5 Jun

“Pastor Lindsay seemed quite shy and had difficulty engaging in conversation with others.”

There it is again.

This isn’t the first appearance of such observations.  When I was going through candidacy [the process through which the ELCA approves pastors for ordination], I was required to take a psych eval and meet with a psychologist to go over the results.

I remember driving to this strange office building in Madison and sitting in a sterile room with this doctor.  He drew a line on his white board.  On the left side of the line, he wrote Introvert.  On the right, he wrote Extrovert.  Then he put an X where I had come out on the exam I had taken.  It looked something like this –

Introvert                                                                        Extrovert

He told me engaging in the world as a pastor and such an extreme introvert would be difficult.  In a candidacy meeting that followed, the committee told me I should “work on my introvert nature,” which I took to mean as change.  Being an introvert wasn’t acceptable for a pastor.  I had to talk more and be more extroverted is what I heard them telling me.  Introvert became a dirty word.

The first line of this post comes from an evaluation I just received.  It came from people whom I only met once; that was their first impression of me.  Quite shy with difficulty engaging in conversation.  You know, maybe I was.  But that certainly wasn’t my goal.  I tried so hard not to be.

And the truth of it is, I met with this group of people one night for a couple hours and I was exhausted for the rest of the week afterwards.  Literally – the rest of the week.  I spent so much energy to be – what I thought was – talkative and out-going for those couple hours.  [Because that’s what an introvert does – becomes exhausted from being with people and doing their best to play an extrovert.]  And still, my version of talkative and out-going was their shy and disengaged.  *sigh*

I am an introvert and sure, I suppose that sometimes might come across as shy or disengaged.  That’s not intentional  Sitting in silence doesn’t bother me one tiny bit, neither does listening more than talking.  Sure, I will avoid small talk when I can [Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, calls small talk a horror for many introverts.  In certain situations, I could agree.]; if I see someone I know in the grocery store, I just might go down a different aisle  to avoid a hello and how are you.  [That’s sad but true.  But, of course, I’ve never avoided you.  Promise.]

Punch to the gut or not, I’m owning it.  This is who I am.  Hello, my name is Lindsay and I’m an introvert.  Let’s have an in-depth one-on-one conversation and then have quiet time by ourselves.

5 Responses to “a-punch-to-my-introvert’s-stomach.”

  1. Sabrina June 6, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

    Hollah to the introverts of the world! Those other crazies do WAY too much talking.

  2. Eric Clapp June 7, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

    From the title of this blog on, I kept thinking “I think we’ve talked about Susan Cain’s book, but if not I should comment and recommend it.” That was crescendoing until I reached the point where you referenced it. That book helped me look at introversion/extraversion in a whole different light. So then when your committee said to “work on your introvert nature”, I laughed. It’s who you are. [In my defensive state, I even thought “tell them to work on their blue-eyed nature!”] Keep on owning it, Lindsay!

    • Lindsay June 9, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

      Totally read Cain’s book. Loved it. Felt empowered by it … and then I got that evaluation back and I think I regressed to sitting in that candidacy meeting once again and being told that being an introvert wasn’t acceptable. Thanks for your encouragement, Eric!

  3. former supervisor and current friend and colleague June 9, 2013 at 7:07 am #

    Your “stomach” has plenty of muscle to handle these comments. You have an impressive 6-pack of compassion, insight, creativity, dedication, enthusiasm, and vibrant faith. What more does the world and our church need (a rhetorical question for someone who is doubting one’s abilities)!

    • Lindsay June 9, 2013 at 8:52 pm #

      Aww, shucks. Thanks for being so kind and encouraging. It just sucks that these particular people will never see that because they cancelled me out at shy and disengaging! [I think the word “subdued” came up too … they just weren’t in the right environment to see me teach the hippo song to a bunch of day campers.]

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