22 May 2008

some meditations of an introvert

I have taken the Myers Briggs Type Indicator three times in my life. The first two times, my personality type registered as INTJ, the last time as INTP. That last letter indicates preference in getting things decided versus preference in staying open to new options. In the language of the type indicator, that would be Judging (J) and Perceiving (P), respectively. I've always been near the middle of the continuum on that: barely a J or barely a P.

However, that first letter indicates preference in focusing on the outer world, Extraversion (E), as opposed to one's own inner world, Introversion (I). I've always wound up near the extreme end of the scale of Introversion. But then, that's something I've known all my life. It's basically the difference between being energized while among groups of people or being by oneself, or maybe with one other person.

Introverts aren't necessarily shy, but we frequently are. When I was growing up, I never thought of myself as introverted (not many kids understand terms like that!), I just felt like I was shy. Achingly, agonizingly shy! I hated what so many of my classmates loved: "free time." That was when the teacher had nothing for us to do; for the rest of the class period, we could just talk. What came so easily for the other kids was a nightmare for me. I can remember many times thinking, "I hate the way I am." And yet, somewhere deep inside, I still felt like that this is the way I was meant to be. But those realizations don't mean the struggle isn't still painful. Somehow, I survived the hell of junior high and high school. Junior high, or middle school, especially sucked.

Now, as a 43 year-old co-pastor, I'm in a position I would have never dreamed possible back in those days. My wife, our church's other co-pastor, has helped me greatly. She is certainly more extraverted than I, but not so much that she doesn't also cherish her quiet time alone. We help to balance each other.

(By the way, my Shetland Sheepdog insisted on having his photo posted. He feels that he needs to have more exposure to the public.)

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