Question: I Feel Bad For Being An Introvert



Two anonymous questions:

– I have two questions related to introversion: 1) When people start praying out loud, I get distracted, weirded out and don’t know what to say, so I just pray in my head. My mom says it’s something I have to correct. Is it? 2) Any tips on how to embrace my introversion and just be me? I’ve always felt misunderstood my whole life. I just want to be comfortable in my own skin without letting society’s standards pressure me.

– I’m starting college this fall and it seems the closer it gets, the more anxious I’m becoming. I’m an introverted person naturally but I want to be confident about making new friends. Even so, I end up doubting and convincing myself that everyone is just ‘better’ than me just because they are outgoing. I even get anxious that I didn’t choose the college God wants me to go to, which is dumb. I want to have faith in his plan and become secure based on the fact that God loves me, but I feel stuck.

 

Hello fellow introverts.  I’m glad we found each other.

You need to know first that there is nothing wrong with being introverted. 

God made you this way for a good reason — you can trust Him on that one.  As I’ve heard a fellow pastor say, God made you the way you are because He wanted to say something to the world that He couldn’t say through anyone else.

Some time ago, I wrote a post on introverts that got a response which I wasn’t prepared for.  I honestly had little idea that so many felt the same way: hamstrung by over-thinking, taking a long time to process things, staying quiet in Bible studies and small groups, and feeling sort of ashamed about it all.  I’m not really into labels — I think they can hurt us — but many, many people self-identify as introverted because they’re not sure how else to explain themselves.



Churches — and society in general — have a bias FOR extroverts and a bias against introverts.  It’s bound to happen.  You’ll be called moody, depressed, emo, hermit, indecisive, lazy, lethargic, apathetic, uncaring, and the ever dreadful shy.  But really we’re just misunderstood.  

I’ve come to accept my introversion over many years and have relaxed a lot more about myself, but many still feel like it’s “wrong.”  Dear friends: it is not.  And the irony here is: you’ll have to overcome your introversion to explain your introversion.  At some point you must open up to share what’s going on inside.

Please know that it takes a while for most people (especially extroverts) to understand us.  You’ll have to explain some of your habits.  Every introvert is different. And don’t worry if someone doesn’t understand right away: be persistent and consistent about explaining yourself.  Explain your heart completely without letting anyone interrupt you or overpower you.  This is important.  Please don’t avoid this conversation, because you will need to communicate like this your whole life.

If your friends or family reject you or ridicule you, it’s fine.  You tried and you can try again.  Other Christians need to learn that God wires people very differently for His purposes, and this will be a chance for them and for you to see that.

You’ll also need to sift through your own motives and recognize that introversion cannot be an excuse to cover your agenda.  It’s true that we take time to process things, but that can’t be an excuse for laziness or inaction.  It’s true that we remain quiet in group settings, but that can’t be an excuse to remain cynical and sour. 

 

As for gaining confidence: I feel like we set unfair standards on ourselves about what “confidence” really means.  We see a macho muscular dude who appears so sure of himself and then we play the comparison-game — but we don’t know what’s going on in his mind and comparison doesn’t help you anyway.  For all we know, this guy could be faking his grin or stuffing his shirt.

Have you considered just embracing your awkwardness and uncertainty?  And then just making decisions anyway?  I really don’t know anyone who is 100% for-sure on anything, and I doubt any of us have waited for some confidence-bar to fill up all the way before making decisions.  Not even the macho buff dude does that. 

Maybe you don’t know if this new person you just met will be your friend.  Take the chance anyway.  Maybe you don’t know if this girl wants to have lunch with you.  Take the chance anyway.  Maybe you’re scared to hit up that church event.  Go anyway.  You don’t have to wait for the fear to subside.  Often fear is obliterated by the very act of deciding and doing. 

The more you can act in spite of yourself — you’ll suddenly find that none of your worst fears are all that bad.  The sky doesn’t fall on you and your pants don’t spontaneously disappear (if that’s happened, I’m so sorry).  True confidence is just going for it anyway.  Emotions are a good fuel at best and unreliable at their worst.  Your emotions are real, yes, but they can’t determine your decisions. As determination wins, it gets easier every time.

Whether you fall on your face or not: God loves you, and no conditions apply.  He sent His very own Son for you to cover your sin, to defeat the devil, to secure you back to God, and to give you daily grace for all your anxiety and afflictions.  In Christ, God doesn’t see your performance or the insecurity or the clumsiness or the doubt.  He sees you wanting to come out to play, and He is graciously calling you forward to receive His joy and peace.  So come out to play.  Don’t wait another minute on that. 

Who God has called you to be is the you that you’ve been wanting to be all along.

 

“It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.”

— C.S. Lewis

 

— J.S.

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14 thoughts on “Question: I Feel Bad For Being An Introvert

  1. I love how you explained this J.S. My daughter is an introvert. She is also called to ministry. Navigating the waters of working with people and finding alone time to process and distress has been her greatest challenge.

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    1. I can feel when the battery is draining too. Hopefully there’s more understanding towards introverts now than there ever has been. But even extroverts need to unplug.

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    2. Yes. I am an introvert in ministry and am trying to figure out the balance of alone time and in person people time (social media is great because that doesn’t drain me as fast :). It is quite the challenge and even after 8 months I still feel like I don’t get it right most of the time. I’ve had to learn to be very intentional about setting aside times just for me.

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      1. Hah, I totally relate about the social media. Sometimes it’s addictive & dehumanizing (like anything else), but when used rightly can create the exact distance we need to communicate.

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    1. Interestingly, Scot McKnight wrote an article about how introverts see Jesus as an introvert and extroverts sees Jesus as an extrovert. McKnight made a survey which proved his point. I think Jesus exhibited both qualities, maybe not evenly, but enough to suggest that he was able to socially interact on every level. Most of us can’t go from government officials to the blind to the beggars to prostitutes all in a day’s work.

      http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/april/15.22.html?paging=off

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  2. I loved and respect that you included the concept that introversion can’t be an excuse for laziness. My pastor himself is an introvert. He talked all about it Sunday. We are all beautiful in God’s eyes. 🙂

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    1. Agreed! Even those in the spotlight can be introverts. And yes, it can never be an excuse for selfishness — but I haven’t met too many introverts that want to make it an excuse. Mostly they’re just pressured to be more extroverted, which is damaging.

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      1. It is that question of remaining true to who God created me to be yet knowing when He is asking me to go beyond my comfort zone without abandoning my God given personality. Sounds confusing even to me.

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