I took a huge step outside my comfort zone and joined the ESL ministry at my church. Even though I’ve never seen myself as a teacher, I felt compelled to do it. So I did, and I love it. I have been teaching since January of this year with a break for the summer. I start back with a new class after Labor Day. I didn’t feel like my introversion would hinder my teaching abilities as I am accustomed and quite comfortable speaking in front of a group, but not comfortable speaking in a group. My students are wonderful and it is great learning about all of the different cultures.
This past weekend, my introversion was on full display and I am sure that it was very confusing to the group I was with. I, along with the other ESL teachers in the ministry, got together for a workshop held at our church. Everything was fine until we all went to lunch at a local restaurant. I drove and two of the other teachers rode with me and we were also meeting several others. At the restaurant there were about 10 of us total. Everyone was talking, except me. I was perfectly content listening, but I began to notice a few concerned faces. I tried to look as happy as possible without making anyone feel compelled to draw me in to the conversation. It happened anyway. I usually deal with everyone one-on-one so they have never seen me in group interactions. Then began the “Are you okay?” and the “I’m sorry, I haven’t let you say anything” not knowing that I prefer it that way. Then I had to explain that I was perfectly fine and enjoy listening. Which is true, but I was getting close to my limit and I wanted it to end. Most non-introverts can’t understand that you can enjoy their company, but in small doses. I was mostly uncomfortable with the possibility of being called out to participate. So I continued to nod and chomp away at my salad. Finally, it was time for us to leave. Of the two that rode with me, one of them was from another church and it was my first time meeting her that day. She had mentioned earlier that she lived on a farm and I was excited to talk to her about it. On the way back to the church I began asking her about the animals and her plans for expanding her farm and she shared many of the details with me. She and I had and amazing and lively conversation about how I am the first generation of my family to not grow up on a farm. Then she said “Where was this woman at lunch? Were you not feeling well? At first I thought I had done something to offend you.” Then I had to explain how I am in big groups. She seemed to understand and I didn’t expect her to understand completely. I can understand why introverted behavior can be confusing to people. I have often wondered if I should explain why I am the way I am.
Are there any introverts who have had similar situations? Has anyone ever called you out and you felt compelled to explain your behavior? If so, what did you say? What are your thoughts on explaining your introversion?
One of the important life lessons I have learned is there is power and happiness in vulnerability. Vulnerability in all areas of one’s life is liberating.
I was always the strong one in all of my relationships. For years I took pride in being the one who could seemingly handle anything. l was the one everyone ran to with their problems. I was the person everyone could count on when they were falling apart, but when I was going through a challenging situation, no one was there for me. If I began to talk with a friend or family member about something difficult that I was going through, I was brushed off. I was told things like, “If anyone can handle it, you can” or “I’m not worried about you. You are strong enough to handle it.” In reality, I wasn’t. When others assumed that I could weather any storm, I became resentful. Then I realized that I created those relationships and I taught my friends to expect only strength from me. I needed that same strong shoulder to cry on that I had so willingly given others. No one viewed me as vulnerable, and by being seemingly strong person, I had created one-sided relationships.
In every area of our lives we need the help, compassion, and love of others. I had mistaken vulnerability as weakness. Without being vulnerable, we create weak relationships and deny ourselves true and intimate connections. I have only recently embraced my vulnerability and by doing so, I have been greatly rewarded. By letting my guard down my friendships have gotten stronger. I am beginning to get the help and support that everyone needs in life. There is strength in being vulnerable.
In the next few posts I will continue to share how I have benefited from letting my guard down and being open to the help and support of others. I would like to challenge all of us to free ourselves from the burden of handling our own problems.
Today’s Writing Prompt:
Imagine you know one of the world greatest mysteries and it was your job to reveal it to the world. It could be the identity of Jack the Ripper, how the pyramids were built, or if the chicken came before the egg.
Today’s writing prompt:
Solve an unsolved mystery. Try to explain the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, uncover the identity of Jack the Ripper, or the reason why there have been so many movie theater attacks and shootings.
Have you ever been in a situation when you didn’t get the opportunity to say what you had to say? Take that opportunity to create a great story. You can literally rewrite history. Turn back the hands of time and get it out. Make it as colorful and outrageous as you like.
As I have mentioned in a previous post, I have a job at the university I graduated from and am surrounded by many people with interests similar to mine. Recently, I, along with some of my coworkers who are also English graduates, decided we would take out an English faculty member for lunch. Our first lunch was with the head of the English department. We had a wonderful time and got some really good advice and encouragement from him. He even gave us books! This past week we took out another faculty member. This lunch was equally as enjoyable, but in a different way. This faculty member made plans to host all of us along with our children to her home. She also gave us encouragement and advice, but the tone was entirely different than our other lunch. I noticed that I and my other introverted friend were much more talkative. We all laughed, made jokes, told stories, and contributed equally to the conversation. We were much more relaxed. We were getting comfortable in our little community.
It is very important for all of us to build a community. Even us introverts need a community. I am not saying that we will grow into extroverts, but it will make things a lot more comfortable for us in group situation when you have built a community. We may have to seek some people out and it may happen by accident as it did for me, but let it happen and give it a chance. There is no reason why you can’t pick the people you want to be around. We all need community and others to share our life experiences with. It can be a community based on our interests, our faith, or whatever you wish. As introverts we would be doing ourselves and others a disservice by not experiencing the benefits of being part of a community. Those who aren’t introverts need to get used to who we are. They need to see that we really do enjoy people, but we seriously need alone time. It is important for us to be understood and that cannot happen if we don’t take a little step outside of our comfort zones.
Today’s Writing Prompt: Imagine that one of your favorite mythical characters or animals actually existed. What would you do?
This writing prompt was inspired by an extremely funny and sort of sad incident that I experienced with a coworker years ago. My coworker, who was a very intelligent and articulate man with a serious drug problem, told me a very interesting story. I came in to work one day this coworker began to tell me that he saw a unicorn in the parking lot. He went on to describe how beautiful the unicorn was and that it came within an inch of his face before running away. Then he said he ran after the unicorn for a while before losing him. My coworker had the most convincing tone and coupled with my ignorance of his drug problem, I was becoming excited. I really wanted there to be a unicorn in the parking lot (I knew better, but a girl can still hope). As a child I loved unicorns and always hoped they were real, but later that day I found out about my coworker’s drug problem. After telling his unicorn story to several other people, he was asked to take some time off and was referred to a drug addiction and recovery program.
This prompt is for all those who are still hoping for the existence of unicorns.