Friday, March 30, 2012

love, your friendly neighborhood introvert.

i need to tell you: i want to be in a million places at once, i want to live every day lives with each of you, but i can't seem to splinter myself into the many pieces i would need to send them off in all the right directions.

i want to travel and i want to stay put, i want to be home everywhere and never a guest, i want to fade into the woodwork of the daily rhythms and have a quiet and steady presence in your life.  i want to make friends out of my family and family out of my friends and i've afraid our threads of connection will begin to fray over time because i can't be there for you the way i think i should.  if i could be with you for every sad night and every sunset and every cup of coffee, i would.  i want to hear all your stories and be there to make new ones, and i don't want to forget the moments that have shaped you and made you unique.

i don't know how to focus my energy and love because each person who stands in front of me captivates me and i think to myself, there is nothing more important than knowing him or her.  i want to be present for it all, i want our roots to grow down together, but i don't know if this is even possible, this connection i imagine.  i don't know how to make you, all of you, the priorities i want you to be.

i think some of this tension inside of me happens because i am an introvert in a culture that celebrates extroverts.  i read some wise words by a fellow introvert today and i felt a leap of recognition in my heart.  here, adam writes about what it feels like to be seen as less loving or less generous because he does not match the typical out-going extrovert profile:

I was tired of people telling me what I wasn’t...(so) I started reframing the central issue: it’s not sufficient to say that (introverts) lose energy in social interaction. Instead, we are people who thrive in solitude, who gain energy and creativity and fire in our precious times alone. Some of our best moments come when we are lost in our inner worlds. Most of us need more of them, not fewer. 
Thus, it may actually be more pleasurable – in terms of the good feelings released in the brain – for us to be at home than it is for us to be at a party or church activity. It’s not that we don’t like people or are standoffish, it's that it actually feels better sometimes for us to be alone than in a crowd...In that case, it's not that we are choosing out of something, it's that we are choosing, joyfully and purposely, another activity.  

so i am thinking of you, my loved ones, and i am trying to love you as best i know how, even if there seems to be long quiet stretches or a too-busy schedule standing in the way.  the truth is, i don't always know what it means for me to love well without simply trying to copy the habits and behaviors of those i see around me, the people who seem beloved and active and always participating.  i end up trying to imitate the extroverts, rather than loving you through my own language and rhythm of love.

so i can't help but smile in agreement with adam when he concludes,

Sometimes (introverts) will gently say no in order that we can joyfully disappear into our inner worlds, because compassion and empathy stirs in there. Our love for others may be slow and quiet, walking one small step at a time. Yet you will know our love on those times we lay down our rights to solitude in order to give ourselves sacrificially to others. 

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