In praise of space: 5 ways being an introvert makes my life (and the world) better

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I am an introvert.  Contrary to what lots of people seem to think, this doesn’t mean that I hate people.  It does mean that my brain and my spirit crave space.  A full calendar stresses me out, but one with room for long conversations enjoyed over coffee and plenty of time spent with a good book helps me feel calm and balanced.  This is who I am, and the truth is, I think it’s pretty great.  So without further ado, here are five ways that being an introvert makes my life (and the world) better.

  1.  It makes me a great teacher for certain kids: Almost without exception, visitors to my classroom full of busy five-year-olds comment on how calm and peaceful of an environment it is.  I love active, hands-on learning but I have a low tolerance for noise and frenzy.  My students learn this quickly and most of them adapt really well.  This makes my classroom a safe space for kids who are really nervous about school and for kids who are easily over-stimulated.  My own need for space also causes me to pause and give my students a minute to struggle and problem-solve before I step in to rescue.  Lots of times, that’s all they need to figure it out for themselves and feel a great sense of accomplishment.  No teacher is the best teacher for every single child, but there are plenty of kids who thrive in my classroom because I am rocking my introversion.
  2. My friends know I’m legit: Though I probably overuse the word “friend” more than anyone you know, there are few folks that I consider true friends.  As an introvert, it takes a lot of work for me to make a new friend.  Not to have a conversation.  Not to accept your friend request on Facebook.  Not to make eye contact and smile and ask about your kids.  I can do all that, no problem.  But to create the space to really know you, to share experiences and build trust, it’s hard.  All that being said, once we’re friends, I am all in.  I will fight for you and your family and your causes with all kinds of mama-bear ferocity.  I will give generously of myself and if you need me, I will drop everything and be there just as quick as my little Honda can get me there.  It may take a while, but once we’re friends, I’ve got your back.  Always.
  3. People listen when I speak up: Growing up, I never really felt ashamed of my introversion.  I did have a smattering of teachers through the years who would admonish me repeatedly to “speak up more in class.”  Here’s the thing.  I have a strong aversion to noise for the sake of noise.  If I have a thought that’s important enough to contribute, I’ll speak up.  Otherwise I won’t.  In many situations, I find that this makes my opinion more valuable to others.  My voice hasn’t become part of the background noise.
  4. I am teaching my daughter good boundaries: When I decline an invitation that would stretch us too thin, she is learning that balance and family time matter.  That she matters.  When I give her space to play by herself, she is learning that she doesn’t need constant affirmation to persist at a task.  She is smart.  When I give myself permission to rest and recharge at home, she is learning that self-care is important.  These are good lessons, important lessons for all of our kids.
  5. I meet Jesus in the space:  I believe in corporate worship, corporate prayer.  But the truth is that my heart is usually more open, my spirit more ready to listen away from the noise and the crowd.  I need some time and some space to mull, to process, to apply.  Since I know this about myself, I purposefully widen the margins of my life, making room for the Jesus-moments that (I hope) transform the way I interact with other people when I head back into the noise and the crowd.

So, there you have it.  Are you with me?  Super! 🙂

If not, I would love to read your list of five ways that being an extrovert makes your life (and the world) better.  Guest post, anyone?

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2 thoughts on “In praise of space: 5 ways being an introvert makes my life (and the world) better

  1. karen anderson

    Hi Shannon! I read this with interest cuz I’m married to an introvert and cuz I’m an extravert (though a little less so than when I was younger.) In the spirit of hearty discussion I take issue with a couple of your points. Though an extravert, I also have an aversion to noise and chaos; I don’t think a preference for order corelates to being an introvert or extravert. Concerning being a legit friend, I think that’s proven over time through loyalty, and you can be a babbling friend or a quiet one–you just have to be there! I do believe that those who talk a lot are listened to less, and I have experienced not being listened to because I have too much to say! Point well taken! I’m consciously trying to practice the verse in James that says we should speak little and listen much! I also think we all need both corpporate worship and alone time with Jesus, as you do. Though an extravert, I treasure my alone time with Him. Maybe that’s because the need for intimacy with our Creator is a universal need, no matter what our personality type! I love your thoughtfulness, Shannon! Cheers to holiday breaks that give us the time for reflection!! 🙂

    • Shannon

      Of course extroverts can be good teachers (with orderly classrooms) and legit friends too. I was not meaning to imply otherwise…
      Do I sense a guest post coming on? 🙂

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