Last post I referred to how difficult I think it must be to be both an activist and an introvert.
I’ve spent much of my life believing that, what I now realise is a totally valid and legitimate part of my personality, was a unpleasant and embarrasing disability that should be railed against with all my might until I started to enjoy spending lots and lots of time with other people, dammit.
You see, I grew up in a household that consisted of two parents; one of whom was, and indeed is, crazy for the social life. Many friends, life full of social engagements, you know the type (Hell, you probably ARE the type). The other parent was the one who didn’t really enjoy spending time with other people. He didn’t have many close friends and would always choose to not go to social events if he could possibly get out of it. When he did go, may I point out that he totally rocked any social gathering, but he would just rather not have been there in the first place.
So I was raised with the belief that one of my parents was good and happy and sociable, and one was anti-social, didn’t really need friends and was, therefore, less worthy ( a claim that he readily made. He often warned me to ‘not turn out like him’).
As you can imagine, wedded bliss did not ensue. (On what I’d like to pretend is a completely unrelated point, can I just say that if there’s anyone currently involved in the whole ‘let’s stay together for the children’ school of marriage and child-raising then….don’t. That’s all. Just don’t. Rip off the band aid and move on rather than put your children through 20 years of misery. Seriously)
So I’ve spent my whole life believing that the fact that I really, really don’t enjoy parties, that I don’t have a huge list of friends that I can hang out with at a moments notice and that I’d much rather spend a whole weekend at home instead of leaving the property was ‘less-than’ and something that I should fight against. Which is a fairly exhausting way to live, can I point out.
It was about a year ago that I was having a conversation with someone (can’t remember who, sadly) and I was gleefully recounting my recent experience of spending time in another city; not telling anyone that I was there and spending a wonderful evening reading in bed and ordering room service. It was shortly after an incredibly difficult time in my life, and the memory of this warm, dark (5 star, mind you) cocoon I still remember fondly.
Anyway, the person I was talking to said “Ah, you’re an introvert, I see’, which I was a bit affronted by, I’ve got to say. An introvert is a very quiet, mousey person and I am an absolute hoot once I get my mojo on, to be honest. It may be a bit like pulling teeth to actually get me there, but once I arrive then I pretty much carry the party. I’m that good 😉
The label of ‘introvert’ got me thinking and, of course, reading. And I was staggered. Absolutely floored by what I found. I wasn’t a socially retarded misanthrope who just had to try harder to be like ‘everyone else’. I was legitimate!!
I AM AN INTROVERT, AND EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OK!
An introvert such as myself is exhausted by other people. It’s as if they actually suck the energy out of us. Extroverts get their energy from interactions with others; a concept that makes me feel a bit sick to be honest. For replenishment, introverts must be away from others. It’s not an abnormality or a failing, it’s just another way of being. I’m not a recluse or a misfit- my career is one in which I’m constantly surrounded by others and have to be ‘on’ all day. But theres no way on earth I could go out to a group dinner on a work day. Euch.
This does, believe it or not, have a bearing on my journey with faith.
I’ve always, at heart, been an activist, but it’s always been more in my heart than any where else. Anywhere else actually useful (Is that even possible? Is that like theoretically being a runner but not, you know, running?). But being an activist in our society; fighting for change, standing up and being counted, rallying the call for arms, is a nice added extra if you can swing it, but not really required. If you do it then that’s all well and good but it’s fairly low down the list for most people.
If I fully embraced Christianity, then I’d have to embrace full blown activism. I don’t see anyway around it. If you believe that Jesus was here, telling us how to behave, and then dying for his beliefs, then how can you not fight? Fight for the poor and the needy and the neglected and the hungry. How can you not get right in the face of governments and individuals and, well, everyone?
Meeting with people, organising them in my own time, being surrounded by the needy and the sick, trying to do good. That scares the absolute tripe out of me.
I don’t feel bad about being an introvert. I’m fine with that. I just don’t want it to mean that I’m a coward as well.