I have been an introvert since forever, and by the grace of God I am learning to come out of my shell more and use my introversion as a strength. To be honest, for a long time my introversion was a thorn in my side. I desired a social life but the awkwardness I felt in social gatherings overwhelmed me to the point of anxiety (blame Social Anxiety Disorder if you want). I had my first anxiety attack in 6th grade at a school dance. But the devil is a Liar and I no longer have anxiety attacks. So, while I praise the Lord for my deliverance, I use my testimony to shine some light on the dark places introverts love to keep hidden. I’ve come up with a list of several things introverts like to do to avoid contact with people, some silly, some serious. Yes, I’m going to tell on myself and some of you other introverts out there. Sorry not sorry. Of course, there are exceptions to this. I know introverts that have extrovert tendencies, and I know extroverts that have introvert traits. This article is for those like myself, that hardly ever exhibit extrovert traits and it literally takes a miracle for them to break out of it. Now I couldn’t reveal everything, but here are a few:
#1: We want to have more friends.
Most introverts only have one or maybe two friends that they 93.988776% trust to tell everything to. However, we do want to make more friends because our one or two friends have other friends to spend time with, and sometimes we don’t want to be alone. Plus, networking is an awesome thing and connecting with people can connect you to opportunity. As an introvert, I know these things, yet dread the process. Social media is our biggest enabler. We spend hours on social media “connecting” to people that we hardly speak to in real life…because it makes us nervous.
#2: We ignore or avoid people we actually want to speak to.
If we must speak to someone about something that we don’t know well, it’s usually difficult to do. We will exhaust every other means and still dread when the day comes to speak in person or even on the phone. For example, I needed to talk to a minister that is also a Psychologist about education since I, too, am going into that field. It took several attempts but I finally mustered up the courage after church service one Sunday. My heart was racing and I was probably bright red. Knees weak, Palms were sweaty.
#3: We wear dark clothes because we don’t want to be noticed.
I LOVE BLACK CLOTHES. They’re slimming; and for the same reason that they are slimming I wear them to just not be noticed overall. It’s like a security blanket for adults. Why would I want to wear bright or bold colors if I plan to stay unnoticed in the shadows? Counterproductive, duh. So, I would regularly wear black to hide. I still hide, but not as well since I added color to the mix.
#3b: We avoid social gatherings that require dressing up
Dressing up means looking fancy and such, and who wants to be fancy at a social event when you want to pretend you don’t exist?! Best believe I know how to dress up, but the process of doing so seems redundant since I’d typically be hiding in the back. Sometimes that also involves showing up late simply because it took us forever to actually decide if we were going. If it was required, we get there early so we can get the best seats (in the back) before anyone else comes to steal our joy.
#3c: We sneak out of places, events, gatherings quietly to avoid the “Goodbyes.”
I hate goodbyes. They’re awkward for unknown reasons, sometimes they are emotional. At church, for example, I used to just walk out and leave. Now I try to randomly wave and say, “bye guys,” and jet out the door. Progress. Some people I genuinely love so I’ll give them a personal goodbye. I see other people leave with a loud and noticeable “BYE EVERYONE!” and everyone turns and says bye and goes back to what they were doing. Why would I want to interrupt that? Lol. So, I creep.
#4: We tell ourselves we’re happy with Netflix at home on a Friday night.
Netflix and chill to an introvert literally means that we’re going to watch Netflix all night and eat junk food on our beds with no regard to time or the sensation of fullness. We scroll social media and look wantonly at all the people out in the streets and having fun and yada, yada, yada. We want to go out, but that involves getting dressed mentally and physically. Too large a task. Netflix doesn’t judge for my lack of clothing.
#5: We hate the spotlight because we fear embarrassment
Ah, the dreadful spotlight (or microphone, etc.) As a teacher, I find irony in the fact that I hate being in the spotlight but it’s required if I’m going to teach. This was why I needed deliverance. It’s difficult to make eye contact, so I look over everyone’s head which is an amazing feat in itself. I used to keep my eyes down. On anything that was down. It’s as if making eye contact with someone in the crowd would demolish the walls we built up.
#6: Our dating lives suffer
Refer to #2. We prefer online interactions because responses can be more thought out, and we feel more in control and less vulnerable. It’s also easier to show interest without the person on the other side seeing how awkward we are. Yet, since I’ve sworn off ALL online dating (see my article Love and Tinderness), the chances of meeting someone in person are slim, without the blood of Jesus. If we have any interest of someone we tend to avoid (especially avoid eye contact) or keep interactions short and sweet. It’s a defense mechanism because we fear rejection. If the person isn’t interested then we won’t care as much because we didn’t put in any effort. We almost always want them to make the first move.
#7: We act like fools when we are alone or with a trusted friend/partner but not around others
Even when everyone around is being goofy or playing games, we sit out. A purposefully little-known fact: I can imitate some accents, but ask me to do it in front of people the answer is NO. One things I always heard from my exes is that I was one of few women that could make them laugh. (But they were liars so who knows how true it is). Most of us also refuse to dance. Back in the day I used to get paid to dance (that’ll be another article) it’s certainly not going to happen now. I put my back into it too many times and now I got back problems.
#8: WE HATE TAKING GROUP PICTURES
Oh, but we love a selfie! I always look like a nervous wet dog in group photos. I avoided them at all cost. With encouragement from peers and Holy Spirit, I’ve been taking more pictures. You can point me out effortlessly, I usually have “help me,” written in my eyes.
Now of course these may not be true for every single introvert, but they’re true for me. They say to get help with something you first have to admit you have a problem. My antisocial introvert behavior has been in the way. So, I’ve taken a few steps to get that help. Of course, there are wonderful aspects of being an introvert. We are very selective about friends and who we talk to. We save money by staying home and switching to Geico. We don’t mind eating alone. Most enjoy and welcome solitude and in that solitude, find rest and rejuvenation (Praise the Lord). We are big thinkers, constantly evaluating ourselves and others, and in turn we are usually slow to speak. Before we converse with anyone we’ve probably had the conversation 93874 times in our head before it takes place. So, we’re almost always prepared, but the anxiety can still be burdensome.
I decided to write about these things so that it will become a footstool. I can use my “weakness” as a step to catapult me forward. I keep what I need and discard what God says to leave behind. The enemy can’t use things like this as a weapon if you’re using it as a footstool, it will not prosper. Through this reflection, I see that I have a way to go, I also know that since I have said “Yes,” to God, He is taking this and other parts of me and doing as He pleases. Although it’s uncomfortable and at times I want to reject it, I am reminded of the many men and women in the bible that went through dramatic transitions. I’m doing my best to welcome these changes.