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Hello, I’m an introvert.

I thought my title kind of clever…the idea of an introvert introducing herself with such boldness. It defies the stereotype, but then again-many introverts do.


What we aren’t:


1. Shy


Well, some of us are and some of us are not. It doesn’t really have much to do with introversion. As a child, I was very shy. Now, I can still be shy. I have bouts of shyness depending on my circle and tend to be quiet in large groups (though less and less over the years.) Among friends, I’m talkative. When I tell them that I consider myself and introvert (100%) they are shocked. Being an introvert does not make you shy. My dad is one of the most amiable, friendly people in the world who makes everyone he meets feel at ease. He’s also an introvert who chooses tinkering at Eyrie Park over most anything.



2. Underexposed


We are not introverts because we weren’t put in social situations, we are introverts because of our innate personality. I do not accredit my introversion to being home-schooled or living out in the country. I don’t accredit another person’s extroversion to public education or city-life. I simply do not think that these experiential, circumstantial parts of lives are the root of whether or not we turn out as an introverted or extroverted being. 



3. Hermits


Introverts don’t hate people and actually love their friendships. Introverts, in my experience, tend to have small, close circles of friends. We don’t have large, outer rings of varying levels of friendships and tend to hang-out in casual settings. Introverts can be very hospitable. Likewise, they can enjoy coming over to your house (don’t be afraid to ask us!) or meeting for lunch or coffee. We also enjoy true social situations such as parties, get-togethers, reunions and church events. However, in my experience, we dread the event just before it happens. I am rarely “in the mood” to go anywhere when it is really time to go. Once I get there, I enjoy myself and laugh at my former negativity, but leaving the comfort of one’s home for the unpredictable world at large is often unappealing.



What we are:
Energized by time alone, drained by social interaction.


This is the best way I’ve ever heard it explained and the past few years have proven this evidently in my own life. When I have been around people for a while or even just had one, long conversation with another person, I have a certain kind of tiredness arise inside me that is overwhelming. I am drained, exhausted, used up. I want to go to sleep or watch a silly movie or stare out the window and ponder nothingness. 


Introverts are typically sensitive and become overstimulated by much (or little, depending on the person) conversation, interaction or information.



A bit of advice for introverts:


1. Let yourself wind down.
Just do it. Take a nap. Watch a movie. Stare into space. It’s better to take this time to revamp your mind than to make yourself keep going until you crash. It is not wasted time.


2. Say “no.”
You don’t have to go to everything you’re invited to, even if you technically have time. You don’t have time to kill yourself over birthday parties. People would rather you attend and enjoy or not attend at all. Attending as a zombie, unless it is a Halloween party, rarely adds to the fun.


3. Take information holidays.
Unplug the computer and stop taking so much in. We have access to too much. Try to spend more time reading complete thoughts rather than tweets of information, but do close that thick book from time-to-time too and let your brain breathe. Engage in more one-on-one conversations and letter writing than large-group small talk. Just like eating, watch your diet and be careful of the portions you’re taking in.



Above all, don’t judge. I’m an introvert. What are you?


Everly

7

“not too much”

Much of my youth was spent just like this. We didn’t call it “art class.”



Growing up, I was never really set up to fit in. I was the tiny one that everyone always thought was several years younger. My peers liked to all take turns picking me up or tossing me around and informing me in loud voices that I was “sooo light!” In the youth group, this only changed a little. They were just as loud, only this time, they usually told me I was “sooo lucky!” They still tossed me around.


Luckily, I never really got picked on much because I was home-schooled. My social life consisted almost solely of family and church-family. The closest thing I ever knew to bullying was sticking up for a friend who was told at Vacation Bible School that she couldn’t sit at this table “because she was fat.” I still start breathing hard at the thought of it. Wanted to chunk my paper mache fish at their perfect little faces.


But I would say, despite being small and looking young, the biggest reason I felt like I misfit was because of my lifestyle. As I said, I was home-schooled. This, in-and-of-itself made me different. Kids were always asking me when my school “started” or “let out” and I never knew what to say…it didn’t work that way for us. Somehow, that was never enough explanation. Conversations about grades, cafeterias, buses, substitutes and the all-mighty S.A.T. always had me in la-la land. 


The things that seemed most important to my peers-performing well in school and after-school activities and being popular, never meant anything to me. I would smile and nod when someone would spill some exciting news about a test or project, even though I had no idea what they were talking about. I would try to act just as excited as everyone else for “summer” even though to me, summer was a change in the weather, not a date of probation.

Birdie and I at our “Haitian Donation” lemonade stand. This was not a school project.



This all came to a grand and climactic finale during high school. Though my parents never graded our work, tested us or “put us in grades,” we always considered ourselves in one grade or another for church and social purposes. Half the time I couldn’t remember what grade I was supposed to be in, much to the shock of…pretty much everyone.


Needless to say, I was quite shocked when I arrived in “high school” and saw the changes that were taking place in my peers. For one thing, they all got car keys, which apparently can’t fit in anyone’s pocket or purse and must be handled and jingled at all times. For another thing, they all became extremely stressed and had very important prayer requests and Facebook statuses about A.P. classes (and I always thought that A.P. stood for “Associated Press,”) projects and tests. But beyond the eyeliner, gym shorts and sunglasses, the most common denominator was definitely busyness

This is me “in high school,” hanging out at a park with the family. And yes, this might’ve been a weekday.

While my days, weeks, months and “semesters” (whatever those are!) all blended together and were marked mostly by family birthdays and seasonal changes, they seemed to live out of planners. While I was spending my time at home, helping with my younger siblings, they were engrossed in their own activities. While I was writing stories out of love for words and plot twists, they were pouring over papers on topics they couldn’t care less about. While I was living life as a 15, 16, 17 year old girl, they were checking off lists.


I would arrive at Bible study to hear them all joining in one conversation about something I  knew nothing about and they would turn to me and say, “What did you do this week?” I never knew how to respond. For one thing, I never remembered what had happened “this week” and what had been the week before. For another, the things that I did during the week never seemed to “count” to them. Somehow, if it didn’t have a team captain or club president, it wasn’t an activity. 

Summer vacation: Jacmel, Haiti

Was I supposed to list off the books I’d read to Willin and Jubilee? The meals I’d assisted Sabrina in? The adventure Birdie and I had on our walk? Was I supposed to reiterated what I had learned from a theological debate I had with Joey or describe the dreadful writer’s block I had been battling? How about the tree I climbed? Or the elbow grease I put into the bathtub ring?


These things were so different than the things I would hear them talking about: track, dance, theatre, cliff notes and bursting binders, unfair grades and cute football players, duel credit and vacation destinations. Surely they weren’t interested in what I did that week. For the most part, I found, they weren’t. Most of the time, I’d just say, “Not too much.”

(to be continued)

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