Posts Tagged ‘Introvert’

On Getting Out More

I was taken by surprise by these hibiscus blooms even though they were right outside my front door. I hadn’t noticed them for three days because I had stayed inside. It made me realize I really need to get out more. Click the photo below to hear more of my story:

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Starting a New Year Presently

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Over the past few years I’ve noticed bloggers doing this thing where they pick a word for their year. I don’t totally know how it is supposed to work, and since I was doing well just to start this thing part-way into last year, I didn’t worry about picking a word. I just needed to start.

But this year, I wanted to pick a word. Well, it’s not so much that I wanted to pick a word as that God kept laying this one idea on my heart–over and over. So, I wanted to put a word to it for 2014.

The idea that God has been nudging me toward has come with a number of different words: “showing up,” being “incarnational,” and such like.

Basically, my natural inclination is to retreat. When I’m super stressed out, I probably need a good stretch of solitude to right myself.

I don’t withdraw to avoid conflict. In fact, I’m surprisingly comfortable navigating interpersonal rifts and engaging opposing viewpoints.

But I do like to escape into my inner-world. I have a super-active thought-life that doesn’t slow down–ever. In my previous post titled Why I Love Conferences Even Though I’m an Introvert (click the title to read that post), I explained, “I can be in a crowd of people and be totally withdrawn into my own thought-world.”

I don’t consciously try to shut people out, but this natural inclination to retreat does mean that I have to consciously make myself get out, reach out, and be connected to others.

At first when we moved to this super rural community I was a little troubled by the fact that there wasn’t a paying job for me way out here in the Texas countryside. As time has gone on, what I have found is that this easy country life has been a great opportunity to do the writing that I have wanted to do. And the preaching & speaking opportunities have come just often enough that I can bring in a little income for my family.

All the same, this country life has made it easier than ever in my life to retreat to a fault. And my dear husband is so supportive of my writing and preaching and speaking that he lets me retreat whenever I need to. This is great when I need it, but not great when I am needed elsewhere.

So the big challenge for me is pushing myself to get outside of myself more despite how easy it is to retreat. With that, my word for 2014 is…

Present

I’ve never been very big on New Year’s Resolutions–mostly because making resolutions all-of-a-suddenly, out of nowhere seems like a recipe for failure. But this word, this idea of being present has come from quite some time of reflection and I am indeed resolved to work at it in 2014.

Some specific ways I want to live this out are:

  • Getting up & ready by X time everyday, so I can be ready for unexpected opportunities to be present with others.
  • Putting events on my personal calendar as soon as I learn of them so I can make sure to be present at events that are too easy to forget without planning for them.
  • Writing on the blog 1-2 original posts each week so I can continue to cultivate a consistent online presence.

This is new territory for me in choosing a word and making resolutions. But New Year’s is generally an upswing for me as my birthday falls on the third day of each new year (yes today). So, I am optimistic about my resolve to live into this intentionality of presence. Pluswhich, somehow 2013 was the best year of my life so far, so I want to be fully present for whatever 2014 might bring.

This post is part of the January 2014 Synchroblog: New Beginnings. See what other Synchroblog contributors are saying about their New Beginnings:

How Being “Relevant” Eludes Me

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This is my view at my bistro table on the porch where I do a lot of my thinking, reading and writing.

One of my biggest challenges as a creative type is that of being “relevant” with my content. I fail at relevance on at least two counts, but I still want to believe what I say matters.

Relevance Fail #1

My first and most obvious failure to be relevant is related to what a theologian reportedly taught his students: to examine life with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. I’m sure that is brilliant, but, as my mother would say, “it’s not my gift.”

Maybe it should be my gift. But it isn’t.

The thing is, it takes me a long time to consume media and truly process it in such a way to be able to say or write something meaningful about it:

  • In my 30+ years of exposure to the Bible, I still have only begun to scratch the surface.
  • I still listen to music that I got in my teens and early twenties–not because I’m afraid to try new music, but because I’m still avidly enjoying the old stuff.
  • There are books that I read 10 and 20 years ago that I am just now mining for deeper insights than ever before–I’m nowhere near finished processing them.

I’m still dwelling on ancient holy writings, vintage music, and books from yesteryear. Shallow treatment of ideas, texts or other media is not in my nature. As an introvert I go deep with each source rather than branching widely into numerous outlets.

I’m not saying I ignore current events. Don’t get me wrong. It’s just that my brain won’t hold pages and pages of the latest news on top of everything else I am still processing.

In my human limitations I have to pick and choose the sources with which I go deep and those that I skim over or ignore. If I ever seem aloof, it is because my brain is deeply engaged in mulling over old information instead of absorbing the latest tidbits.

I fail at relevance because I don’t react to current events in a timely & meaningful way.

Relevance Fail #2

The other way that relevance eludes me is just in general trying to figure out what my readers (or potential readers) want to read and being able to deliver it.

I mean, I have a ton of ideas about what I want to write about. But I just never know what’s going to resonate with people.

I know other bloggers have dealt with this too, the idea that something you think is brilliant gets only a cool reception whereas something you just dash off quickly gets shared all over the place.

This is also a struggle for me because what I’m doing on the blog is, at least in part, a coming of age. Much of what is here is just me blabbing about my issues, my preoccupations, my fear of being irrelevant, etc. I want this space to be for us, but many times I need it to be for me.

So, I fail at relevance again because my content ends up being more self-serving than might be helpful. And when I try to be helpful to others, I’m still uncertain what to write about.

Reason to Hope

It’s possible, despite my relevance-challenges, that what I write and say can still matter:

  • The very depth with which I engage media actually serves me well in providing troves of ideas for what to write about. My constant thinking and processing of old information often leads to creative insights in the here and now.
  • Even though I’m not always quite sure what my readers need, I am listening. I may not be relevant by nature, but I am very relational. By being where people are and engaging with them I get a better sense of what they need.

What has been really cool is that since I started blogging and writing more I’ve been having more interesting conversations. Once I started putting my ideas out there and offering my two cents on just whatever I have gotten into great discussions with folks.

I’m finding new depths of engagement with people–even those I know best in my life. Just by putting myself out here in some way I have become more incarnational, more present to people.

Even if I am still processing old information and tossing around my own personal baggage, I’m here.

I’m showing up and making myself available. And I’m pretty sure that matters.

Why I Love Conferences Even Though I’m an Introvert

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I’m a certified introvert–one of those people that draws energy and strength from time alone to think and process. I’ve taken the Jung Type personality tests numerous times and have flip-flopped on everything else except introversion. With all my need for alone time it always surprises me how much I love conferences. But I do! I’ve been thinking about why and here is what I’ve come up with.

Expanding my world of ideas

A common description of introverts says that we like to spend time in our “inner world of ideas.” And that is very true of me. I can be in a crowd of people and be totally withdrawn into my own thought-world. If someone says my name, I’ll come back to the group. If you need me, you will have my undivided attention. But if you don’t need me right now I’ll just be here in my head.

The thing about a conference is that it feeds this inner world of mine. New ideas from keynotes and workshops get added into my own mix of thoughts. I think pretty good thoughts on my own, but I think even better thoughts when my brain has more tumbling around up there. The talks I go to at conferences energize my introverted self because they give me more to think about.

One-on-one conversations

Another thing about introverts is we tend to be more comfortable interpersonally with one-on-one connections. Having gobs of people together in one place can be a bit overwhelming (see above about withdrawing into my inner world). This in itself can be reason enough for many introverts to avoid conferences altogether.

I don’t let that sea of people scare me away though. Instead, when I go to a conference I like to carve out time for deeper, more intimate, conversations. Sometimes this means talking with my husband about what I’m learning. But oftentimes I find one or two other participants that I can talk with about what we’re thinking about, what life is like these days, or how we’ve been growing in our faith. By nurturing one-on-one connections at a conference, my introvert friendship needs are wonderfully met.

The rule of two feet

Even though my inner-world of ideas and my intimate friendships can be nourished at conferences, there are times when the whole thing gets to be a little too much for me. Sometimes my brain is too full for just one more remix of “let’s all say where we’re from and what we do and who we came with and why we’re here and what we really, really love about being here.” Sometimes I just can’t do another thing with another human being.

When I feel like that I exercise what my Deaconess sisters refer to as “The Rule of Two Feet.” We have this understanding among us at our Deaconess annual meeting that if a given scheduled activity is too much, or if you are just too tired and need a nap and you can’t come to every, every thing it is okay. We trust your “two feet” to take you where you need to be throughout the event. Even though other conferences don’t state an official two-feet rule, I find that my ability to appreciate any conference is enhanced by respecting my two-feet.

True to type?

While it may not make sense on the surface that a confirmed introvert could be so exuberant about a conference, it works for me. In fact, paying attention to my introvert needs is what makes a conference so great for me. I don’t speak for all introverts because their experience could be very different from mine. I’m simply sharing what works for me and why I love conferences.

What about you? How do you feel about conferences? How does your personality influence how you participate in large group events?