On Learning to Be Weird, Or Me

“Be weird. Be random. Be who you are.

Because you never know who would love

the person you hide.” –Unknown

 

Up until now, I have mainly kept my posts light-hearted and fun, but in this post, I want to get into the nitty-gritty things about being an introvert in what we introverts feel is a world made for extroverts.

For a long time, I thought there was something wrong with me because I didn’t always want to be around people. A lot of people thought I was weird for always being alone and having my nose in a book or they thought I was a jerk when I turned down invitations to do things for no other reason than that I just wanted to stay home. And if they didn’t think I was a jerk, they thought I was depressed, or that I was upset about something that I wasn’t telling them about.

In high school, I felt so much pressure to be busy all the time and to always say yes when people asked me to do things.

  • I spent every week day away from home from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Wednesdays I would be gone until 10:30 p.m. because of church and I always talked to people afterwards
  • In the fall I had marching band Friday nights and all day Saturday
  • And I spent practically all day on Sundays at church until late at night

And I still felt like I had to do more.

On top of being busy, I was also extremely insecure. I hated that I was shy and introverted and wished I could be someone else.

By the time I graduated and got to college, I was extremely exhausted in every area of life, and I knew something had to change. I knew I had to set boundaries and realized I knew myself well enough to know when I had to say no to people and be alone, but also to know when I should probably spend some time with other people. As a Christian, I believe that God made me a certain way for a reason and it was through the process of learning what was best for me as an introvert that I also learned to love the person I am, just as God made me.

 

Here are five things that I absolutely love about being an introvert:

 

  1. Relating to Other People

I have come to realize that there is nothing wrong with being an introvert and that there are many introverts out there who are just like me. By being confident in myself and knowing what it is like as an introvert, I can understand how other introverts feel and know just what to do to make them feel comfortable in an unfamiliar setting and hopefully help them not feel so alone.

IMG_20180401_115526One of my favorite ways that I have been able to relate to another introvert is with my niece. She is only four, but I can already tell she’s an introvert. One time, we were with a big group of people and I was feeling pretty overwhelmed. I found my niece sitting in a room with toys around her and she was just staring straight ahead at all the people. I went up to her and asked if there were too many people. She just nodded her head. I picked her up and we went and sat in a corner together, not speaking. After a few minutes, we emerged, ready to tackle social interactions again. Because I am an introvert I can have a close bond with my niece.

 

  1. I Love Being Different

I’m quirky and I know it. I do a lot of things that people think are weird, but the truth is, I love those things. For example, I stare at the wall for hours on end, just thinking; I refer to my favorite authors by their first names and talk as if they’re my best friends; and I like to swing when I need to think. I love that I am unique and that I can be myself without worrying what other people think anymore. Yes, introverts are different. But differences are beautiful. If we were all the same and everyone could understand everyone else, the world would be a very boring place. I’m happy to liven things up, in my own quiet way!

  1. Observing Makes Me More Attentive to People’s Needs

Introverts tend to sit back and observe more than they talk. Because of this, I pick up on how people are doing and am more attentive to people’s needs. I notice more things about my friends than they realize. Just because I don’t join into a conversation, doesn’t mean I’m not listening. I take in every single part of conversations and usually remember most of them. Being an introvert helps me care for the people I love.

 

  1. It Improves My Relationship with God

As I have learned to take time for myself and set boundaries, I have realized the 20181012_121832importance of taking time to do absolutely nothing. When I slow down and don’t constantly fill my time with doing things, I have more opportunities to hear from God and contemplate my relationship with Him. When I don’t take the time to slow down and have gaps in my schedule, it’s easy for me to forget to focus on God. But because I’m an introvert, I need gaps in my schedule, and in those gaps I find time for God. Being an introvert helps me be a better Christ follower.

 

  1. I Love Reading

For all the insecurities I felt all through middle school and high school about constantly having my nose in a book, I honestly don’t care anymore. I love reading. So much. I think there is so much to gain from good books and I honestly wouldn’t be half the person I am today if I hadn’t spent so much time reading.

 

Without intending to, the rest of the world puts so much pressure on us to be someone we’re not. Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, you should be the person you were made to be because there is so much beauty in each of us that we will only find if we are truly ourselves. Don’t let the world pressure you to be someone you’re not.

 

Now that I’ve shared a little about myself, I’m curious, what are the things you love most about the way you were made? Tell me in the comments!

Advertisements

Extroverts vs Introverts

I interviewed two of my friends about their experiences as an introvert and an extrovert. They are both such gems and are well worth listening to!

 

What did you learn from Madison and Aften that you hadn’t thought of before? What are some ways that introverts and extroverts differ that weren’t shown, but that you think are still important? Tell me in the comments!

 

P.S. Sorry there’s a watermark across the screen. I will hopefully be able to eventually create a version that does not have that. Does anyone know of any good, free video editing programs?

Introverted Characters

In my last post, I asked the English professors at Northwestern what they thought about themselves as introverts and what drew them to literature. In realizing, after I surveyed my professors, that many people who are drawn to literature are introverts, I wanted to look at literary characters introverts relate to. Here is a list of five wonderful book characters that are introverted, yet magnetic (even magical) on the page:

  1. Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert in Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Matthew and Marilla

While the imaginative orphan who captures most of our attention in this book is very much an extrovert, the brother and sister who adopt her are more introverted. Most of the community views Matthew and Marilla as strange. Their home is away from the road, far from other people; Matthew rarely talks to people, going out of his way to avoid interacting with women, and neither Matthew nor Marilla ever marry. When the orphan, Anne, comes into their lives, both Matthew and Marilla have different responses that are classic of introverts. At first, Marilla tries to stifle how much Anne talks because it is too much for her to handle, while Matthew appreciates having the talkative Anne by his side so he doesn’t have to talk as much. Although these characters are the odd pair in the community, outcasts almost, they become, along with Anne, the center of readers’ affections, not to mention two of the series’ best loved characters.

I relate more to Matthew than Marilla—appreciating people who talk more because it means I don’t have to—but I also can be like Marilla—getting annoyed when people talk to much because it is too overwhelming.

  1. Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Mr. Darcy

Mr. Darcy is a classic example of an introvert in literature—an introvert every reader adores. At the beginning of the story he seems cold and rude and the reader is not expected to like him. However, later in the story, it is revealed that he doesn’t talk to people he doesn’t know and isn’t overly nice to them because it is hard for him to interact with those he has never met before. The reader begins to love him as they recognize how thoughtful and kind he really is and how much he loves the main character, Elizabeth Bennet.

I can relate to Mr. Darcy and his struggle around new people. I am very awkward around strangers and probably often come off as rude, but really I just am shy and have a hard time interacting with people I don’t know.

  1. Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock

This genius detective is not shy like Mr. Darcy, but he is very introverted. Sherlock Holmes spends a lot of time in silence, thinking. He is energized by solitude. He also prefers the company of one close friend—Dr. John Watson—to the company of many people. In the BBC adaptation of Conan Doyle’s stories, Sherlock tells John, “Alone protects me,” to which John replies, “No. Friends protect people.” Sherlock prefers to be alone, but he also has a good friend who recognizes when he has spent too much time alone and when he needs people. John is the type of friend that all introverts need. And it’s the friendship between Watson and Holmes that—along with the puzzling mysteries and elementary deductions—keep people coming back to this sleuthing pair.

Sherlock Holmes is a bit more extreme than I generally tend to be, but there are times that I feel like it is safer to be alone than to be around people and I would rather stay in solitude than be with friends. It’s always good to be reminded that sometimes it is important to go out and actually be social.

  1. Puddleglum the Marsh-wiggle in The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis

Puddleglum

This might be a surprising one if you know Puddleglum, and while I never initially thought Puddleglum was an introvert, here’s why I have decided he is: when C.S. Lewis describes the marshes, where Puddleglum lives, he writes that the wigwams are “all at a good distance from one another; for Marsh-wiggles are people who like privacy.” Marsh-wiggles like to be alone, like introverts. Also, when Puddleglum introduces himself to Jill and Eustace, he says, “Puddleglum’s my name. But it doesn’t matter if you forget it. I can always tell you again.” It is such an introvert thing to assume people will forget your name and to be completely okay with that. I have often said that I am going to start introducing myself that way because it’s how I always feel when I meet new people. Also, every time Puddleglum and the kids meet someone on their journey, Puddleglum assumes they are enemies. He takes a while to warm up to new people; he does not warm up to the giants, for instance, until he is hilariously drunk. It is a lot easier to understand Puddleglum when you look at him as an introverted character.

  1. Aidan Thomas in The Door Within by Wayne Thomas Batson

The Door Within

This is one that most people have not heard of. The Door Within is the first book in a young adult fantasy series with the same title. Aidan Thomas is the main character—a high school freshman who goes to another world, becomes a knight, and fights evil. But before his exciting adventure, Aidan was a loner. The other kids at school thought he was weird because he sat by himself and drew pictures. This is the first book I read in which I connected to a character as a fellow introvert. This book made me realize that I am not alone in preferring to sit in solitude with my imagination—creating something—to being around people.

These are just a few of the many introverted characters in literature. They are all well-loved and they are all people that I can relate to and that help me to realize I’m not as different as I think I am. Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, you can always find characters to relate to, who make you feel like you’re not so alone. Maybe Lewis was thinking especially of introverts when he said, “We read to know we are not alone.”

Which character on this list is your favorite? Who are some other introverted characters that you love? Which fictional character do you most relate to? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Photo Credits: https://anneofgreengables.com/2014/06/16/matthew-marilla-cuthbert-unexpected-parents/
https://startsat60.com/opinion/is-this-the-real-mr-darcy
https://giphy.com/gifs/sherlock-benedict-cumberbatch-bbc-TX3bFEIRVYeQw
http://sundayfreedom.com/2008/07/05/on-the-bbc-adaptation-of-the-silver-chair/
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/712731.The_Door_Within

Introverts and Literature

In my last post, I reflected on how C.S. Lewis’ idea for a perfect day would be the perfect day for an introvert: a day full of reading and writing and little to no interactions with other people. This made me realize that most people who are drawn to literature are introverts. In fact, all five of the English professors at Northwestern are introverts at different levels. I asked each of them what they thought about themselves as introverts, and what drew them to literature. Here is some of what they said:

 

Dr. Michael Kensak (Professor of English and German; Department Co-Chair)

Kensak as GollumDr. Kensak talked about how unlike extroverts, he is not refueled by being around people. What refuels him is the world of ideas. He said, “What charges my battery is meeting many people through the world of imagination and travel.” Through literature, he is able to have a “world-wide network of people.” He is able to understand more about the world and the people in it through reading and this refuels him.

Along with that, Dr. Kensak believes that introverts have the gift of sustained concentration. He is drawn to literature because he is able to focus on a book for an extended period without getting distracted. Because Dr. Kensak is an introvert, he is drawn to and able to enjoy literature more.

 

Dr. Ann Lundberg (Professor of English)

Lundberg as Harriet Beecher StoweDr. Lundberg explained how reading involves spending time alone, but more than that, it allows time for reflection. Introverts love to spend time reflecting. In reading, you are able to go at your own pace. Dr. Lundberg said that there is “no social pressure to react” with reading. Reading allows you to go slow, take time to process, and respond according to what you really think, not just respond quickly before you think it through because you feel pressured to respond.

 

Dr. Keith Fynaardt (Professor of English; Humanities Director; First-Year Seminar Coordinator; Department Co-Chair)

Fynaardt as Willa CatherDr. Fynaardt described a book as “a whole world.” He talked about how there are different forms of reality; there’s the “real” world and there’s the world of a book. Introverts may be a little shy of the “real” world, but they are drawn to the “reality that is between two covers.” He even went beyond reading to discuss writing books. He said, “I want to inhabit my own imagination and interact with characters I’ve created.”

Dr. Fynaardt explained that reading is not an escape, but another way to interact with and wrestle with reality.

 

Dr. Joel Westerholm (Professor of English; Instructor in Music)

Westerholm as Mrs Bennet

Dr. Westerholm said, “Reading a book is safe extroversion” because you are plunged in the middle of social interaction without any risk. He talked about how he could laugh at Mrs. Bennet and her awkward socialness without feeling like that’s him and without having to feel uncomfortable.

He went on to say that he can teach literature as an introvert because while he’s at the front of the classroom, he can spend the entire time pointing at the text and “trying very hard to make sure people aren’t focusing on [him].” He talked about how if he were teaching science or another subject like that, instead of literature, there would be a bunch of data in his head that would have to get in the students’ heads. Then, the attention would have to be on him and they would have to focus more on him.

Dr. Westerholm also said that with literature, there is a sort of “bridge out of introversion.” With books and being a lover of literature, you are able to be part of a community without feeling conspicuous within it.

 

Dr. Samuel Martin (Associate Professor of English)

Martin as GandalfDr. Martin is the least introverted of the English professors, but he does enjoy being alone. He told me, “Because I don’t mind being alone, I’ve always appreciated empty time so I can read…I always liked it when people did leave me alone so I could read.” He talked about how reading was a bonding experience with his grandma. He spent a lot of time with her growing up and she was a reader. They could both be in the same room, reading, and not feel like they needed to be talking all the time. They could talk if they wanted, but they didn’t feel the need to fill silence. This is something that is strange to extroverts. As an introvert, he was able to have these wonderful moments with his grandma, both of them sharing something they love and bonding without speaking.

 

Introverts are drawn towards literature. It is an activity they can do alone that allows time for reflection and helps them wrestle with the world around them. In my next post, I will suggest books to read with specifically introverted characters.

 

Are you a literature nerd who’s also an introvert or are you an extrovert book nerd? Or are you neither? What do you think draws introverts to literature? What do you love or not love about literature?

 

 

Photo Credits: https://www.nwciowa.edu/english/faculty                                        https://thedilettantesdilemma.com/2015/10/18/mr-bennets-folly/                                                          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzjTfaqgMD4                                                                               https://comicbook.com/2014/10/18/sir-ian-mckellen-instructs-students-with-gandalf-quote/                                                           https://www.kisspng.com/png-the-lord-of-the-rings-the-fellowship-of-the-ring-g-895880/               https://www.loa.org/writers/221-harriet-beecher-stowe

An Introvert’s Perfect Day (C.S. Lewis Style)

A common ice breaker question is, “What is your idea of a perfect day?” When most people answer this question, their day is jampacked with activities and friends. While I do think most of what they tend to describe would be fun, it doesn’t really sound perfect to me. In truth, it sounds pretty overwhelming.

Doable, maybe, but definitely overwhelming.

About a year ago, I was reading C.S. Lewis’ autobiography, Surprised by Joy, and for the first time, someone described their perfect day and it made me pause, then think, That does sound perfect! Lewis’ perfect day would follow this schedule:

8:00am exactly: Breakfast

9:00am-1:00pm: Write/Read at desk (with a 10-minute break at 11:00am for tea or coffee)

1:00pm precisely: Lunch

2:00pm: Walk in solitude

No later than 4:15pm: Tea in solitude with a “gossipy, formless book which can be opened anywhere”

5:00pm-7:00pm: Write/Read at desk again

7:00pm: Evening Meal

After evening meal: talk or lighter reading

No later than 11:00pm: In bed

Jack at his desk

At first, I didn’t think much of this schedule besides that I wish, as Lewis did, this could be my schedule every day. Then, after I had read it a few times, it suddenly struck me: C.S. Lewis was an introvert. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of this before. Perhaps it’s because he strikes me as a more outgoing person in his writing. He was an amazing lecturer with a big, booming voice; he gave talks on the radio about Christianity during World War II; he responded to every letter he ever received; and he was an extremely well known author and seemed to handle that fame well. All of these things would be terrifying to me as an introvert, so it just seemed like he would be an extrovert.

But when Lewis described his perfect day, he included pretty much no human interaction. And when he left a spot for talking to people, he included an alternative, just in case. If that wasn’t enough to show that he was an introvert, he was very adamant about walking in solitude, not with a friend. He said that the noise of talking “blots out the sounds and silences of the outdoor world; and talking leads almost inevitably to Jack in librarysmoking, and then farewell to nature as far as one of our senses is concerned.” Lewis appreciated solitude and taking in the beauty and silence of creation. If he did have a friend with him, it would be a friend who wouldn’t talk and was so much like him in his ideal for a walk that “a glance, a halt, or at most a nudge, [was] enough to assure [them] that the pleasure [was] shared.”

Lewis enjoyed being by himself. He still liked being around his friends and liked talking to people, but in his ideal day, he would spend more time alone than in conversation. His perfect day—full of reading, writing, and solitude—is the perfect introverted day.

 

Think about it. What would your perfect day actually look like? Don’t just say what you think other people would agree with, but what would be perfect for you. Share your thoughts in the comments!

 

Photo Credits: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Creator/CSLewis                                      https://www.ligonier.org/blog/who-was-cs-lewis/                                                                   https://apilgriminnarnia.com/2018/01/12/c-s-lewis-on-the-right-way-to-read-classics/cs-lewis-on-the-reading-of-old-books/

Different Types of Introverts

***Disclaimer: I am by no means an expert on this topic. This is just what I understand from the research I have done.

What do you think of when you hear the word “introvert?” Do you think of a shy person who doesn’t like talking to people and only has a few friends? This is the stereotypical introvert, but there are actually four different types of introverts.

Before I get into the different types, I want to talk about what an introvert actually is. While a lot of shy people are introverts and a lot of introverts are shy, this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. There are shy extroverts and there are outgoing introverts. It’s not about how comfortable you are talking to people, it’s about energy levels. An introvert gets drained by being around people and needs time alone to recharge, and an extrovert gets drained by being alone and needs time around people to recharge. So, the different types of introverts are based off why they need time alone to recharge.

1. Social

The social introverts are the people that you wouldn’t be able to tell are introverts just by observing them around people. Social introverts aren’t necessarily shy, and they aren’t socially awkward, but they prefer to be in smaller groups of friends, not in big groups of people. Some days they need to say no to social activities and just be by themselves. The social introvert needs to be alone to recharge socially.

2. Thinking

Thinking introverts tend to be quieter. Not because they are shy, but because they’re usually lost in their own thoughts. They don’t mind being around people and the size of the group they’re in doesn’t matter to them. Thinking introverts usually just sit back and take in the conversation, rather than contributing much to it. They need time alone to recharge their mind. Thinking introverts need to have a chance to sit and process all that they’ve been thinking about throughout the day without being bothered.

3. Anxious

Anxious introverts are the people who always feel awkward in social interactions. They worry about social events days in advance and after an event they overanalyze everything they did and everything they said. This is the type of introvert that will rarely go to any social gathering, and if they do, they will be nervous the entire time. Anxious introverts need time alone not only to recharge in general, but also to recharge their emotions.

4. Restrained

Restrained introverts—also known as reserved introverts—take a while to warm up to people. They may enjoy being around people, but they have to get used to the people and the situation first. This type of introvert pays attention to every detail and is slow about being present in a situation because they have to take everything in first. This is the type of introvert that would become overwhelmed in a situation that is very stimulating. A restrained introvert needs time alone to recharge their senses.

All introverts are different and throughout this blog I will talk about my experience as an introvert, which will not always be the experience that all introverts have. If you’re wondering which type of introvert you are, take this quiz.

 

Which type of introvert are you? Do you think people could be a mix between a couple different ones? Tell me what you think in the comments!

The Torment of Greeting

At Northwestern College, and all throughout the town of Orange City, it is a common practice to smile, wave, or say hello to every person you walk or drive past. This is something that everyone praises; it’s part of the appeal of the small Christian college in this small Iowa town. People say things like, “Everyone is so friendly here! Everyone says hi to you when you pass them” or “This place is so welcoming and everyone’s nice!” I love the idea of this. I think it’s wonderful that you can be greeted with so many smiles in one day.

But in actual practice, I hate it.

Why would I hate something so small and wonderful as saying hi to everyone I pass? Because I’m an introvert. Specifically, a shy introvert. I am very much a wallflower, and I like it that way. I hate having attention drawn to myself. (In my next post I will talk about different types of introversion and why all introverts are not the same as me.)

For example, the other day, I was walking out of one of the buildings on campus and the chaplain was walking in. I was in an especially introverted mood and I just wanted to seem invisible as I walked back to my apartment where I would shut myself in my room and read. I paced my walking so that we would pass through different sets of doors at the same time and not have to make eye contact or say hi. I also looked at the ground, pretending I didn’t notice him. It would have worked, except he paused at the door, just so he could say hi to me as I walked out.

Who does that?

I was trying to avoid social interaction, but he actually stopped to be able to say hi. I returned the greeting and practically ran back to my apartment to avoid any more social interaction.

In case you aren’t sure what I meant when I said I was an especially introverted mood, below you can see an example of an introvert in an introverted mood (on the left) versus an extrovert in an introverted mood (on the right).

Another time, I was walking through the music hall and I saw someone that I’ve had some conversations with, but not many. As I walked down the long stretch of hallway, I debated whether I should acknowledge him or not. This is the worst—when you kind of know someone, but not well. What if he thought it was weird to say hi to him? What if we weren’t on the friendship level of saying hi to each other when we pass each other around campus? (Introverts tend to have a level of friendship that they have to reach before they want to say hi.) What if he was in a bad mood and didn’t want to be cheerfully greeted?

I made up my mind to make eye contact and smile.

And he looked away!

This was even worse!

Now I had to figure out why he didn’t smile or say hi and why he looked away. In reality, he probably was not paying attention and didn’t notice me smile at him. It would have made no difference whether I smiled or looked at the ground.

But that’s the thing. To most people, saying hi to everyone they pass is completely normal. But to introverts, especially shy introverts, it is complete torment.

 

Am I alone in feeling this way about these kinds of interactions? If you’re an introvert, I’d love to hear from you. And don’t worry, since this is the Internet, you won’t have to smile and nod!

 

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

Create your website at WordPress.com
Get started