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Becoming an Introvert


I came to this topic in a kind of roundabout way. Let me ‘splain. Someone else in their blog referred to a Desiring God post that called being an introvert an a sin. Someone else on twitter posted a bit from a devotional that also said that being an introvert was sinful. What?? How can a personality trait that’s built into you be a sin? Well, that’s not what I’m going to talk about. Just know that they are wrong. I’ll deal with that craziness at another time.

I’ve pretty much always been an extrovert. I’m told that I was shy in elementary school, but that was really just because my mom was so extroverted that it was hard to get past her talkativeness. I just kind of hid behind her skirts because I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. But, when we kids were playing by ourselves (neighborhood kids - I only have one brother), I was apparently the one always in charge. Mom looked out the window one day and said, “My, she’s bossy!” We call it leadership, Mom!

I started to find myself in middle school and high school. The fundamentalist Christian elementary school that I went to was not conducive to me breaking out of my shell. But, the public schools that I transferred to had lots of extracurricular activities and advanced academic classes that let me find places to shine and people to hang out with. And there was far less restraint on things like simple conversation. I was in band and Z-Club and had a great time!

By then it was clear that I was an extrovert. I got energy from being around people. My mom loved to have people over to the house, and I was happy to help clean and cook and host. It was a blast! My college years were more of what you would expect from an extrovert except that I didn’t party. Since I didn’t drink or like loud music, the bar scene wasn’t for me, but I was very involved with APO, a service fraternity, which kept me quite busy, as well as taking classes and hanging out with friends.

My chosen profession was perfect for an extrovert. Being a family doctor meant that I saw patients all day, every day. And I loved it. Granted, some of those 12 hour days did tire me out, but, overall, seeing and tending to patients was my goal in life. Some of those interactions were short and shallow - diagnosing and treating a sinus infection. Others were prolonged and intense - taking care of a family who was welcoming a new baby into the family, including staying with them through labor, delivery, and post-partum. Family medicine is hard work, but I had the personality for it.

And then came chronic migraine. In 2006, I had to quit medicine. The pain was too bad and I was too fatigued to keep up with the simple work of being with people. It’s been 13 years. They haven’t been bad years (although there have been plenty of bad days). I helped homeschool the kids and get them ready for college. We owned a yarn store for several years before Patrick started teaching school.

But, I’m not an extrovert anymore. I’m tired. I have breakfast or lunch once or twice a week with friends. I go to church most Sundays. I stop by the library and chat with the librarian sometimes. I’ll visit the craft store and talk with the owner on occasion. But any interaction lasting more than an hour makes me tired. And many days, I’m just too darn tired for any interaction.

I never saw this in my future. I never anticipated chronic migraine. I never expected to be this tired all the time. I never thought that my social life would be social media. I never expected to become an introvert. But, here I am.

And Jesus is totally OK with it. We talk about it a lot. He’s not ready to take away the chronic migraine, so we walk through it. And I’m my introverted self now.

Catherine