The Power of the Introvert…And the Extrovert

If you have ever interacted with me in person, you know that I am an introvert. Quiet as I internally process, passionate enough about certain things to speak out, needing time alone or with only one or two people in order to “recharge my battery”. I first learned about the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory in college when my campus ministry discipleship team was assigned to take it. Having studied psychology as a minor I was familiar with personality tests, but was very curious when I sat down with the career counselor who administered the test to talk about my results. She explained to me for the first time the difference between extroversion and introversion, the first continuum on the inventory. It went beyond just being outgoing verses quiet, but rather had to do with the way we process, take in information, find our energy and make decisions.

I was amazed. I had often wondered why some people could be called on randomly in class and work up an answer on the spot, and why I would think through an answer and be ready to give it only to find the discussion had moved on to another topic. I wondered why I would enjoy myself thoroughly at a floor event or with my friends hanging out, but need to retreat to the computer lab for some alone time or just to chat one-on-one with my roommate with our door closed. For the first time I realized that there wasn’t something wrong with me, that I wasn’t less than ideal.

Since then, I have discovered there are other introverts in the world! I have read several books and discovered how even the extroverted and introverted brains are different in the path that signals go and how quickly or slowly the blood flows.

To me, all of this points to a Creator God who enjoys diversity and makes each of us different yet beautiful in his eyes. Although our culture tends to value one personality type over the other, God sees each of us as important and there is value in both types and the amazing variety that can happen along the continuum of introversion and extroversion.

We need to celebrate this diversity and recognize the need to understand not only ourselves but one another. Much has been written as of late about the power of introverts and how to survive in an extroverted world. I have found some very empowering ideas in these books especially as I learn more about the physiological aspect, but these should not spur me on to demonize extroverts or play the victim.

We are called to serve one another, which means we need to understand how to help those who are different from us thrive. I appreciate when people know that even if I don’t speak up right away it doesn’t mean that I don’t have an opinion or don’t know how to form one. It helps me when people don’t feel sorry for me when I need to retreat but allow me space for quiet even if we are in the same room. In turn, I can learn to listen well as an extrovert processes outloud and comes to a conclusion through a  much different method than I would have, and perhaps learn good questions to help them process. If they need to go to a party or stay up way past midnight talking because their passionate juices have really gotten flowing, then I need to allow them to do that and perhaps sleep in the next morning.

One is not better than the other, nor can we simply put a label on one another. I want to strive to better understand and celebrate the amazing diversity that God has given us while letting Him shine the light on who He has uniquely created me to be.

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