Forgive me for navel gazing. It's a very misty, English-looking day here and it prompts me to self-examination for some reason.
You know those Myers-Briggs personality tests? I have taken them in numerous places, and I usually end up in the ISFJ category: introverted, sensing, feeling, judging. When I see those words, I'm rather sobered. They don't sound appealing. If I had to give those out as credentials before developing a friendship, I might find myself being passed over.
When I read further clarification of my "introverted" designation, the phrase "moderately expressed" pops up. That means I'm not as introverted as other members of my family. We only have one real extrovert in the family, the rest of us are the introverted kind. I wonder, though, if I'm not really a moderately expressed introvert or merely a frustrated extrovert.
I long for close companionship. I love to have close friends, to talk about deep things, and have long conversations. I am not the type who needs a large group of friends which I have to juggle, but a few are nice, I have discovered.
When I was in high school, for my 16th birthday, I got a phone in my room; a girl's dream. The funny thing was, the person I spoke to on that phone the most was a boy, and it wasn't the romantic type of boy. We were just good friends. He was interesting and deep, funny with a great, dry sense of humour. I still keep in touch with him, actually, through the miracle which is Facebook. We would talk for hours over the phone about all sorts of things. That is the kind of friendship I like. The only person I have that kind of friendship with now is my husband, which perhaps is only right.
That being said, I realize that God created people for fellowship. He places us into a body of other people. We are meant to interact with others. I feel that lack more often than not, and that leads me to wonder if I am truly an introvert. I was very shy as a child, but I think it was more just being cantankerous. There is a very telling family photo of us where I am about three, on my dad's lap in the sunshine. I am supposed to be looking at the camera, but I am clearly snarking at my older brother who is beside me, telling him not to look at me. Apparently, that was a common request on my part, from not just my brother, but my grandmother, and the neighbourhood dog that would hang around our yard.
There is a lot of talk about being introverted or extroverted. Recently, David Murray and Tim Challies featured the discussion on the Connected Kingdom podcasts, and I liked what Tim said about not using our personality designation of introverted as an excuse to sin. My husband is an introvert, but he's also in a business where he must deal with people a lot. He can't use his "I'm an introvert" excuse to avoid returning the phone call of someone. My son, the extrovert, can't use his constant need for human interaction as an excuse to disrupt a class at school.
Which bring me back to the frustrated extrovert thing. One of the comments from a teacher when I was in 8th grade said something like this: "Kim has done very well this term, but would have much more success in class if she could learn to curtail her giggling." I have that actual report card in a box somewhere, and I remember that phrase: curtail her giggling. Yes, I giggled. I still can, actually. How did the girl who clearly was disruptive in class (I also got booted out of my French class on one occasion that year for talking during a test) end up as a "moderately expressed introvert?"
Life is definitely consistent: not only do I not fit in with women, I don't fit in properly with personality designations.
But all of this is just silly introspection that doesn't really have a lot of value at the end of the day. Introvert or extrovert, I'm called to be in community with the Body of Christ. It may not always be easy. I find it a difficult balance to strike between liking my privacy and my alone time and really longing for good friendship. I sometimes wonder if my introversion is more a function of just not finding the right person to "click" with, or perhaps, like many people, I fear rejection. I know who my real friends are, and I'm so blessed to have them, but they do require work, and they have been nurtured over time. A few trusted friends are better than a bunch I feel the need to guard myself from.
I'm really hoping the fog lifts. We are promised sun today, and I'm looking forward to that. And I'm swearing off navel gazing for a while now that I have that out of my system.