Introverts. Yes, the quiet bunch. You love them, but o how they can confuse you. “If she would just say something!” I imagine people think at times.
The definition of an introvert is: a shy, reticent (reserved/withdrawn) person. There you have it. We have been given this definition because that is how the world perceives us, and I don’t blame them. This is how introversion looks in large groups of people – reserved and withdrawn. Please believe me, even though we seem withdrawn that is not what we experience in a group situation. We are actually very much present and not reserved or withdrawn at all. In fact, after being present in any intense discussion or theatrical performance, for example, most introverts are exhausted. Why exhausted would you ask?
The make-up of our being works actively, consistently and ongoing. Our focus are within, within our minds and emotions. We engage, even though you can’t see or hear anything. That must be frustrating for you, I know, but please bear with us. First we inhale conversation and opinions, then we analyze and dissect, then we place and conclude. This happens daily. You would have known this if you could see our thoughts, which you can’t. Introverts think seventy times and then one more time before they would give their opinion. Even then, they might think again and say nothing at all.
This brings me to a certain fear most introverts struggle with …
You can imagine that if someone, anyone, spends a lots of time on preparing the answer to a question, they would like the answer to be correct … not so? Well, introverts have a fear, whether they realize it or not. The fear of not being understood, accepted or regarded.
I would not put this fear in the same category as a fear of rejection which most of us struggle with, in some stage of our lives. It is rather a calculated resistance towards vulnerability.
I’ve known about this resistance in me, on some level, for a long time. I just didn’t have a name for it. Who would like to admit that they are afraid to speak out? It’s embarrassing!
An introvert will never be an extrovert, but I believe introverts can live more freely by admitting and dealing with this. Our focus is inward and that is fine, but we have something to give, and people welcome it. They want to hear what we think.
This resistance to share, speak up or even perform can lock us in … with our permission of course. There is nothing wrong with thinking, analyzing and self-dialogue. There is times, though, when you must rather force yourself to say something or sing something, instead of delicately removing yourself from the discussion. Your body might start shaking and your voice start trembling, but afterwards you will feel better, more fulfilled and as you have conquered. Usually that very situation has played over in your mind a million times, and every time you dismissed the thought with “not now” or “I can’t”. The truth is: “you can” and it is this fear that binds you. Don’t let it.
Extroverts have another struggle … I believe. Their challenge is to stop and listen.
Isn’t it just wonderful how uniquely we were all created? If I could only help one introvert to overcome this resistance to share, it would make this piece worthwhile.
God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind. (2 Tim 1:7)
May you regard your God-given beauty, dear introvert, as much as God regards you in your beautiful complexity!
Written by Johanni Meiring
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