I’ve just begun recovering from Extroversion Crash. That’s what I’m calling the cycle I’ve fallen victim to in this chaotic, loud, interactive world.
I’ve identified a cycle, just recently, that explains this phenomenon.
You see, I am an introvert. I’ll pause a moment while you collect yourself. Yes. I know. If you have known me for a few decades, you are not shocked. If you know me primarily from church, etc you find yourself very surprised indeed. (If you are reading this and don’t actually know me, welcome! I didn’t think you existed! Please comment so I know you are real!)
I found myself surprised by how many people were themselves surprised to hear that I am an introvert. “But you were so welcoming to my family at church!” This surprised me. I presumed everyone saw the real me. An introvert. A shy one at that. (Not all introverts are shy.) But realizing that I was seen as an extrovert by so many helped me identify a crucial key to this cycle of Extroversion Crash.
One of the best explanations of introversion/extroversion I’ve heard is simply this: Extroverts feed off people and the energy of other people. They draw their energy from a crowd or group. Introverts feed their energy to other people. It takes, not creates, a great deal of energy for introverts to be a part of a crowd or group. We draw energy from a small group of close friends or quiet alone time and feel exhausted by parties, not energized.
It started when I began teaching public school and leading a scout group of teenagers. I was intimidated and overwhelmed by the thought of interacting with parents and other adults in groups. I, unwittingly, developed my “on” persona. This persona allowed me to participate in certain areas in which I felt experienced or capable (teaching, scouting or Children’s Ministry) with a confidence and outgoingness not natural to me.
I thought this was a good thing. Until I crashed. Each time. After this final crash, I began looking at the pattern. Why? I’m capable. I’m passionate. I’m intelligent. I was qualified in some ways for each of those “jobs”. Yet each one sent me skittering across the ground as I crashed. And each in much the same manner.
I won’t bore you with the details. But I finally realized, I was trying so hard, using so much of my energy pretending to be what I’m not, that I consistently failed to be authentically me. I think this lack of authentically me causes more problems than people realize. I think I’m being “judged” on an extrovert scale and falling far short. I’ve been seen as closed minded, snobby, clique-ish. None of which are actually the case. I’ve realized that perhaps my efforts to fake extroversion failed in one large area. People.
I lack the standard people skills that you expect to see in people who like to “people”. (“People” or “Peopling” is a verb I use to mean socializing and visiting and small talking and all things generally associated with being around people.) Peopling in hard for introverts. I suspect that all my efforts to do the job in a manner in which an extrovert would left me very out of place in a world of people who are good at “peopling”.
So I crashed. Repeatedly.
I hope someday to learn to me more authentically me. I think I’m getting there. I have a great future post in store about all the things I’m learning to love. Maybe some day I will find the place God plans to use me next and I will, maybe, learn to serve him as the introvert me and not the “on” me. Maybe I’ll avoid the crash. Maybe. Until then, I will continue to practice living quiet in a Loud world.