Your community can’t support you if they don’t know what you need, if they don’t know you’re hurting.
Thought of the day, courtesy of yours truly.
I’ve been convicted by this idea lately. It reinforces the notion that we were created to be part of a community, to cultivate relationships with others, to share our joys, as well as our pain. The hand we reach out to today may be the hand that we help tomorrow. It’s a give and take, a love that doesn’t keep score. I’m privileged to have been a part of such manifestations of love, grace, and compassion. Communities provide a witness to our lives, an acknowledgement of our worth, and an opportunity to simply live life with others – to celebrate together, to mourn alongside one another, to partake in the mundane and the exciting.
Moving around the country doesn’t make this easy. A sense of belonging can be hard to come by, and the craving to be known grows when isolation takes over. The makeup of my predisposed personality can hinder the let’s-go-make-new-friends process. I can be intimidated in new situations with large groups of people. I value sincere conversation and deeper relationships (…which obviously take a little time to develop.). I’m a classic introvert. (Side note: I’m kind of loving the attention people are giving to introversion and extroversion right now…maybe all of the social media buzz – comical and serious – will help us all understand and interact with each other better.)
I’ve been mulling over the benefits and hindrances of my personality type, spurred by the reading of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. It’s given me a liberating new sense of understanding – maybe I’ve finally reached the pinnacle “self-actualization” level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Nerd alert.
It’s no surprise to anyone that I’m an introvert – which doesn’t mean that I don’t like people, it simply means I gain energy from quiet time and solitude, as opposed to extroverts who gain energy from being with people. According to the research Susan Cain presented in Quiet, I’m also a “highly reactive” individual. Translation: I’m more sensitive to stimulation. Cain describes highly reactive/sensitive individuals as follows: “They feel exceptionally strong emotions–sometimes acute bouts of joy, but also sorrow, melancholy, and fear. Highly sensitive people also process information about their environments–both physical and emotional–unusually deeply. They tend to notice subtleties that others miss–another person’s shift in mood, say, or a lightbulb burning a touch too brightly.”
Here’s a list a phrases Cain uses to describe introverts: Sensitive. Thoughtful. Reflective, thinkers, cerebral. Devote social energies to close friends. Listen more than they talk. Express themselves better in writing. Dislike conflict. Strong conscience. Nervous when being evaluated (Hello, capstone presentation). Sensitivity to nuance. Responsive to beauty. Hedge against risk. Deep convictions. Quiet, which can been interpreted as being weak, lacking, or aloof. Not charismatic. Withdrawn, especially during conflict. Prone to recoil from novelty or overstimulation. Find meaning in their obstacles.
My interest in personality types does not stem from a desire to assert a superior type – I think each person and every personality possess great value. My fascination with introversion and extroversion comes from a yearning to improve relationships, and to better understand the lens that others use to view the world.
Reading Quiet, along with other relevant articles, has helped me understand both the limitations and advantages of my personality. As a conflict-adverse introvert, I need to work on remaining calm during confrontation, to take a moment to collect my thoughts and to respond in a thoughtful way, not to become defensive and overwhelmed. As a person who doesn’t like to be the center of attention, I need to find ways to remain articulate and calm when I’m in the spotlight. As a highly private person with some perfectionist/slight-OCD tendencies mixed in, I need to continue to work on knowing when it’s time to say that I’m not okay, while also accepting that it’s okay to not be okay.
The lovely mix of a girl I am today is a product of both nature and nurture. I can’t change the core of who I am. But I can continually seek to improve myself and my interactions with others. Introverts are not inferior or inadequate people…we’re just a little quieter. And there’s nothing wrong with that.