happy to be by myself as a kid. Solitude didn’t bother me at all. But still there were times when my friends who were more socially oriented and had more friends made me question whether my introversion was something to be celebrated.

I can remember those summers when I would tell myself that “next year will be different.” The problem is that I had no inkling of how it would be different, just that because I wanted it to be so, it would.

But, of course, year after year, I was known as the “quiet one.” The extroverts thought I was weird but were nice enough to notice that when I did say something it was worth hearing. And that was because I had put a ton of thought into it before it escaped my lips. Everything I said was a work of art, a masterpiece of planning!

As I’ve come to know myself, I’m discovering that I am not so abnormal. I like to think, be alone, read, learn, and investigate things. When I am with people, I prefer small groups to hordes and I choose my conversations carefully. I didn’t have too many at church today but the few I did have were not short. I like to invest in people, get to know them, make them feel welcome, and maybe be to them what most people aren’t. I can’t do this with everybody. But for those who will engage, I can spend an hour getting to know the details of their lives. And because I’ve spent the time, I find it easier to remember them the next time I see them.

To me that is a strength.

Introverts may be a minority in our culture. Extroverts are seen as living the right way, the only way. But can you imagine a world where everyone is motivated by action without deep thinking? I’m not saying that everyone should be this way. If introverts ruled the world, procrastination would be the order of the day sometimes. We need some to think deeply, and some to spur us on to act. It’s a balance designed by God to make what needs to happen occur in the best time frame possible.

And I’m perfectly okay with that. Consider the field of politics. You have the elected officials, who are most likely the extroverts. They get out there and communicate, act, and lead. But there is a quiet leadership behind the scenes that investigates, thinks through, and helps shape the policies that these leaders propose. That’s where the introverts come in. Without the quiet leadership to balance the need for action, our world would be a lot less efficient.

So introversion has value as much as extroversion does.

I’ve also discovered that the way you think is something that will most likely never change. So why fight the way you function? If you’re an introvert like me, you need your time alone to recharge and reflect. You may enjoy people some of the time as I do. But you need that quiet time to think and process the details of your life. When you live out of sync with who you are, stress sets in. Your health will suffer because you’ll feel off-balance all the time. It’s no fun. I’ve tried it. I don’t like it. It’s like looking at your weakness and saying, “I think I’ll develop this.” No matter how hard you work, you’ll never rise above just average.

And that can really be depressing.

So, if you’re reading this and you’re an introvert, celebrate who you are by doing what you do best. If you’re an extrovert and have stumbled across this page, I hope it will help you understand us better. And don’t be offended if we can only take you in small doses – that’s just the way we are. No offense to you or your way of life is intended.

So be yourself and you’ll be free to be your best.