The Invisible Introvert

mpj03862730000[1]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?

*Excerpt taken from MEMORY BOX SECRETS by Brenda Anderson

Comments 12

  1. “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.”

    The above statements are key. Nothing truer.

    I wouldn’t have pegged you for an introvert, Bren, yet I recognize all the things you described and can infer them from what I’ve learned about you in posts, comments, and emails. You’re a lovely introvert if, in fact, you are one.

    I’m somewhere in between. I do like alone-ness. I prefer one-on-one always, even at group gatherings where I know most of the people. However, I can be a drama queen, relish speaking in front of people when I’m passionate about what I have to say, and can be outgoing when necessary. I’m a Type B+ I just told my husband the other day – he’s a definite Type A. I can remain in the shadows, but I can step out of them if “necessary”. I don’t like or desire confrontation, but no longer will I remain silent when wrong is being presented or acted upon.

    You are a lovely, gifted woman and I don’t want you selling yourself short or mis-“diagnosing” your fun-loving spirit. You’re a total blessing, introverted or not.

    1. Thank you, Nicole. 🙂

      I would say I’m the classic introvert. Assuming there’s an introvert/extrovert spectrum, I fall way to the left. I’ve always dreaded parties–and with all this info coming out about introversion, now I understand why. Anytime I go some place where mingling is required, I have to give myself a pep talk beforehand. Then I force myself to engage in small talk–usually asking questions of those I’m talking to. Nothing is more exhausting. As I said above, even going to church can be tiring.

      Having a blog is stepping way out of my comfort zone. Commenting on other blogs is difficult too. But so many blessings have come from reading others’ blogs & from writing my own, that I’ll keep pushing on. After all, I don’t believe God placed us here to be *comfortable.* And it’s when we stretch ourselves–beyond what we believe we’re capable of stretching–that we grow.

  2. Great post, Brenda! You nailed so many thought patterns and actions!

    I agree with the mingling – don’t like it at all! But, I do go to parties to see the people I want to talk to and it is my way of being seen. I’m in the middle of the action! I’m here and I’m in! Then I attach myself to those I know best or busy myself.

    I also want to be seen as friendly, kind and someone others want to be around, but often the conversation doesn’t happen unless there is specific reason. In this case, I’m more than willing to talk.

    I tend to enjoy very deep conversation, not small talk or networking. I think many people need others who are willing to go deep and God made us to meed that need! We don’t need to be everyone’s best friend, but if we are willing to be aware of what He is showing us, we can step in and be someone very unique to another even if it’s just for a moment.

    1. Mari – I’m right with you when it comes to deep conversation. I’d much rather partake in a conversation with substance rather than small talk. Being a good listener is a large part of going deep, and I think people sense that. As you said, “God made us to meet that need.”

      Well said, Mari.

  3. “7. Downtime doesn’t feel unproductive to you.”
    After 30 years of marriage, I think my extroverted husband finally, sorta, understands this about me! If I’m on the go too many days in a row, I MUST have time at home, whether it’s doing nothing, putting up tomatoes, or watching TV. I just need that “home” time, wagons circled, just family – and sometimes I need it to be just ME and Netflix! LOL

    1. I hear ya, Regina. Our culture says go-Go-GO! all the time. That’s a sure-fire way to make me a little insane. My family can always tell when I need that rest. Just ME and and a book is usually the perfect remedy.

  4. In some ways I am more introverted than you, Brenda. If you had not first asked me out, I don’t know if we would be married for 26 years. In my career in am more outgoing and passionate about what I do when talking to people. In a party setting I am more likely to set back and listen than join in the conversation.

    1. Yep, we’re both regular party-animals. 😉 But you need to be around people more than I do. I think you’d go crazy if you spent 4 days by yourself like I do on my winter writing retreats. To me that’s heaven.

  5. I go to parties or church get-togethers because I feel I “ought to.” Like Mari, I “want to be seen as friendly, kind and someone others want to be around.” It even has a spiritual dimension, but I believe those are things God wants me to do. But I’m more comfortable settled in a corner for a one-on-one conversation. I HATE small talk, which makes it really hard to get to know someone new. I’m always sure they will think I’m weird (or worse, showing off) when they find out I write books or any of the other things that make it hard to fit in. It’s pretty difficult to promote your books if you don’t mention what you do. So there is another “ought.”

    Thanks for the post, Brenda. Intorvert or extrovert, you are so right that we need to strive to be who God made us to be.

    1. “I go to parties or church get-togethers because I feel I “ought to.”” That’s so true, LeAnne. And, like you, I do believe God wants us to be out there.

      Chances are that one-on-one conversation you get into will have a far greater impression than the small-talk conversation. That’s a gift.

      And I hear you regarding conversations about writing. I’ve found that’s a quick conversation staller. Yes, we need to network, but there’s nothing more difficult, is there?

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