Friday, March 6, 2015

Introverts Like Me

Yesterday evening, we went to a potluck. My kids attacked the food like they hadn't eaten for weeks. Yet for some reason, the only way they grow is up. Ahh, the mysteries of life. 

Easter, of course, is a season for eating. (And what's a holiday without food?)

During this season, churches prepare to welcome visitors. Easter and Christmas are the two services everyone knows you can't miss. (What would your grandmother say?) So maybe your church is planning an Easter breakfast. Maybe an egg hunt's in the works. Or maybe you're having people over for your own Easter dinner. 

And maybe this is a time to invite people to join us at the table - a time to open our churches and homes and lives to others. 

But I'll admit it's hard for me. 

It's a cool sort of hipster thing now to say you're an introvert, but it was true of me long before it was cool. (Flashback to 1985: Who's that kid lost in a book while the other kids play kickball? Oh, that's me.) 
Photo credit
But sometimes it's hard for introverts to befriend new people, especially in a new environment. I don't pretend to speak for everyone, of course.  But I will say I've never met an introvert who made close friends fast. Some people are built to make friends one step at a time.

Introductions are the first step in that journey. 
Just kidding. . . photo credit
If you're an extrovert who meets an introvert this season, there are lots of ways to connect. Maybe I'll get to some of them. But tonight, speaking strictly from my own experience, I'll just offer. . .

Five Things Not to Do When You Meet This Introvert for the First Time:

1) Try to read my mind. This is what shrinks call projection, and it's about you, not me. I've had people misinterpret my quiet for snobbery (because they feel rejected), anxiety (because they feel nervous when people are quiet), and even attraction (because - well, you tell me). Mind reading's a problem because you're likely to guess wrong. If you want to get to know me, try asking instead of guessing.

2) Ask me a question and answer it yourself. "You're a middle school teacher, right? Man, I always wanted to be a teacher. What's it like to be a teacher? I bet it's really fun. Do you play games with the kids in your class? My favorite teacher always played Cranium with us. . ."  

That's not a conversation, right? It's a soliloquy, and I'm now feeling stuck. That's why my head keeps bobbing like a sky dancer.  
Photo credit
When I'm quiet after you've asked a question, I'm thinking. Just give me a sec. We'll have a great conversation if you do.  

3)  Say you used to be an introvert, but you grew out of it. That didn't happen, guys. You might've grown out of shyness or social anxiety because learning to communicate is part of growing up. But introversion isn't a maturity issue. 

You grew out of putting your shoes on backwards, sleeping with a security blanket, and drinking milk out of a bottle. And that's good. (I did, too!) What you didn't grow out of is your temperament. That's also good.

4) Hug me right away. I know it sounds rude, but please hear me out. Some of my best friends are huggers. Some of the greatest people I've ever known were huggers. But this is different. 

One Sunday on my way to a new church, I posted a status about not wanting strangers to hug me. And I miscommunicated to one of my friends. She thought I didn't want people hugging me at all. I understood her feelings, but strangers are different for me. I have boundaries around touch; if I've just learned your name, I'm not ready for a hug. Shake my hand, and let me go. Maybe I'll be ready to hug you later.

5) Talk about diapers, potty training, or bathroom mishaps. Unless I'm literally in the middle of changing my baby's diaper at the moment - please, let's not start there. It's possible we could be great friends someday even if we did start off like that. But it's not likely if I associate you with unpleasant topics.   
Photo credit
And on that note, I'll put an end to the list for tonight. (You don't want to know where we were headed next, considering point 5.) But I will say this: Introverts like me love our friends. We like making friends, and we're loyal to those we love. And we want to get to know you. 

We just need to do it without being rushed. We'll take our time. 

But then time is how deep friendships grow anyway, isn't it? 

Grateful for my patient friends, 

No comments:

Post a Comment