I’m known for my love of cooking and baking. I’m the mom of four boys. I’m Matt’s wife. I’m that lady who likes eating natural food. I’m the mom who lives at the soccer field every spring and fall. I’m the one who writes a blog and a column in our local newspaper. I love jars. I love butter. This is what people know about me.
What people are always surprised to hear is this:
I am a hard core introvert.
(Did you just call me Shirley? You don’t even know me at all.)
My name is Laura (pronounced like this) and oh yes. I am very much an introvert.
The confusion comes when people don’t know the true definition of introvert. (Introverts are hermits, they hate people, they’re always super shy, and they can’t handle having conversations. Oh my goodness. This is so not it.) Or when people do know the true definition, but they see me flitting around all the people having lively conversations – this is when they are surprised to hear that I am introverted. Understandable.
So then, what is an introvert? There are many definitions and explanations, but here’s the most basic way I understand it and explain it to people:
An introvert can very much enjoy being with people, but will become drained after a time, and finds rest and refreshment after some time alone. An extrovert, on the other hand, is drained by alone time and instead craves and is completely rejuvenated by people time.
Oh how I crave and need alone time.
Because of this, I have too often viewed my introverted nature as a weakness. Sometimes I’m even angry with God for making me an introvert. Why, God? Why have you made me love so many people and put so many, many people in my life – but then made it so exhausting for me to be with all the people all the time?
Check it out: Introvert has a pity party, inviting only herself to the party, because well…introvert! Clearly it’s best that no one else was invited to that party anyway.
So is being an introvert a weakness?
Even as it feels that way to me at times, I know that it definitely is not. As my husband likes to point out to me: If I were extroverted, I would likely never have started this website. I would never have stayed home long enough, sat in a chair long enough, sought quiet writing time enough. That’s just one example of ways God uses my introverted nature in ministry. Spending hours in my kitchen, alone with pots and pans and mixing bowls, whipping and stirring and simmering and having all sorts of fun with food that blesses so many – I find so much refreshment in this! Extroverts can also blog and love cooking, no doubt! It’s just that those are two ways my variety of introvertedness shines through in ministry.
There are struggles and blessings with being an introvert just like there are struggles and blessings with being an extrovert. One is not better or worse than the other. One isn’t the preferred personality trait. God uses both – introverts and extroverts for His purposes.
How do I find rest?
My biggest struggle with being an introvert is that I am so rarely alone. There are a lot of people in my life that I love and want to spend time with. There are many needs – starting with my husband and kids and ending with…well – there is no end to the people to love. God is teaching me that it is not my job to be all things to all people and that taking care of myself is a must if I actually want to love the people He puts in my path to serve. I’ve found that I must have alone time or I feel an actual physical and mental ache.
- I’ve learned to schedule very little activity outside my home or with people on Mondays and Thursdays if possible. (Sundays and Wednesdays are very people-filled. I’m usually extra tired on Mon. and Thurs. as a result, which is my nice way of saying that those are the days I can’t finish sentences.)
- I get up earlier than my family almost every day so that I can sit in the quiet for an extended period of time – just God and me.
- I say “no” more than I say “yes” to outside requests. I’ve learned that this is God-approved. No guilt.
- I enlist the help of my husband to provide me some much needed alone time. (Elias has practice tonight? Don’t you think Justus and Malachi should go too? You know, for the fresh air and exercise? And also because then I could be all alone all by myself with no one talking or breathing near me?)
- I practice a weekly Sabbath rest, almost every week if possible, usually on Tuesdays. I promise to write more about this sometime.
- I have had to learn the introvert/extrovert nature of my children and teach them mine so that we can make this work. (This, as in, the living together thing.)
What About My Husband and Children?
Matt is also an introvert. He rarely feels the people exhaustion I experience, though. I believe this is because his line of work lends itself to quite a bit of alone time each day, so he achieves a nice balance of people time/alone time quite naturally. (Either that or he tips the scales a little closer to the extroverted side, if in fact there is a sliding scale.)
Two out of four of our boys are absolute extroverts – our oldest and our youngest – the bookends. They love leaving and doing and being with all the people as much as possible! Some day I’ll write a post about what I’ve learned about homeschooling extroverted kids. But for today, I will say that helping us all understand our people vs. alone time needs has been very necessary and good. I want my kids to understand that when Mom needs alone time it isn’t because I don’t like being with them. I simply need some quiet time so that I’ll be healthy.
Introvert or Extrovert?
So what about you? Do you get your energy from people or from alone time? Have you ever taken the Myers-Briggs personality test to help determine this? I have found it so helpful in understanding myself and others. No more guilt for needing alone time! (Usually. Mostly. NO! Being an introvert is not a weakness!)
Here’s the test I took most recently if you’d like to take a few minutes to see for yourself. I don’t believe these types of things are the be all and end all, but I do find them interesting (even if some of the questions I’d really have to give an I have no idea answer).
Share with us here! Introvert or Extrovert? Ambivert? That’s a real thing too.
P.S. My introvertism is why I likely won’t join Periscope and some other social media outlets. In an effort to stay sane, I just can’t do it. But I love you all the same. :)