Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Introvert or Extrovert?
Then, a couple of years ago, I was sitting next to one of our high school counselors at a staff party prior to the holidays. She asked about our family plans for Christmas, and I must have moaned or rolled my eyes or something. As my children will tell you, although I love Christ, His nativity, Christmas music, the special family ornaments we hang on the tree each year...I really do not love Christmas. It usually sends me into a stressed-out guilt-ridden funk.
Anyway, my counselor friend then asked me if I am extroverted or introverted. "Uhhh," I intelligently replied. So she took pity on my and asked another insightful question. "When you're with a group of people, like at a party, do you get energy from them, or does it take energy out of you? she asked. That was a no brainer. Parties suck the energy right out of me. I fake it until it's time to go home. Diagnosis: I'm an introvert.
How could that be, I wondered? How could I be an introvert and get up in front of a classroom of 30+ kids every day? I genuinely do like people. My counselor friend told me that it's because I've learned to compensate for my introverted-ness. I have developed people skills as a way to cope, and they can get me through for a while, but eventually I will need some "down time" to recharge my batteries.
This has been an important lesson for me about myself. It has freed me from the guilt of not wanting to be in complex group situations; I still do them, but I'm not down on myself for not always enjoying it. And Christmas with a large blended family certainly is a "complex group situation."
When Mark and I attended the Courage to Teach seminars a few years ago, we learned an important ground rule: presume welcome. That is, when you go into a new group, presume that the others there will be glad to welcome you and spend time with you. When I go into group situations now, it helps me to presume welcome. But it also helps to go off to my private places, my quiet times, and recharge my batteries.
If you are interested in a more extensive look at introverts, check out this article from Atlantic Monthly. I couldn't have said it better myself.