I was nineteen when I first realized I was an introvert. I had joined a congressional campaign for the summer, and the campaign manager thought it would be beneficial for all staffers to take a Myers Briggs Type Indicator test.
INFP. (That's an introverted, intuitive, feeling, perceiver for anyone wondering!)
I was shocked.
I was known in high school as the "performer." I loved the stage. I was passionate and outspoken, not afraid to speak my mind. In college, I was no different. I boldly advocated for causes near and dear to my heart. I was the girl in pearls, marching to the beat of her own high heels.
So...how could I be an introvert?
To me, it seemed like a fault. In my mind, extroverts were fun, social, outgoing. Introverts were shy, self-centered, and indifferent. I couldn't be one of those people.
Or could I?
When I first read my results, I didn't understand the meaning of the word "introvert" which quite literally means "to turn inward." Through this exercise, I learned that being an introvert or extrovert isn't so much about your demeanor in social situations (though it can definitely have an effect on that); instead, it's more about the source of your energy. The extrovert turns outward for rejuvenation. The introvert turns inward.
It made complete sense.
Sure, I could perform on a stage, but when the curtain closed, I preferred unwinding at home to hitting the local Applebee's with fellow cast members.
And sure, I loved politics, and I could charm a room full of donors if I needed to, but at the end of the night, you wouldn't find me at the bar with the cool kids. You'd instead find me kicking off my heels and calling my boyfriend to tell him how things went.
I enjoy people, but on the whole, they wear me out. After a party, I am almost always completely drained and in desperate need of "me" time. I naturally turn inward, not outward.
And that, friends, is what makes me an introvert.
But why, you ask, does it matter?
Well, because God made me that way.
And He made me that way for a reason.
In the past seven years, I've learned that my introversion isn't something to overcome. It's a gift to be nurtured and protected.
God fearfully and wonderfully made me as an introvert. But first and foremost, he designed me not to turn inward, but upward. I've heard people argue that Jesus himself was an introvert because of how much he withdrew into isolation when he was here on earth. But over and over again as I read these accounts, I notice that Jesus wasn't necessarily turning inward. He was turning upward (Luke 5:16).
In the next post, I hope to dig into what it looks like to be an upward-focused introvert and to discuss some of the temptations and struggles that come with the introvert territory, as well as some of the great blessings. But for now, it's Friday night, and I need to unwind, so please excuse me as I curl up on the couch with a blanket, some ice cream, and an episode of Saved by the Bell. ;)