The Reluctant Introvert

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471362_3903777918088_1496095390_oI was tested some years ago, the Myers Briggs test I believe. My husband was getting his Board Certification as Physician Executive, and along with it came the test. We both took it, and found that we are quite opposite. Every test we take, we find that we are almost always at opposing ends of the spectrum.

In this test, I was a borderline introvert, and he was the extrovert. People that hear that may find it surprising. I am the kind of person who will happily make comments to complete strangers, and carry on hour long conversations with parents I meet at McDonald’s. I compliment peoples clothing, and pets, and shake hands and greet others at Mass. I am very happy to see my friends and neighbors in brief interludes, and for play dates. I am not anti-social. I am a very private person, and thrive on private time.

Born an only child, I have always been independent, and content on my own. What raises my anxiety level, is having too many social engagements on any given week. At Christmas time, I get excited about all the parties, but in the end, I am content if we have only one soiree per week.

I get especially anxious about having guests to my house. Maybe it’s because I have 3 kids, and crumbs on the floor, spilled chocolate milk hiding near couches, papers on the tables, and shoes in every hallway, doctor bags, stethoscopes, and lab coats draped over every chair. Don’t get me wrong, most of my time at home revolves around dishes, and laundry, and pickup. Even when the house is gorgeous on Mondays, (my favorite time for people to come), I get anxious about guests.

The people I have known for 10 years aren’t the problem. It’s the people who have never been to my house, or that I have known for less than 10 years.

Moving on…..I knew my husband’s had ears perked up when he heard that our church was having small faith community group meetings. The priest encouraged the parishioners to sign up, and I knew my husband, so I went ahead and found the one that has families with children. That was probably my first mistake. Now I not only have to worry about adults coming to the house, I have to worry about children too? What was I thinking?

Next I waited for the list of people. It was only 3 other couples. Wheh! Then we threw it out there. Who is willing to host? No One?? Surprise ! Ok, I guess it’s me then. Well in some ways this made me happy because I am not alone; no one else wanted to host this gathering either! HA! I am a persistent person, and when I start something I don’t back out. I am perfectly happy not to add one more thing to my calendar, but I am doing this, because my husband wants to, and it’s a good idea. It will probably be good for my soul, and I know that if I do this, I will probably be really glad I did, and make some new friends. Those are all “ifs”, but I feel that it is worth the risk and anxiety to try.

Then I discover that I need to pick a time during the week. Wednesday. If I make it too early people aren’t off of work. Then there is dinner time. Then there is bedtime for our kids starting at 730pm. How am I going to do this?

photo (28)We decided on 7:45pm while I put the kids, my husband will greet the guests, and I will finish with the kids, and we can start at 8pm. That’s if everything goes according to plan. We have a round table with 7 chairs, and 8 attendees. Well, I can work with that. We could just add a chair, and scoot out a bit from the table. Then my husband has a “great” idea. Let’s invite another couple. We really like this couple. Somehow this little monkey wrench has me in knots. Sounds like no big deal right? Except my little plan that I am now just getting used to is not going to work. How are 10 people going to fit around a table that barely fits 7?

Well, I do have some bar chairs nearby. “No that won’t work, too uncomfortable,” my husband says. I liked the idea, because they are higher, and could be the second tier of the circle.

Heck, I will sit on a bar stool.

All I am really getting at here, is that this is a reach for me. Sounds silly, but I am constantly being tugged to learn new things for my job, and to be a better mom, my husband stretches me to be a better wife, and a better Chief Operating Officer of the family, and my Introvert self has to stretch to be more social. God calls us to praise and worship in community. “When two or more of you are gathered in my name, there am I in your midst.” One more reason to have a small faith community gather in your home.

I can’t explain away the feelings of anxiety I get when I feel overextended. I can’t rationalize away those feelings. However, I bet if Wednesday goes really smoothly, that I will feel accomplished, connected, and even proud of myself for being a good wife, and pushing beyond my limits. I will probably feel better about the next one that I am planning. And if it doesn’t go smoothly, I can just roll with it, and accept the good, and toss out the bad. It’s all part of being a reluctant saint. I don’t dive in head first, but I keep after it even when I am not inclined to for my own sake.

Copyright 2013 Marya Jauregui

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About Author

Mommy to 3 high energy children, who demand her constant attention, and direction, Marya serves on the board of directors for a Domestic Violence non-profit. When not working, she is working out, taking the family for nature walks and adventures, or at the movies. She lives in Southern California and feels absolutely blessed to enjoy the beauty of the area every day.

7 Comments

  1. melanie jean juneau on

    I am wired exactly like you. No one would know that I am an introverted, perceptive, feeling sort because I greet people, lighting up with joy when we speak one on one. Also, I can only stand in front of a crowd when I am living and speaking from my centre and connected to His Spirit. BUT anxious when I entertain or live in my outer personality and mind. There is NO WAY will Mental Kung-Fu talk you out of anxiety. Solution? Shut down your left analytical brain and open up the creative side, perhaps with religious or spiritual music. Then delve deeply into your core self, hidden in Him. The Comforter will Protect and Defend you and you will be at peace. It really works

    • Thank you for your comment and suggestion. It is a process of letting go, and just moving forward. I am able to speak in front of others. It doesn’t mean I am an extrovert. We all have to do things outside our comfort zone. It’s what God calls us to do continually.
      Just like the new Pope. Really outside his comfort zone. But God called him anyway. We are all being stretched.

      • melanie jean juneau on

        exactly, letting go and letting myself be stretched- I never made the connection to the new Pope but you are right because his natural personality makes this call all the more authentic and powerful

  2. SO there with you. God is not going to pitchfork you into anything you can’t handle. We introverts know this, we tell ourselves this, our spouses tell us this…we still get all anxious and flustered…and then the day comes. More anxiety, but you know what? Everything goes well, usually. We can see where things aren’t perfect, but no one else can, everyone has a good time, and God does come into our midst. You’re right, it is just God’s way of stretching us, because He knows we won’t dare to do it on our own.

    • Thank you Ginny,
      Actually you reminded me of something interesting I heard. God actually DOES give us stuff that we can’t handle. The reason is this: He doesn’t want us to grow too sure of ourselves….to lean too much on our own abilities.
      He actually WANTS us to reach the end of our ropes, so that we will reach out to Him. We have to keep realizing that we can do all things through Him. In some ways, our introvertedness might be the thing gives us humility. In doing something challenging for ourselves, we are trusting, having faith, and showing character. If it is easy for us, there is much less value. ; )
      And YES….it did go smoothly….and I think it will be easier next time. : )

  3. Thank you for your post and your honesty. It’s funny that you would have this post available today, because just yesterday I was so surprised to know that I am an introvert. When you describe yourself, you are describing me – all of it. People seem drawn to me. I’ve been told that out of a room full of people, my demeaner stands out as very welcoming, but I thrive most when I am in solitude. I love my alone time. But it surprised me to know I am an introvert because none of my family or friends would ever describe me that way, as a matter of fact, they would describe me as out going and an extravert – what caught my attention, was a sign that said “when someone calls you, you send a text letting them know why you can’t talk at that moment.” That is me. I want to be with people, I love the idea of socializing, but I suffer horrible discomfort and anxiety when I am around a lot of people. I could never put my finger on WHY and now I know. Thank you

  4. Update….We have had a couple meetings with our small faith group, and even if I get a little anxious before hand…I completely enjoy these new friends and this hour that we share our faith together. It has been energizing, and special. I am so glad that I am hosting this group, as we sit at my kitchen table. It is intimate and diverse, and a reinforcement that we walk this journey together.

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