Culture

I’m an introvert, but I won’t let that be my excuse

by Christina Wong // October 9, 2017, 4:17 pm

Coming out of my shell

I’m a claustrophobic introvert and it’s pretty obvious.

Me-time is my favourite time of the day. It’s when I just lie on my bed and read, or watch some YouTube videos. Just me and myself.

Needless to say, the days I dread most are the days when I have gatherings or events to head to. People. Humans. They drain the life out of me.

 

My closest friends know this: I hate socialising and meeting new people.

For instance, I was on my way to a church retreat after work one evening, when the sudden thought of having to interact with many strangers scared me. I made a U-turn and headed home instead.

I love solitude and silence. Left to my own devices, I would just stay at home forever — and I know I’m not the only one.

THE FRIEND WHO GOT AWAY

I got to know Janice (not her real name) in JC. We quickly became close friends because we were so similar. Janice was easily exhausted from being surrounded by people and overwhelmed by the tasks she had to do.

She began skipping classes once a week. Then it became twice a week. Eventually she was just never in school.

She kept retreating to her safe space and comfort zone.

I love solitude and silence. Left to my own devices, I would just stay at home forever — and I know I’m not the only one.

It became increasingly frustrating for us as her friends because we were constantly trying to track her down. We had to call her at home every morning to get her to come to school, and every night to make sure she got her homework done.

There was Project Work to do, and there were SYF selections coming up. But Janice just stopped showing up.

She ended up repeating JC1, but eventually her escapism got the better of her and she dropped out of school altogether.

No one from my circle of friends in JC has managed to get into contact with Janice since.

THE INTROVERT’S ESCAPE

I totally understand the motivation behind Janice’s tendency to run from everything.

My current workplace has an “open desk” concept. That means there aren’t any cubicles or partition.

Also, the office is basically housed in a renovated storeroom, so there isn’t exactly a lot of space.

I’m sandwiched between people and our team isn’t exactly the quietest and tidiest one around. It’s an introvert’s worst nightmare.

So when the option to work offsite came up, I jumped at it immediately. It felt like cold water for a thirsty man.

 

 

I was more productive at home. It was tidy, quiet and spacious. I got more things done and I saved time on commuting and lunch breaks. It was a win-win situation.

I rationalised my decision with the cold, hard statistics I could see tangibly. I mean, being in my comfort zone helps me!

Until I realised that it was becoming poison for my heart. On the days when I had to come into the office, I was filled with dread and frustration. I couldn’t wait for the day to be over so I could quickly get home to my safe place.

Work became merely a routine of tasks I had to complete. I didn’t know what was going on in my colleagues’ lives and how they were doing. Constantly retreating to my comfort zone, I switched off my interpersonal skills completely.

But it wasn’t supposed to be like that. Whatever happened to team spirit? Whatever happened to being there for one another? What happened to relationship building?

WHY I SHOW UP

Eventually I decided that I would show up in the office every single day. Even on our stipulated offsite days.

If I continued to stay in my comfort zone, where was the reliance on God? Where’s the room for God to move in unthinkable ways? Where’s the trust in God?

It would be so easy to live my life the way my personality would otherwise dictate. But I can’t let my introversion be my excuse that keeps me from living life to the fullest.

I still don’t go to gatherings as often as my friends would want me to, but I try. It’s difficult, but I ask God for help. For strength. For patience. For endurance. For joy. I ask Him to expand my perspective, that even in overly-social functions I can find meaning and purpose over sheer reluctance.

It would be so easy to live my life the way my personality would otherwise dictate. But I can’t let my introversion be my excuse that keeps me from living life to the fullest.

Maybe I’ll bless someone with my presence. Or maybe, I’ll be blessed by something someone will say to me.

I choose to show up. Not because I am obligated to. I know that doing things out of a spirit of obligation will eventually burn me out. But I see the greater picture: Christians can’t be light in a dark world without showing up. I cannot be a light in the world by hiding at home (Matthew 5:14).

Jesus first showed up for me.

This is why I choose to lay my introversion down at the altar. This is why I show up.

About the author

Christina Wong

Christina is a designer who used to memorise Pantone swatches. Her last cup of bubble tea was in November 2018.