The more I live, the more I realize just how many ways I am unwittingly offensive to people. Perhaps “offensive” is too strong a word, but it is the most all-inclusive. There are many things about me that to me are completely normal, but to the rest of the world are strange and even dangerous.
I like cats. I am not fond of dogs. I prefer books to television. I won’t wear form-fitting clothing. I refuse to use foul language. I like opera and other forms of classical music. Rock music makes my toes curl. I like theater. I hate sports. I’m a Christian. I’m an introvert.
There are some people out there who would read that list and assume that I am somehow an enemy of the human race who likes to hide away in cobwebby corners, wearing a burka, listening to Puccini and hating the world and everything in it. Anyone who has graciously allowed me into their lives long enough to know me well knows that this is simply not true.
People attach a negative stigma to introverts. They find it freakish that someone would rather spend an evening going on a walk, alone, than in a room crowded with people she doesn’t know and who don’t particularly care about her. While most introverts enjoy a good party now and then, especially a party of old and dear friends (and, yes, of course introverts have friends), it drains them, requiring them to recharge. Alone.
In the past two years, I preferred to spend my Friday and Saturday evenings by myself. The thought of having that time taken away gave me hives, knowing that I would not have any time to recharge at the end of a week of being socially involved. This semester, however, I decided to throw most (if not all) caution to the wind, and spend my Friday nights at rehearsals for a ministry play. My Saturdays were crammed with activities for my literary society, meetings for student leaders, and work at the UU library. Sundays meant church, and teaching in children’s church and being in the orchestra and general fellowship—none of which is a burden, mind you. None of these activities are a problem. They are all things I enjoy; things I volunteered for. They are activities that are training me for my future ministry—wherever that may be. However, they left me very little time to just sit and be quiet. I had no time to let the dust settle in my brain.
Extroverts do not understand this. They derive energy from interaction with other people. They have to be doing, doing, doing to be happy. So it is foreign, even appalling, to think that anyone could thrive on solitude and not be a hater of mankind.
For the sake of introverts everywhere, someone very clever made a little visual guide to understanding introverts. While its application may not be universal, it makes several good points…and it made me laugh. Hopefully you introverts out there will laugh as well.
Incidentally, the only reason I was able to write a post of such absurd length this evening was because this is the first Friday since August when I have had nothing to do and nowhere to go. I took a walk. I wrote in my journal. I drank a cup of French Vanilla tea. It was lovely.