I'm Not Stuck Up, I'm Shy
Since mental health is figuring into my writing this month, I thought I would share another blog on something that is very close to my experience of life. I was a very, very shy kid, bookish and not at all inclined to go outside.
I had a couple of friends but didn't really seek out more, and I was quite pleased to play by myself. I had a great imagination and never really questioned why it was unusual to want to be alone.
Flash forward about 30 years and I became much less shy because I was entering into pastoral ministry. Having to speak in public will do amazing things for your ability to overcome shyness or fear.
Eventually I became very adept at making conversation with strangers, sharing information about myself and asking questions of others. Most people now are surprised to hear me say I was a shy kid, or that I am an introvert.
You've heard people say there are two kinds of people in the world, and then complete that statement with some comparison. Well for me, there are two kinds of people in the world; extroverts and introverts. The extrovert is the person who can spend all day in a crowd and feel energized, but when they are alone they feel down.
As an introvert I am the opposite. Spending time in public is what depletes my energy, so going home to be alone is what energizes me. Many pastors are introverts, which surprises people. It can be done, but it takes balance. Most of the introverted pastors I know take naps on Sundays.
I recently read a book called Quiet, all about the differences between extroverts and introverts. Believe it or not, there is scientific evidence to support the differences in brain function between the two.
It's not just shyness, it's the way we are programmed, if you will. Because we are quiet and observant, introverts are often more sympathetic or empathetic toward others. I suppose that is why pastors who are introverts can be good at one to one visits and conversations.
I consider myself an introvert with extrovert tendencies,which is an actual thing, and this is why I can preach and teach but also spend hours just listening to people or sitting by a hospital bedside with no conversation at all.
Think of those people you know who seem shy or maybe even distant. Perhaps they are introverts and by the same token, those people who are so loud or high energy are probably extroverts. If you find yourself on one end of the spectrum or other you can probably appreciate the commonalities I have mentioned.
I would encourage you to do more reading on the subject because it truly is an indicator of how very different we can be and why it pays to understand.