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Sunday, January 4, 2015

15 minutes on being introverted

My husband has a problem. He thinks there's something wrong with people who like to spend a lot of time with themselves. You know, introverts. He automatically assumes that someone who is quiet and to themselves is either depressed or lacking confidence. Part of this is because he thinks that he is an introvert, while he is most decidedly not one. 

Do you hear me, Dennis? You are not an introvert! You like big parties and you don't use your kids as an excuse to go watch a terrible Barbie mermaid movie just to avoid the social tidal wave. 

He's not the only one with that problem, though. I have spent most of my life thinking that there was something wrong with being introverted, despite the fact that I, myself an an introvert. 

You see, from as early as I can remember up until about the time that I started college, I was constantly being called "quiet" or "sad" or "overly serious". I didn't think much about it, I just thought that it was my demeanor. When I went off to college, though, I decided that I needed to "put myself out there more". Which I did, and it served me well, I made a lot of friends and had a lot of fun that I wouldn't have had otherwise. I also probably compromised in some ways that I shouldn't have, due to social pressure, and I definitely didn't reach the potential education-wise that I would have without my gigantic social life.

I wouldn't trade that time for the world, though. I had so much fun and learned how important relationships are and how fulfilling it is to be a part of a community. Prior to that season of my life, I really didn't value people and relationships as much as I should have.  However, I also got myself really burnt out, developed a caffeine dependency, and started having heart palpitations due to stress (and caffeine dependency). Pouring myself out nonstop socially was just so draining, it wasn't sustainable to me.

Looking back, I realize that I made a common mistake. I thought that a person's character could be judged by his or her people skills. More outgoing people were just better all around. A person with a strong personality was more likely to make a better leader, etc.

About year two into my college experience, though. I realized something - I had been overlooking some really amazing people simply for the fact that it took longer to get to know them.

This isn't original thinking. I watched Susan Cain's TED talk, "The power of introverts", last night, and she lays it all out there in a more complete manner than I have here. I'm just sharing my personal experience.

I still wasn't ready to call myself and introvert, though. Introverts are not socially well adjusted and don't like people, right?

Well, this year makes ten years since I started college. (Gasp!) I finally learned, in 2014, at the age of 27, that I am in fact and introvert. Not only that, but it isn't a character flaw and I should stop seeing it as such. Neither is being an extrovert, of course. God makes all kinds, as he keeps reminding me.

Part of what taught me this was having kids. More specifically, when my oldest child stopped taking naps and I no longer had any guaranteed time to myself each day. If felt a lot like having my oxygen supply cut off. I love being with my kids, and I really love being with my husband/family/friends etc. But you know who else I like to hang out with? Me.

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