There’s a few things the internet doesn’t need any more of. Open letters, for example. Elsa pictures.
There’s something about saturation that can make us weary, or even angry. Something that once was cute, or original, or important starts to make us twitch the more we see it. I have read some brilliant open letters in the past, but these days I fear it’s only a matter of time before I turn on my computer and see “Dear woman with the curly hair driving the scratched Fiesta…”.
And there’s something about enthusiasm, evangelical fervour, popularity even, that can be curiously off-putting. We feel like giving up faith, say, or breastfeeding, in reaction to the intensity of those who share our practice.
One of my favourite topics of conversation is personality types and tests like Myers-Briggs and the Enneagram, and particularly Introversion. Understanding myself as an introvert has, and is, one of the most important factors in how I live my life.
But when a friend texted me recently saying: “I think I’ll become an introvert, they’re taking over the world”, I started to wonder, is one more post about introversion the last thing the internet needs? Have we got Introvert-fatigue?
Back in the day, I read about introversion like it was some big secret. Back when Philip Yancey books were steadying my soul in the garden, one of the reasons I felt this weird commonality with him was in the way he wrote about his personality, his slowness, his thought-process. He was the only person I ever read who was writing about being an introvert and I thought me too, me too.
My ears picked up any time I heard it being discussed.
Even 4 years ago Susan Cain’s TED talk, and subsequently her book, healed and inspired me so much because it wasn’t being talked about.
When my mind is healthy I know that my gifting, my truest parts, my best offerings all come from being an introvert – from slow, well-brewed thoughts and feelings, from paying attention.
But on a daily basis that mind gets frazzled and rushed and the thing it notices is people around me doing life faster and smoother and smarter, and I feel less-than.
When my soul is healthy I know that it needs stillness, time, good books, prayer and rest to stay that way. Yet when I hear those words “Are you free on Thursday night?” something in me still believes that the only acceptable no is the ‘Busy No’… No because I’m at an Event, No because I’m meeting someone else, No because I’m doing some kind of work.
I need those introvert articles and memes and comic strips to simply remind me that I am a person who recharges by being alone, and that I am not the only one, and that I do not have to go anywhere on Thursday night.
(Source: Quiet Revolution)
I’ll be honest, because I’m an introvert, the text my friend sent “recently” was actually about a year ago. This post has sat, unfinished, for a long time. I would read it, now and again, and wonder what my point was. Since then I have been doing the work with Brené Brown, I have started seeing a Spiritual Director and I have become a bit of an Enneagram-geek (that is a whole other post!). These things are adding depth and dimension (and even discomfort) to my understanding of shame, true self and the things that get in the way.
I have also come to understand that it is not just introverts who feel the pressure of the “acceptable no”, or whose lives are damaged by too much hustle. Gemma’s lovely Ode to Margin resonates with most of us, I imagine.
So I do not celebrate my introversion over your extroversion. Thursday nights are for solitude and conversation, pottering and dancing, saying yes and saying no. I do not click on all the introvert articles anymore (I probably get sent a few too many ‘saw this and thought of you’ ones, these days). But, regularly, I just need a reminder, you know?
Some of my Introvert Favourites
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
by Susan Cain
Susan Cain TED talk
Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture
by Adam S. McHugh
Can Introverts Be Part of the Revolution? by Addie Zierman
Why Slowing Down Your Kid’s Schedule Can Be A Good Thing by Brian Gresko