Introverts

This won’t surprise most people, I admit that I am an introvert. Last year I read the book Quiet by Susan Cain.  And I enjoy reading Tim Challies who has reviewed Quiet and has a few other things to say about introverts. This blog post by him is about a scene that is also described in Susan Cain’s book, and one I read with laughter and complete understanding. (And lived this August when we were at  Brooklyn Tabernacle for worship one Sunday.)

And in many ways my blog post today is just a big “me too”. I was talking with a friend today about how different I am from 20 years ago, or 30 years ago. (School is hard, and it’s a little bit harder as an introvert.) We talked about why I changed. I mentioned the people I thought had influenced me. First is my husband. By giving me a safe haven in a solid marriage for 20 years, he convinced me, slowly but surely, that I could let my guard down a bit, step outside my comfort zone, and be safe. To this day, he still is alert that I’m likely to be ready to leave the party or group event long before he is. We laugh at times when he admits “we stayed longer than I expected tonight.” I haven’t been easy for him to convince, but he’s just been patient and steady.

Another person who has influenced me greatly is my best friend of the last several years. She’s an extrovert and comfortable in her skin. She’s pushed me outside my comfort zone a number of times, but she’s right there at my side when she does it. I’ve learned a lot from watching her.

I also have to admit that I’ve had some very good friends and neighbors for the past 15 years or so. I’ve felt safe to change and try things and go back even when I didn’t do something right.

Because, that’s what is behind most of my introversion. I’m afraid of failure, because when I fail I cry and get upset, and I cannot seem to control that. It’s much much safer to just not be in a position where I could fail. I blush at the drop of a hat. Having all attention on me, even when telling a story to friends, still brings a deep blush to my face. Definitely easier to not tell stories or speak up or have attention on me ever, for any reason. 🙂

And yet, I’ve never been happy as an introvert. Or maybe it’s really that I’ve never been happy being afraid of blushing, crying, or messing up. There is a song popular on the radio right now about the Cool Kids.

I wish that I could be like the cool kids
‘Cause all the cool kids, they seem to fit in
I wish that I could be like the cool kids

Read more: Echosmith – Cool Kids Lyrics | MetroLyrics

That’s what I always envied. People who seemed to know what to say or do, and even if things didn’t go right, they didn’t have to fight tears or blush deeper at the realization they were blushing.

Anyway, where I was going when I started thinking about this blog post, is that I’ve gotten better at some things. The tears don’t come quite as easily and most of the time I ignore the hint of a blush so it doesn’t get deeper. I’ve learned (often) to laugh at myself or the situation and keep going.

I never had much patience with myself as a shy, quiet, and “fragile” person who could get upset so easily. And while I try to remember that I was, and sometimes still am, just like that. I am not always patient with other people who are that way. I work to be merciful and full of grace for those who are introverts and who struggle to interact with others and figure out how to handle attention.

But I also wish I could go back to my middle-school and high-school self and shake me a little bit. Remind me that I’m not the center of the universe and too much of my introversion or shyness is really self-centeredness.

Ah well, those are my rambling thoughts for today.

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