• Kari

Mad Dash For The Door

When it comes up in conversation that I am introverted, I am usually met with comments such as "No way! You're so friendly!" or "Are you sure? You're so outgoing" as if I am somehow inventing my floundering introspection. This is a common misunderstanding about introverts, that we don’t like people. That's not the case at all! I love people, it’s just they make me completely exhausted. I cannot handle small talk, but sign me up for those long, meaningful conversations. Just please don't throw me into a crowd of strangers without me being able to mentally prepare. This includes malls (praise God for Amazon), carnivals, and parties. I love going to parties and usually have a lot of fun, until I don't. I have recently learned to realize my limits and know when to start my exit strategy so I don't need to make a mad dash for the door.

I make small talk when I have to, but always crave more authentic conversation. From what I can tell, people usually feel comfortable around me, and I can easily get others talking and opening up about themselves. When I'm out with friends, I feel a sense of duty to make sure everyone’s having a good time. I can sense others emotions radiating off of them and usually will go out of my way to make sure people are comfortable. Still, most people don’t realize how “in my head” I am. Although I may appear easy-going, my mind is always racing. Like a computer with 32 tabs open at the same time, I live in my head. They like me here.

Another thing, text me. I can express myself way better in written words. It may be because I don't mind long pauses in my conversations, or because I cannot read a person easily when we aren't face to face, but I hate talking on the phone. Even if it is with my best friends, I feel so amazingly awkward when I'm chatting on the phone. My good friends know this, so if they call I will pick up because I know they need something important and won't judge me too harshly on my quirky conversation. Not all conversations are created equally. Small talk with someone is really tough for me. It takes all of my energy to think of how to be engaging and meaningful, and I usually end up walking away wondering if that person will ever try to speak to me again. My thoughts sound way better in my head than what usually exits my mouth. Not all conversations wear me out though. Talking about a very meaningful topic of something that is close to my heart can give me energy and set my soul on fire.

When coming home from my long day at work, the last thing I usually want to do is jump right in to conversation. With three kids, two dogs, and a husband, that is not always easy to avoid. Usually some combination of tiny human and canine is greeting me at the door. And while I am so very thankful for any combination of this, I am not always prepared to jump right in. To limit the frustration for all of us, I do often let them know that Mama needs 5 minutes. (Or more, depending on the day.) I take that time to regroup so that I can be a much better version of myself for them, rather than being overwhelmed and frustrated. There are more times than not when I need to let my ever vocal 12 year old know that "too many words" are happening and to "land your plane". Thankfully, they understand this side of me and do not take offense. Jordan has even learned to keep me updated with our conversations and let me know he needs to say "two more things" and we will be done. I love my kids and talking with them. I want to hear all of what they have to say, so that is all the more reason for me to regroup or let them know if I am feeling depleted so that I can make sure I am completely present for them. Having a full time job and kids that have to get to school very early, my week days start at 4:30 am. I usually pull into the driveway around 5 pm, only to pull back out around 15 minutes later most evenings. Dance practices, friend's houses, youth group (that I teach the high school girls and my children also attend), Small group, and school events usually only give me one night a week to come home from work and if I am lucky have a few minutes to unwind before falling into bed later than I expected to. In this season of life, I am scheduling photo-shoots or Weddings on Saturdays for some extra Christmas money so that does not leave a lot of down time for this introverted Mama. Please be patient with me.

I've come to realize that while I always thought of being an introvert as a negative thing that it has it's strengths as well. After all, in my opinion, Jesus was an introvert.

Wikipedia's description of an introvert is:

Introverts are typically perceived as more reserved or reflective. Some popular psychologists have characterized introverts as people whose energy tends to expand through reflection and dwindle during interaction.

He was alone in prayer before he walked on the water: "Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd.  After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake." Matthew 14:22-25

Before Jesus fed the five thousand, He was recharging: "He withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick."

Matthew 14:13-14

On the most emotional night of his life, he chose to go be alone with only the support of His closest friends (an introverted trait): "Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me." 

Matthew 26:36-38

While this may not be anything more than hopeful observation, it's another example to me of how Jesus can relate to what I am going through. Introverts are deep thinkers, great listeners, have more intimate connections, are self-sufficient, are very observant, and are easy to be around. Sure we can be a bit mysterious, challenging at times, and need some time to recharge, but we will balance out your life. Hug an introvert today. (If they let you.)

But, I still have to say that I love canceled plans. ;)