My boyfriend and I are as opposite as opposite can be in many ways, but we have some significant similarities that revolve around our outlook on life. But let’s talk about some of the differences.
I’m 40 and he’ll be 49 next month. He’s from Kentucky…a state, if I’m being 100% honest, never really crossed my mind other than in U.S. History class while growing up in sunny California. He’s a 22-year army veteran and I have spent my whole life as a civilian (if I wasn’t in a relationship with him I probably wouldn’t even be using the word civilian). He strongly dislikes mushrooms and I LOVE mushrooms (almost a deal breaker right there!….kidding 🙂 ). He’s a high functioning extrovert and I am a high functioning introvert. The latter played out a few years ago while we were visiting his family and friends in Kentucky. Story time!
Q is very sociable, and I am too to a certain extent. However, because he’s an extrovert, he gets energy from socializing with other people. Me—after about a significant amount of time around more than say 5 people, I’m pretty much drained and need to reenergize. What this means is that if someone doesn’t know this about me, they may think I’m being standoffish, when in reality, I’ve just depleted my energy level. (Now pause right here and imagine the ways your life can improve by knowing this about yourself and those closest to you. Game changer!)
Q is from a small town in Kentucky where many people know each other. He has a lot of childhood friends that still live there actually. I loved visiting and experiencing this. Quite the opposite of my experience growing up in bigger cities in California (and Jadyn and I loved their Kentucky accents!) One particular day we were visiting some childhood friends of his and I’ll be honest, as an introvert, small talk and interacting with people I don’t know makes me uncomfortable. This may come as a surprise to many people who know me (but don’t REALLY know me) because I can be extremely personable. I’ll engage in these moments and I do enjoy meeting new people and being kind to others, but I have limits on being in an energized environment. (You extroverts may have a hard time understanding this and my introverts are shouting, “Amen!” right about now!)
I’ve learned to accept this about myself, as well as love, and appreciate it because that’s who I am at my core. Each of us is fearfully and wonderfully made by God and He makes no mistakes. But like I said, there are going to be moments in life where I have to be in these circumstances, so I adapt when necessary.
I truly loved meeting his friends and family, but after about a good 45 minutes or so, I had reached my capacity of being “on.” I knew Q wasn’t ready to go so I suggested he stay, and I would take the car, so Jadyn and I could go do our thing. His friends were gracious enough to bring him back to our hotel. J and I left and went and did our own thing which included walking around their small yet charming downtown and sitting outside eating ice cream at the riverbank. Perfect moment for us introverts (yes, my one and only is an introvert like her momma)!
As we talked about this moment more later on, we realized this was a perfect example of my introvertness/his extrovertness. We understood it and respected it because we know that’s who we are at our core. Remember, God makes no mistakes in His creation of us.
There’s a common misconception that being extroverted means you love being around people and if you’re introverted, you don’t. In fact, us introverts often get labeled as anti-social and loners…maybe even moody on occasion. Can an introvert be anti-social or a loner? Yes. But that’s not what classifies you as an introvert. Remember, being extroverted or introverted is about energy source and how you process information.
Does that mean as an introvert I don’t like being around people? Absolutely not! I LOVE people and I love teaching (which is the ultimate environment of being “on” and around people). And does this mean that extroverts don’t ever want to be alone? Absolutely not. As people, we all need some “down” time but remember, it’s about what energizes you.
Knowing who you are in this regard is life changing. I’m not talking about whether or not you know yourself to be a mom or dad, or if you’re a nurse, teacher, or student, or if you consider yourself funny or serious, whether you’re a coffee person or tea person, a Christian or Muslim, a vegetarian or meat lover, or a dog lover or a cat lover. I’m talking about if you’re introverted or extroverted, how you process information, whether you’re analytical or a “just do it,” type of person. This is by no means an exhaustive list of personality traits, but these have to do with what type of temperament you have. Understanding this part of yourself and knowing why you are the way you are is one of the best gifts you can give to yourself. Once you figure this out about yourself, navigating life and relationships become that much easier. We all have a say in how we allow people to treat us as well as having a say in what we do or don’t do. But if we don’t know who we are at our core, how do we expect others to know who we are?
There are strengths to both being an extrovert and introvert. I’ll leave that to you to explore a bit more on your own. I encourage you to do so as this will truly open yourself up to a better understanding of yourself. There are many tools out there that will explain each of these traits in detail.
As an introvert, I know I need to recharge after being on all day (or even a half a day). Quietness is something I need after a full day of teaching. Get togethers of more than maybe five people make me feel uncomfortable so it’s important that I know how to manage my time and energy in these situations. As an introvert, I’m more of a listen and process type person than a say immediately what comes to mind type person. I don’t view any of these characteristics as negative. Knowing this about myself allows me to remain in control of certain aspects of my happiness and most importantly my peace.
God made you unique. Don’t allow how other people function dictate how you function. Being in a relationship with my extrovert is never boring but it requires compromise. It means he has to not take it personally when I need my recharge moments and it means that sometimes I have to come out of my shell and interact a bit more than I would maybe choose. I make sure to not spend the whole day recharging and he knows that my outing’s and interactions with others come with a time limit.
Being fit in your God given purpose means learning who God created you to be but like I mentioned, it also means learning about those closest to you as well. Take time to learn about your significant other, your children, and your coworkers. You’ll be amazed how much this can impact your relationships for the better.
Psalms 139:14 (NIV) “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”