I’m an introvert. But I’m not a Misunderstood-Super-Special-Unicorn because I’m an introvert.
Last year, there were so many blog posts about “how to take care of an introvert”, “what is an introvert”, and “what makes an introvert special”. They got on my nerves, even though I saw truth in the posts, because the posts glorified introversion to the detriment of extroverts.
What is an introvert? Introverts recharge alone. Extroverts recharge with other people. Being an introvert doesn’t mean that you hate people. It means that being with people takes your energy instead of renewing it.
I like extroverts. I’m married to an extrovert. Extroverts make my life better because they’re way more fun than I am. They help stretch me as a person because their perspective is so different than mine. Sometimes, the extroverts in my life don’t really get where I’m coming from, but, let’s face it, I don’t get them either.
The Bible doesn’t say anything (to my knowledge) about how introverts just need the world to understand them better. The Bible does, however, talk about people being differently-gifted and how they should use those gifts to honor God (1 Cor. 12). No gift is more “special” than another, and God uses them all. So, introverts, it’s time to turn in that introvert gold-star.
Most of these posts are focused on how other people can care for an introvert. “Make them a pillow fort and leave them alone” works sometimes, but the focus of the posts make it seem like introverts aren’t responsible for self-care. News-flash world: I’m an introvert, and if I need some alone time, I need to ask for it. If Husband-Man (one of the world’s biggest extroverts ever) needs to go out and be around humans, it’s his job to initiate that interaction.
So how does an introvert take care of themselves without being self-indulgent?
- When you need alone time, take it. When your friend calls and asks you to hang out , if all of your “social-time” budget (IE, you’re full of people) has been maxed out, it’s okay to say “no” and ask to schedule for a different time. Side-note: Don’t flake on your commitments all the time. Hold true to your word and time commitments if you can.
- Use your alone time for good. Don’t spend it all in self-indulgent pursuits. Instead, focus on growing your relationship with God. I’m not saying don’t read for fun or have hobbies, but don’t spend all of your alone time on things that don’t have eternal ramifications.
- Get out of your own head. It’s really easy for me to think about what’s going on in my life, and to fixate on the negative. Then begins the downward spiral of self perpetuating sadness. The Bible tells us to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 5:10), and wallowing in self pity doesn’t fit that bill. Think about what’s going on in your life, and keep going. God is good even when you get caught up in your own head. God is good when things don’t look like they’re going your way (Romans 10:18-30).
- Get the heck out of the house. Make friends with some extroverts and go somewhere and do something out of the norm. Remember that part in the Bible that says to not neglect meeting together with other Christians (Heb. 10:25)? Introverts are not exempt. Get out there and be friends with people.
- Don’t hate on extroverts. They’re just as important as you are, and your life would be crazy boring without them.
Who wants to form a Reformed Misunderstood-Super-Special-Unicorn-Introverts Club? I’ll be there. Even though it involves being around other people. Because that’s actually really good for me.