Life & Relationships

Being An Introvert In An Extrovert’s World

Melody Copenny

 

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:

  • Know who you are: Take time to understand who God made you as an introvert and what strengths this gives you. Read books on introversion, listen to podcasts and develop yourself. Introversion is a gift, not a deficit.
  • Respect your wiring: Introverts can easily get overstimulated and lose energy due to loud noises, overworked minds and interactions with others. Having adequate time to recharge is essential. Rest is important — Jesus endorsed it and He frequently took time to do it.
  • Explain your introversion to extroverts in your life: Bring awareness about being an introvert. Doing so can help extroverts better connect with you in personal and professional spaces.

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 center and finish the work I was called there to do.

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:

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