Besides the infamous ladder (http://www.bogw.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-best-gift-ever.html) that I received for Christmas from the wife, I also received a book. The book has been used more than the ladder so far. The book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, is one that when the wife saw it she immediately thought was perfect for me. I am an introvert.
Of course, since I started reading the book this past week, the wife has kept asking me what it is all about. Not just once, but constantly. All I do is point at the title on the book jacket. She just doesn’t get it . . . I am an introvert.
I have been an introvert my whole life. I enjoy being by myself, but that does not mean that I do not enjoy being with others. I just prefer my company over the company of many . . . I like to handle people in small doses as opposed to huge gatherings. Most of the things that I enjoy doing are things that people do by themselves . . . reading, photography, and writing to name a few. I can handle being alone. It is okay, I can entertain myself.
My introversion kind of throws people off. It throws people off when it comes to the career that I chose to pursue in life—the ministry. Ministers have to deal with people . . . ministers have to preach in front of crowds . . . ministers have to deal with more people. Churches want extroverted pastors because they come across as aggressive, strong, and engaging—that is what they see on television with all of the mega-churches. It is the American dream. So, what in the world am I doing in the ministry? Well, because there is more than one model of ministry that is quite effective, but the loudest are the ones that get heard. Extroverts are loud. My being in the ministry kind of throws people off because I am not the life of the party, the loudest pundit from the pulpit, or the most outgoing . . . but, most of the congregations I have served would tell you that I have been a good minister to them.
I think that my children knew that I am an introvert, but I don’t think that they were quite aware of what that meant because growing up they were too busy living their lives. Now, as adults, when they have had to spend time with me for more than a few minutes, they have learned that I am an introvert. I don’t care to chit-chat too much. I think that this drives my oldest son a little crazy on our drives home from the big city after work. Outside of a few cursory remarks and questions, I prefer the quiet over the conversation after a long day at work and dealing with people. No conversation, no radio . . . nothing. He is an extrovert, like his mother, and has come to learn (like the other children) that if he wants to have a conversation he has his mother to shoot the breeze.
We live in a society in which extroversion is the prize and the goal. Introverts are second class citizens in this understanding of what is important. This has been going on for quite some time, and we introverts are okay with it. We are not “bad” people, we are just quiet. Quiet is often misinterpreted . . . some consider us shy . . . some think that we are stuck-up . . . some think that we have some sort of grave psychological problem that makes us a threat to the rest of society. I have been branded with all of those labels over the years. I can assure you that I am not shy . . . I’m just quiet. I am not stuck-up, I have nothing to be stuck-up about. And, I am definitely not suffering from deep psychological malady or phobia. I just like the quiet world that exists within the rock garden I call my mind.
So, here’s the skinny . . . I am who I am . . . I am an introvert and all that being an introvert encompasses. I live in a world that is full of extroverts—hey, I married one! The society I live in values extroverts, views introverts as being different and second class citizens—but, hey! That is their problem. I am comfortable being by myself . . . I can entertain myself . . . I am great company. I like people, but I like taking my time in getting to know them, and, as I get to know them better and personally, I enjoy their company—but only in spurts. As an introvert I need my time of recovery from hanging out in the world of extroverts. Extroverts wear me out. There is nothing wrong with me . . . I just won’t tell you. I prefer the quiet. Someday the wife will get it . . . in the meantime, well . . . shhhhhh!