Lauren ran her finger down the yellowed, curling wallpaper, a final, yet disposable reminder of her deceased mother. Wallpaper was meant to be pasted up and look pretty and generally be ignored, to blend into the background and not be noticed, to have no true value.
Just like herself.
Always merging into the background with no one noticing her, except for those who occasionally teased her. But, like good wallpaper, Lauren ignored their hurtful comments, letting them slide off her. But over time, even the hurt left its smudged fingerprints. She was expendable, just like the final remnants of her mother’s work.*
Introverts have been making a lot of noise recently. Facebook has been full of links to descriptions of the introvert, begging the extroverted world to understand us. Here’a link to one of my favorite articles, 23 Signs You’re Secretly an Introvert. (The only one I disagree with is #2-You go to parties, but not to meet people. I actively avoid parties and large gatherings. Nothing stresses me more. To be honest, mingling at church stresses me.)
With all the information out there now, I wonder if it’s helped the world understand the introvert.
But perhaps understanding isn’t what we want the most, rather it’s to be seen, to not be invisible. We don’t want to be the center of attention, but we don’t want to be ignored either.
A few years ago at a local writers group, I had the privilege of learning from gifted author Jonathan Friesen. Within his talk he gave this statement: “Everyone, no matter how old, is desperate to know the answers to two questions: Can you see me? and Do you like what you see? Such simple questions. But if you don’t feel the answers are yes and yes, it can destroy a life.”
Can anyone else relate?
I cringe every time a news story comes on about someone who’s committed a crime, and the words used to describe that person are *loner* or *keeps to him(her)self*. It NEVER excuses the crime, but I wonder if at that person’s core, they longed to be noticed.
Introverts are experts at blending in. If people are ignoring us, we pick up a book, write a story, draw a picture, anything to show we’re occupied. If we fail at inserting ourselves into into a conversation, rather than stand alone, we make yourselves useful, maybe volunteer in the kitchen or begin picking up garbage. Whatever it takes to demonstrate that we’re not alone.
When that’s exactly what we are. It’s far easier to remain home alone than to be at a gathering … and be alone.
Honestly, I don’t have any answers to how introverts become visible. How do you say “Here I am!” without feeling disingenuous, without drawing stares?
Maybe the important thing is to just be who God created us to be. He sees us, hears us. No one understands our heart’s longings like He does. Even when we feel alone in that crowd, He is not ignoring us. He doesn’t promise that life will be easy, but that He will be with us every step of that difficult life.
Are you an introvert? What’s your story? What do you do to be *seen* by others?