You Can't Be An Introvert

Many introverts like to talk about being introverts. They talk about how people "charge up" with emotional energy, defining extro- and introversion by their emotional energy source, saying that extroverts gain energy from others and that introverts gain energy from themselves and lose their energy to people. This is why introverts can't hang out; people suck their lives away.

I have some sympathy with this way of looking at things. I've worked in service for a long time, and display a manic entertaining energy while serving/tending/pouring/whatever. Although it might seem like the behavior of an extrovert as defined above, in truth I behave that way because I need to light my soul on fire to be around people who aren't my friends. If I don't, I'll just be a silent jerk. And silent jerks don't get tips. So I have to consume myself in order to stay up. Not saying it's ideal. But that's how it is.

I don't think it's all bad, though, because being with people ought to cost emotional energy, in any social context. People do often have a need for time alone, and some need it more than others. Understood. But there are two things I'd like to say to self-identifying introverts. You are right to sense, by the way, that I'm about to attack you. But I'm not about to suggest that you not call yourself an introvert. Maybe just reevaluate what that means and what it obligates you to.

This will not make much sense to you if you're not a Christian. If you are not, then repent, and be baptized, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Anyway, onward:

First, "me time" is a lie. And the Devil is the father of lies, so... time is of the Devil. Also, Oprah is of the Devil. And tells us
Solitude is the soul's holiday, an opportunity to stop doing for others and to surprise and delight ourselves instead. When we are hungry, we get the signal right away, and we pay attention. Thirst is sneakier. By the time our bodies send us in search of water, we are already dehydrated. The same holds true in our thirst for solitude. By the time I begin to crave a vacation alone on a desert island, chances are my emotional well has already run dry. And so I've learned to create little islands of solitude in my daily life.
Ah, yes, there's that emotional well people like to talk about. I have only so much emotional energy and you people have sucked me dry, o spouses and o friends and o children. Get your leechy leeches off my breasts and give me a chance to suckle at my own teat for once! (And yes, I'm a man in this example.)

How about we speak English instead of therapese, to help us get some cleaner, truer thinking. Me time is selfish; if your emotional well has run dry, sweet baby, consider saying these words: "I am tired." Daddy needs a nap, people.

What do we seek during me time? Ourselves. What ought we to seek? God. (Be not overly righteous, Joffre.) All right, then. Let us seek joy. silence. beauty. creation. pleasant weather. a poem. a chance to bake. Some rest, people, some rest! 

I know what I need now. I need Sabbath! I need the Lord and his rest. Let that be more than enough. Take some rest and relaxation. You need to rest, what with you being a people and all. You're just tired. Looking after people, which is a thing you must do, is exhausting. Take a Sabbath. Do it this Sunday. And do it tonight as well, for good measure.

Second, you're not allowed to be an asshole. When "introverts" (yes, I busted out the quotation marks) talk about emotional energy drain, they are trying to create a narrative in which they don't have to say what was said by introverts of yore. But many introverts don't care about being nice, so they stick to tradition. What is this tradition, done of yore? It is to say "I just don't like people." 

Noble and wonderful words like "misanthrope", one of my favorite words of all time, are created. Excuses to avoid socializing are made, and we just don't like people. But Christians, I'm afraid, aren't allowed to not like people. What I actually mean by that is, Christians aren't allowed to not like People (capital letter), the idea of people as manifested to us in persons. Christians can have enemies, Christians can even hate. Christians don't have to like people who cut their heads off. But they have to like People. Because people are their brothers.

And don't even get me started on love, which I have kindly not brought up.

When those men listening to Peter were pricked to the heart, and they asked Peter et les autres, "men and brethren, what must we do?" They were told to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit who is the fully personal God of love and relationship, the breath of God who is Lord and Giver of Life. That Holy Spirit. Then the pricked men were told that this promise was for them and for their children, and for all them who are far off. Tout le monde, people. Omnes gentes. All the peoples. People.

Once that happens, the pricked men hung out with their new people. All that believed were together, and had all things in common. They broke bread from house to house. They sold their possessions and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

Then the pricked men ate their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. All the people. Tout le monde. Omnes gentes.

Gentes who knew they were Christians by their love.

By all means, my friend, rest if you must. But be not an asshole. Do not say "I just don't like people", because people aren't allowed to be that way. God wants to you to give yourself. If it makes you tired, rest, then get up and do it again until this stubborn people work you into the ground. 

If you can't bring yourself to like people, I'm not saying it's the Devil, but it's the Devil. It's on you to like them, not on them to be likeable. It's on you to give from your emotional well, not on them to fill it. And let us help you, sir. Maybe if you and I hung out we could be a tag-team of people-liking, taking on all comers in a liking free-for-all.

Let's be like the pricked men. As for the word introvert, I've changed my mind. I said I wouldn't suggest a change, but as I've written something has occurred to me. Let all Christians reject the name "introvert". Let us adopt the name of the pricked men, our inspirational brothers. Henceforward all introverts will be called "pricks", because their hearts are pricked with love for all mankind.

Finally, let us return to the water analogy. When our body looks for water, it is already dehydrated. Then the people around us want our water and our well is dry.

Do I have to spell out this whole thing? The woman at the well, the living water, life? Don't worry. You're not going to run out. Just...have a rest. Because you've been working and work is hard.


  1. I just said last week, "I think I'm becoming an introvert... and I like it." I guess you pricked me to the heart you prick.

  2. "Oprah is of the Devil" is going into my bag of favorite quotes.


Post a Comment