I stood quietly behind the door of a bathroom stall. Toilets flushed around me, and women chatted excitedly as they washed their hands.
It was the only spot I could find to be alone in the SMX Convention Center. More than 13,000 people were gathered for the 40th Asia Pacific Dental Congress.
That dimly lit stall was an unusual place to retreat. But it gave me solitude — something I desperately needed.
I was 9,097 miles away from home, covering a writing assignment in Metro Manila, Philippines, an area bustling with 12.8 million people.
My excitement about being in a new place soon began to collide with the depletion of energy I often experience as an introvert.
This bathroom escape indicated I needed more than I had inside of me to finish my trip well.
I’m learning more about my introversion and that it’s not so much about relational confidence and being shy.
Introversion is about where you get your energy.
For introverts, energy comes in quiet moments alone — to rest, reflect and replenish our reserves. Extroverts often get their energy through connections with other people.
My introversion is a gift from God, just like my tall height and beautiful brown skin. As a socially extroverted introvert, I thrive in various settings, but eventually, my energy will begin to run low if I don’t have time to myself.
Being responsible to better understand and care for my introversion helps me experience life more powerfully.
But being an introvert isn’t easy.
There’s tension in our culture to be the one who’s seen the most and heard the fastest. To some, being extroverted means you’re more talented and even more competent than those who require time to compose their thoughts.
Susan Cain, author of the book, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” offers perspective.
“We’re told that to be great is to be bold, to be happy is to be sociable. We see ourselves as a nation of extroverts — which means that we’ve lost sight of who we really are. Depending on which study you consult, one third to one half of Americans are introverts — in other words, one out of every two or three people you know.”
That’s a powerful fact. And it means we can’t regard one personality as better than another.
I use “three introvert gems” to help me navigate life in an extroverted world:
The 10-minute bathroom retreat I took in Manila gave me just what I needed at that moment.
Caring for my introversion helped me step back into a busy convention
And I’m a healthier person now because I understand more of who I am.
Explore other resources to help you understand more about yourself and God:
serves as a journalist with Cru. She’s an Atlanta, Georgia, native and University of Georgia graduate with a bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism. She enjoys the intersection of creativity, theology and popular culture in her writing projects. Contact Melody at Melody.Copenny@cru.org.
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