Sometimes, when I’ve been feeling happy for a while, a feeling creeps in that says I’m in danger of becoming complacent. You’re becoming boring, it says; you’re not living up to your potential. So I decide that I need to change things up a little bit–meet new people, try new adventures. Maybe try to fit in a bit more with what I see as culturally desirable; try to become the sort of person who can “work a room,” or at least not stand frozen with a tight feeling in my chest and my mind spinning blankly as I survey a large group of people. Sometimes I even forget who I am and think that I’m making or have made great strides toward extroversion.
And so I go on a tri-ward campout with 200 people.
And spend the subsequent few days recovering.
It’s frustrating, sometimes, not to be able to do the things I see others doing and even enjoying. Surrounded by people who thrive on camp competitions (this year’s events included the Monkey Launch and kind of a human Boggle) and standing awkwardly amid throngs of loudly cheering teammates, it’s easy to forget that other introverts do exist, and to feel like the whack job with no sense of humor or team spirit. (I’ve since figured out that other introverts may, in fact, be there–but they’re so overwhelmed by the chaos and noise that they don’t feel like talking to anyone, either.)
Fortunately, God watches out for me. Someone I didn’t know all that well followed a prompting and asked me to go on a walk to a beautiful, quiet place by the lake when it became obvious that the environment was too much for me. For the rest of the time I was there, I enjoyed the wonderfully understanding company of several introvert friends who, knowing their limits, had wisely arrived much later than I had and thus hadn’t yet been overstimulated to the point of meltdown.
So as I mentioned, I’ve been convalescing for the past couple of days. I’ve re-read Jonathan Rauch’s brilliant essay Caring for Your Introvert and had some great talks with some terrific friends. I’ve promised one of these friends that I won’t attend the campout next year. 🙂 I’ve caught up on sleep. And God has reminded me that he loves me for the ISFJ that I am, that he doesn’t want me to compare myself to others or fret that I’m going to miss out on something because I’m not outgoing or interesting enough, that I really do love my life these days, and that, though maybe I don’t have a vast circle of party-person friends, the ones I do have are absolutely wonderful.