Monday, June 18, 2012

on being an introvert.


When Jordan and I were first dating and in the middle of our initial get-to-know-each-other process, I confessed to him something I thought might scare him away: I am completely content being alone. Actually, I believe I told him I wouldn't mind living out in a cabin in the middle of nowhere, a lá one of my heroes, Henry David Thoreau.

His response? "As long as I can come too."

Jordan and I are alike in some of life's most important ways -- in our dedication to faith and family and friends, in our belief in commitment and grace and faithfulness and truth, in our love for one another -- and we're also alike in some of the most silly of ways -- in our appreciation of that new-book smell, in our affinity for language and for words, in our ability to catch a fit of giggles in the most inopportune times. In fact, when I friend of mine visited me while I was away at school, I introduced her to Jordan, and I've heard her report back to my mother included this tiny detail: "Mrs. Susie, Jordan is like the male version of Annie! They're perfect for each other!"

So, yes, my husband and I are a lot alike and pretty darn compatible.

Of course, we also are very different, and that's never more obvious than when I'm longing for quiet, and Jordan is talking... again.

Jordan could carry on an hour-long conversation with a brick wall. He knows no stranger. When it's time to leave church or work or a friend's house, Jordan is the last one to leave. I have to drag him out of the sanctuary, have to give him "the look" to get him to hang up the phone, have to tell him before we go anywhere what time we need to leave and why 11:00 is, in fact, a pretty ridiculous time to be out on a "work-night." (I know; I'm lame.)

In other words, Jordan is the fun one. He's the likeable one. He's the extrovert.

I? I would like to be at home, wrapped in a blanket, reading a good book.

Truly.

A friend recently asked if I had the choice between a good book and human interaction, which would I choose.

My response? It depends on the day, the person, and the book.

Don't get me wrong: I love my friends and my family, and many days, there's nothing I would rather do than spend time with the people I love, eating and talking and laughing and playing. But on those days, there better be time for a nap, because being an introvert isn't about being shy or quiet or hating my fellow man. It's about renewed energy versus depleted energy.

Jordan comes home from time with friends and loved ones ready to take on the world. He's already prone to off-the-wall energy anyway, so spending time with friends? That just heightens it. He loves nothing more than spending time conversing or playing with people, and he always comes home feeling better, feeling more alive and more capable of taking on the world.

I go out with friends, and I love every moment. Then, though, I come home and promptly get ready for bed.

I like to think; I like to be quiet. I enjoy my solitude.

I also like public speaking, dinner with friends, and raucous conversations with family.

That doesn't make me an oxymoron; it makes me an introvert.

I believe human beings were made for each other. I believe Thoreau probably needed to borrow sugar and milk from his neighbors, probably ached for conversations with his transcendalist buddies. I also believe, though, we were created for retreat and for quiet, and often, that's what my soul longs for. In those moments of quiet, I reconnect with myself, I recharge, and I'm more than ready to face the world, to spend time with those I love (and those I don't).

We're halfway through this month of saying no, and already I can tell: I like this. I like this process, like what I'm learning. I'm thrilled that maybe, just maybe, if I can learn these lessons now, I can becoming a stronger, more confident, adult person. I can be well on my way to figuring out just who I am and why I am.

So, yes: I am an introvert. I've known it for a long time, but I'm finally recognizing what that means and how to own it.

(And, P.S. - If you're an introvert, too -- or if you're an extrovert with an introvert in your life -- I think you'll appreciate the video I've embedded above. Susan Cain's 20 minutes on being an introvert in an extrovert's world blew my mind... and inspired me to run out and grab her book, Quiet, this weekend.)

7 comments:

Erin said...

Love love love this. First of all, my husband and I are exactly like you and yours. I am the introvert, he is the extrovert. And ALL the time I have to drag us out of places because he is still talking.
Second of all, thanks for sharing that TED talk! I had not seen it yet and thought it was great!

Samantha said...

I lean more towards being an introvert as well, so I related to much of what you said. I love being around friends and family, but I'm just as happy when I have alone time. I'll have to check out her book after I watch the video!

kinga said...

I'm an introvert, too. I've been realizing it now and realizing it's okay to be one.
I'll have to check out the book and watch the video :)

Senja said...

I understand what you mean. I also love being alone and take my time outs whenever I need. :)

Senja said...

I totally understand what you mean and can relate a lot :) i need my time alone and take the time I need.

Chelsea said...

Oh my stars I am the exact. same. way.
Down to the small details! I didn't think I'd meet anyone who would understand me when I talk like this, but you do/would! Wow. God is cool like that.

Eliza :: Case Study said...

I love that you posted about this! I was a psychology major during my undergrad and did a lot of research on this topic. I also posted about this and how it influences my marriage just a few weeks ago! Loved reading this post :) xo! eliza