Friday, August 29, 2008

Beyond Myself

I am a closet introvert trapped in an extrovert’s body. To most people who know me, I am bubbly and very outgoing. I love to talk, exhibited by my frequent “diarrhea of the mouth” when I’m at parties. I’ll come home and rehash the evening, “Oh my, did I really say THAT???” I love to plan events to bring people together such as church functions, fundraisers, and get-togethers for no particular reason. I am the one who will go up to the person standing alone and try to draw her in.

Truthfully, however, I’ve spent most of the last 2 years alone in my minivan or alone at home. I’ll walk along the bike path and see everyone else paired up in twos, but it rarely crosses my mind to call someone to walk with. I like to shop alone. When we go to the beach with other families, you would think I’d be drinking margaritas and dancing on the table top, finally having other grown-ups to talk to, but I usually spend several days in my room devouring library books. When I do join the others to play cards at night, I have a blast and am energized, but I realize that cocooning has become my nature.

I think over the years I have put out a weird vibe when it comes to being intimate with people. I joke that I’m about as deep as a puddle when it comes to introspection, so maybe I’m just afraid of grappling with messy issues. When Tom and I were dating, we had two friends who were also dating. When I would hear about their deep talks that would last until 4 a.m.— on the meaning of life, etc. I would have a pang. Why didn’t Tom and I talk about those things? I came to realize that one of the reasons I was attracted to Tom in the first place was that he didn’t want to always be digging deeper and deeper and neither did I.

The past few days I’ve been thinking about how we are called to be God’s hands and feet on this earth. The way we do this is through loving and serving each other as an outpouring of His love. I love people and want what’s best for them. What I don’t seem to want to do is extend myself in the day to day way of relationships. I rarely make or receive phone calls just to chat. I have a structure to the day that I am reluctant to depart from if something comes up.

I think of friends I’ve had that I’ve introduced to each other. More times than I can count, they have become intimate, helping each other with child rearing, spending holidays together, and seeing each other through crises, while I have become more of a yearly Christmas card friend. This may sound like I’m jealous, but I’m not; I just see in them a willingness to openly share the stuff of life together while I hang back, again and again.

Please don't get me wrong-- being God’s hands and feet has nothing to do with being an introvert or extrovert—it has to do with love. I am awed when people show love in ways I wouldn’t consider doing myself. My mother was an excellent example of this. Whether it was inviting our 80+ year old babysitter to live in our house for 2 weeks when she decided (temporarily!) to leave her husband of 50 years, or welcoming a stream of friends to our dinner table, she extended herself in ways that were not convenient, but were real.

There are so many people around me who don’t stop at, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do.” They just do SOMETHING. I am in awe of them, because what they do is so different from what I do. I am much more comfortable writing a check for a cause or praying FOR someone in crisis than BEING there physically in the trenches or praying WITH someone in crisis.

I am not sure where I am going with this, but my prayer is that God enables me to step out of my comfort zone and live life with others. There is nothing wrong with down-time or alone time, but I want to be someone whom others can count on, not just at a party or during the good times, but in the messy, nitty gritty of life.


Gretchen said...

Wow, this sounds really familiar, like myself. I was voted "most outgoing" in high school but now I cherish my time when I'm able to be alone. I need time to think of things for myself rather than being consumed by thoughts of doing for others.

I don't know if you're anything like me, but I really long to be ASKED to do things or INVITED to be a part of events, rather than being the one who is always inviting others or organizing a party to get people together with each other but not necessarily me. I love people and love to be surrounded by women, but it would feel so nice if someone wanted to be MY friend rather than me seeking THEM out.

The Big Piece of Cake said...

I think you'd be surprised at how many people could relate to this. I am queen of making plans and then feeling relieved when people have to cancel on me.

And I definitely have intimacy issues. I have always been good at talking (definitely liked those conversations until 4 a.m.) - but I'm not very good at feeling things. I always feel out of place at wakes and funerals, and I'm more comfortable listening to someone else pour out their feelings than having to bear my own soul.

Maybe it's possible to be an introvert in some ways and an extrovert in fact - it's probably more common than being 100% one or the other.

Rebecca said...

There is nothing wrong with the way you are...we all have times where we re-evaluate who we are and how we relate to the world around us, especially when we see others and their way of life.

I think most of what we feel is a grass-is-always-greener kind of thing and when we get to the other side we realize that we were the way we were because that was the right fit for us.

You are absolutely good the way you are...being so much to so many is EXHAUSTING and a little alone time is so healthy.

Pamela said...

What a timely post. I struggle with the same issues, but to me they are just frustration as I hadn't come close to identifying the source of the frustration. Talk about avoiding digging deeper!

Thanks for the inspiration.

Cat@BudgetBlonde said...

This sounds a lot like me. President of my class in high school, yet you wouldn't catch me dead going out in college. And, I always ALWAYS stress about what I say to people at get togethers, wondering if I said something awkward or wrong. Give me books and a glass of wine any day and call me a happy gal.

Cat@BudgetBlonde said...

This sounds a lot like me. President of my class in high school, yet you wouldn't catch me dead going out in college. And, I always ALWAYS stress about what I say to people at get togethers, wondering if I said something awkward or wrong. Give me books and a glass of wine any day and call me a happy gal.

Alexandra said...

What to say.

I guess, I wish I knew the impression I make.

I like people, but I feel they don't take to me.

I don't know...wish I knew you in real life , you could tell me the vibe I send out.

I like your writings.