Despite what some people believe, I am a classic introvert. I have learned to love people and I can even mix and mingle with folks, but on many days I still reach a point where I need alone time. My mother and I often debate about my desire for this alone time. Sometimes it takes the form of her asking me why I’m so eager to go to bed when I’m home visiting for the weekend; other times, it takes the form of her directly telling me my introvert ways are a bit ridiculous. I let her talk, but am intentional in not diminishing the value of the introvert in me. I’ve learned introverts have many great qualities, we are deep thinkers and incredibly loyal friends. We give good advice and are incredible problem solvers. We just need time and space and alone moments.
And while I’ve come to learn and appreciate the great things about being an introvert, there are moments like tonight when I feel like my introversion leads to failing moments. After a long week in the office, I decided I needed some self care. I found out about an event a few weeks ago that I was going to attend tonight. So . . . I left the office on time, came home to change my clothes quickly, got in the car and headed out. I knew I’d be about 15 minutes late arriving at the event, but that was no big deal, it wouldn’t be a problem. Then, I missed my turn and got delayed another five minutes. That was the trigger. When I arrived, there were lots of cars in the parking lot and no one else seemed to be late getting there (sure those people existed, I just didn’t see them). I panicked, I couldn’t get out of the car. I tried really, really hard, but the thought of people looking at me as I walked in the room was so terrifying that I circled the parking lot, paused in a parking and ultimately left. I drove 30 minutes for self-care, panicked, and left . . .
I was disappointed in myself, but my response wasn’t shocking to me. This used to be my norm. I remember driving to the gym on many occasions, parking my car, turning off the ignition, then leaving because I couldn’t pull myself together to get out of the car and go inside. It’s been a really long time since this has happened to me, but for introverts, this happens. And while I am completely comfortable with being an introvert, I felt a great deal of shame of tonight because fear and anxiety won. I could physically feel the shame gripping my body (there were almost tears) because I didn’t have the strength to overcome the fear and anxiety I was feeling. I felt like I failed, but I didn’t. I honored my truth in the moment and opted to protect me. My emotional safety was more important than being out and about tonight.
There are some who would shame me for my response tonight. You see, in response to things like what I went through tonight, people have a tendency to say things like, “God has not given us a spirit of fear”. And while I respect that line of thinking (and trust me, I’ve been told this exact thing before, along with depression is not of God), I do not agree with it. What happened tonight is no reflection of the God in me, it is a reflection of my humanness and my human need to feel safe and be away from the crowd at times. Yes, in some ways I feel like I failed majorly tonight, but in other ways, I feel like the crowd just wasn’t what I needed to be restored on this night. Whatever the explanation, I wouldn’t wish this off the charts introversion on anyone . . . it’s a challenging space to live in.
I’ve got another event next Friday night. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been feeling a bit of anxiety about it all week. Deep down I want to go and be present, but I’m just not sure I can do it . . .
Le sigh . . .