This may surprise some of you, but I am an introvert. If you are in fact surprised by that statement, then you haven’t met me. I used to feel like admitting that I am an introvert was a like admitting I’m a chronic liar, or that I steal purses from little old ladies crossing the street. Admitting I’m an introvert seemed like just that – an admission.
But what am I admitting to? That God made me some sort of tragic mistake? That he created me flawed and broken? That he made me unlikeable and unloveable because of my introverted-ness? Being an introvert seemed like a sad second to: “Hey, I’m an extrovert”.
Extroverts are fun. They are the life of the party, the ones everyone wants around. They pull people in with their boisterous ways and crowd-playing abilities. Extroverts thrive around people. Extroverts are seen.
How I’m an Introvert
I’ve always had a crowd of friends. In grade school, high school, college. I loved being with my friends. Even in the two times I tried to date someone in high school, the relationships only lasted a couple of weeks because every time we were on a date, I kept thinking, I wonder what everyone else is doing right now. I’m pretty sure that’s not the reaction to have while on a date.
But in class, I came off as the shy girl, quietly doing her thing at her desk, never raising her hand or contributing to the conversation. If the teacher did call on me and all eyes turned in my direction, I’d slide down in my seat and turn red. Even if I did know the answer, the words never seemed to want to come out of my mouth.
Spontaneous speech in a crowd turned me to stone.
On the other hand, I’d give great speeches in Communications class. Written out, prepared in advance, practiced – I could rock those speeches. Because of my eating disorder recovery, I’ve spoken to junior high groups, youth groups, chapels, even did some TV interviews, and I was okay doing those. Yeah, the content may have been hard, but I knew my words, practiced them, wrote them out, drew from my heart.
But ask me to voice an opinion off the cuff in a faculty meeting and my voice shakes and my thoughts turn to mush.
I’ve written the greatest chapel speeches in my head, powerful speeches to people that have pissed me off, eloquent speeches to the president to voice the loud opinions I have in my head.
But when eyes are on me and I need the words to come out of me on the spur of the moment, my thoughts go silent. Poof – gone.
I love working in the teachers lounge during my free period because, as staff walk though, I can have one on one conversations, and I’ve gotten to know many of the staff better because of it.
But put me in the lounge during break when the space is packed with people, and you’ll find me in a corner watching the conversations, listening, laughing, but rarely adding my own voice.
I used to have what I called “One Person Parties”. Don’t laugh, this was a thing for me. On a weekend night, when friends had plans, my siblings happened to all be out of the house, my parents were upstairs falling asleep in their chairs, I’d put on my comfiest clothes, rent my favorite movies, make some popcorn, curl up on the couch, and enjoy my “One Person Party”. It was quiet, I could cry or laugh or whatever during my movie without being judged, and I could simply be by myself.
Then the next night, I’d be out with my friends again.
Life is about balance, and that’s how I stayed mentally happy.
How My Eating Disorder Distorted My Introverted-ness
Being an introvert was never a problem for me in my pre-ED life. It was simply who I was. I unconsciously accepted the fact that God made me an introvert for a reason. Like I said, life was balanced. I lived as a healthy introvert who liked people but needed alone time to regroup.
But then ED took who I was and distorted it for his own purposes. ED used my need to be alone to stay balanced, and skewed it entirely to his advantage. What better way to keep ED’s presence hidden from others than by keeping me isolated.
Instead of being a healthily balanced introvert, I became very good at hiding, staying away from people when being around people would allow them to see my eating disorder.
I blamed my introverted-ness for staying home and not going out. I thought, “It’s just who I am,” when really I should have said, “This is who my ED has made me.”
No more balance. No more healthy introvert.
Getting Back to Healthy Balance as an Introvert
After I realized how unbalanced ED had made me, I spent the years of recovery discovering my balance.
I actually went out of my way to put myself among people. I overcompensated in order to not hide and to not be isolated. That is what I needed to do in order to keep ED in the light where others could see him. If ED couldn’t hide in me, if people could see me, then I could fight for recovery.
But after 5 years, I believe I can say that I’ve found my balance back.
I do not have to overcompensate because I trust who I am – who God made me to be. I’ve found myself back and I’ve found gratitude in being me. I admit to nothing except being a beautifully created child of God.
I am an introvert. And I like it.
I like chatting with 2 or 3 people. I like crowds until I don’t, and then I basically shut down. I need time to process and reflect before giving an opinion. I recharge by being by myself. I gather a lot of my information by simply watching and listening. I’ve got more going on in my head than is coming out of my mouth.
In other words, I’m an introvert. I’m not shy. I’m not insecure. I’m not boring. I’m not passive. I’m not a hermit. I’m not without opinions. I’m simply me. I’m an introvert.
God Make Me an Introvert for a Reason
I have balance within myself, and because of my own balance, I have balance with others. God made me an introvert for a reason. God made all of us different for a reason because God knows what he’s doing.
Men and women. Summer and winter. Land and sea. Cats and dogs. Sun and moon. Awake and asleep. Peanut butter and jelly.
Introvert and extrovert.
We need one to complement the other. We need one to appreciate the characteristics of the other. We need one to balance the other. We need both to glorify the God who created each.
Balance in relationships won’t work unless we work to know each other, respect each other, respect our own characteristics, allow each other to be our own self, and then push each other to be more.
Introvert or extrovert, we all deserve to be seen.
Unfortunately we can fail. I know I do. I fail often. I selfishly forget to accept the differences. I live too safely when it’s easier than stepping outside my lines. I use my introverted-ness as a crutch. I forget that God created me for a purpose in all my beautiful introverted tendencies. My purpose is his glory.
He created all of us for his glory.
The point stands:
God knows what he’s doing. God created me as an introvert for a reason. He created you as you are for a reason. And our part remains to accept who we are, celebrate who others are, and strive to live our best selves in balance and beauty with those around us.
In doing that, we accomplish our purpose. To God be the glory.