I don’t know about you but, for me, this ‘introvert’ thing ebbs and flows. Big time.
Some days, I wake up and think, “I haven’t gotten coffee with anyone in a while! Where are all the lovely peoples? I shall text every number in my contacts list until someone agrees to hang out with my inconsistent self!!!”
Other days, it’s: “I’m called into community. Jesus says to take up my cross. And going to church counts on this day.”
And, in still other, more dramatic moments, the concept of meeting people, seeing people, conversing like an adult human being with people and doing anything other than sitting in my tidy, earth-toned studio apartment is equivalent to putting my head in a bucket of spiders.
But the dear, valuable people in my life–friends, colleagues, family–don’t go through these phases. They expect (not wrongly) for me to be as glad to see them and as blessed by their presence on Tuesday, as on Saturday. How could they possibly know that I had a nasty phone call or busied myself with dramatic, unhelpful imagined-failure musing this morning? How could they know that surviving the holidays made me a world-class expert at falling of the edge of the planet for a
week month? They don’t. They shouldn’t. It’s not their problem.
These days, I see a lot of articles on “getting rid” of people who don’t understand you, who frustrate you, who disagree with you. There’s not much on disciplining the toddler inside me that refuses compromise, won’t enter other people’s worlds, and demands change from everyone but her screaming self. And when I expect to be friends with people, after indulging my introversion to the destruction of relationships, that’s more than less what I’m doing. I am choosing comfort over the trust developed, when someone chooses to show up in a relationship.
The fact is, if I want consistent community, I must be consistent.
The question then becomes: How do I live consistently without also being fake, draining my energy, torturing myself or denying my introversion unhealthily?
I Make A List
Hopefully, it doesn’t surprise or offend anyone that I do this. There are people I really want to get to know, that I know in my heart I would love to befriend, but my screaming inner toddler just wants to read blogs with all her free time…for the next week or so. So I put these names on a much-loved list, to remind her who is boss.
I Set A Reminder
On my phone. It reminds me to reach out to someone on that list, whether through FB, email, text, IG. On days when things are not going well, or I’m particularly stressed, I find that thinking about someone else provides a lovely respite from the madness.
I Pick Small
If presented with options, I usually go for one-on-one hang outs, or groups of 2 – 5. Large group events are wonderful, can have a remarkable energy and are absolutely necessary to community, but my strongest suit they are not. I am easily distracted by noise and movement (read: people), so getting through even small talk takes a lot of mental focus. Take that as you will. As such, if it’s not a group study, conference, wedding, service opportunity or something equally purposed, I skip and opt for coffee or a meal with a friend. I used to feel bad about this. Now, I just don’t.
I Say “Yes”
And figure the “how” out later. Even for me, reading that sentence feels totally counter-intuitive. BUT. Since developing rhythms for rest, reflection and reconnecting to God, I recover from social-exhaustion faster than I used to. As such, if I start saying “NO” to people, because I need to read, drink tea and have a quiet afternoon right now, it won’t take long for invites, relationships and community to desiccate. And, four days later, when I want to connect, no one will be available. So when I feel like barking out a “NO,” I take a beat, check my calendar and say, “I can do that.” Then, I formulate a soft plan for recharge and mental prep. It’s been a good choice for me. Plus, as I am an aspiring musician, it is madness to think that I can accomplish anything in the field without encountering events that pop up and are out of my comfort zone. C’est la vie.
But the main thing has been deciding the kind of community I want to cultivate in my life. I want friends who are consistent and others-aware. I must be the same. 🙂
Thanks for reading,