I am an introvert. Shy from day one. An 8th grade report card said I was an “enigma” – which I had to look up (not a compliment). If class participation was factored into a grade, I was destined for C’s.
As functioning adults, we introverts don’t have the option of being selectively mute.
Our work-life features icebreakers, role-playing, presentations, Turn and Talk’s. And my personal favorite – performing skits. Throw in some kind of point system and it’s a wonder we don’t pass out.
Then there are observations and evaluations by a boss, or better yet, a team. The word, Fishbowl, induces sheer terror.
Basically, being ON is stress-inducing for an introvert.
The book, Quiet, was written for folks like us. The author, Susan Cain, extols the benefits and contributions of introverts while acknowledging the challenges.
“Introverts may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.”
Ms. Cain reassures us that “There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.”
And finally she counsels, “Don’t think of introversion as something that needs to be cured. Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to.”
The Bible says that we are God’s creation and that He values both introverts and extroverts. Bottom line, He cares about the state of our heart. Are we humble? Modest? Do we have a gentle spirit? Think of Mary, Ruth, Jonathan, Barnabas — google their stories and you’ll discover sacrificial humility. Not exactly the headliners of their day.
Jesus himself retreated from crowds to be quiet; he spent 40 days in the wilderness before his public life began; he was drawn not to the rich and famous, but to those with humble hearts. “Blessed are the meek.”
So may we embrace humility and stop bemoaning our personality types.
We are all God’s enigmas.
(Click here for Susan Cain’s 2012 Ted Talk – The Power of Introverts. Apparently, we’re not alone. It was viewed over 4 million times in its first year!)