I’ve only recently accepted that I’m introverted.
Growing up, I wasn’t entirely in the dark about my personality. I remember recognising early on that I was a little bit different from the others.
I was a quiet girl who enjoyed being alone – immersed in my own world. I often ate alone during recess, and I didn’t have many friends. I wasn’t a popular girl. I was a little bit … invisible.
So it comes as little surprise that I wasn’t very well adjusted when I became a youth leader in Church.
Most of the other youth leaders were loud, outgoing and had bubbly personalities. The chief extrovert was a fellow leader named Wendy. I recall how effortlessly she entertained Church campers with her fun icebreakers. And I always marvelled at how she could share the Word of God with others with such gusto.
To me, she was an energiser bunny which exuded confidence and never ran out of steam. Everyone loved to be around Wendy.
But as for me? Well, I was the direct opposite of Wendy. I was neither a good orator nor charismatic. I felt a lot of pressure to be a Wendy though I just wasn’t like her. I misguidedly figured that I had to do something about my introverted personality.
As an introvert, it became a lot easier for me not to do Church things and meet people.
So I began to be very enthusiastic in my cell group. I tried to be talkative. I tried to be like all the other leaders who so easily connected with their youths. I surrounded myself with people almost every day in a bid to be someone I innately wasn’t.
I lived this half-life for some time before I finally burnt out. At the very least, I was finally able to face the fact that I was not an extrovert and that it just wasn’t working. I returned to the other side and fully embraced my introversion.
But that soon meant that retreating to my own space and keeping to myself became excuses, and all too convenient for me. As a newly “practising” introvert, it became a lot easier for me not to do Church things and meet people.
In time, I became invisible again. It was only some time after that that I saw all the mistakes I had been making. I wrongly thought that as an introvert, it was acceptable for us not to participate in social things or be part of a community.
The truth is, we are not defined by our personalities: introvert or extrovert. We are defined by our identity in Christ. We are the children of God. And He didn’t make any mistakes when He created each and every one of us. We are each designed according to His will, for a unique plan and purpose. So me being an introvert wasn’t a mistake. I simply failed to recognise the strengths and weaknesses of my introversion.
Thank God I see a little better now.
I may not have an outgoing personality but it doesn’t mean I can’t reach out to people. My way of sharing the Gospel might not take place on the stage, but it does happen in smaller settings like cafés. Extrovert or introvert – there’s no “better” personality to have. We are all made in God’s image, and following His will, we all have our own unique ways to serve the Kingdom.
“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-13)
My heart longs to see more introverts looking less at themselves and more at God. Instead of breaking away from community, we each should all be putting roots down – finding our unique places in the Body of Christ to serve God as His beloved children.
I believe that’s what Jesus wants.
Names in this article have been changed for privacy.