People, meaning all of us, you and me, defy easy descriptions. My oldest son is one I would call an extrovert by every definition. At the age of 12, if granted any wish for his birthday, his first desire would have been a 12-year-old to live in his room with him. All the time. Yup. An extrovert.
Yet ask him, and he thinks of himself as introvert–a person who recharges his batteries in solitude. His wife and I laughed at that one, because she and I are on the shy side, and he is anything but shy, yet it got me thinking.
None of us fit into easy little Facebook icons. I spent Saturday in one of my side gigs, as a vendor and organizer of a local Expo. It was demanding. Lots of little glitches demanded patience, flexibility and ingenuity. I had to use a microphone and get looked at every so often…me, who hates cameras and mirrors. I was blessed with a steady stream of shoppers I greeted and blessed to the best of my ability. I got little to no sleep the night before and spent a long day on my feet, shedding my shoes long before the Expo ended. Yet I felt energized, not drained. So am I an extrovert?
Before you decide, know this: I fail at small talk. I treasure a few close friends. Without solitude I get cranky. I hug the walls at large gatherings. Yup, I’m a conundrum. I am an extroverted introvert. Clear as mud, right? What is important is knowing yourself. I believe every single person needs some solitude. The Psalmist said it best: Be still and know that I am God. When we live at a frenetic pace without time for reflection, we do ourselves a disservice and lose the grounding that completes us. Knowing when to be busy and when to stop is crucial for your own mental health.
In a recent discussion at church the whole tension of the Mary/Martha syndrome got a work over. I would love to be a Mary sometimes, but when the kids all walk in the door, the first question is, “What’s for dinner, Nana?” Close on its heels comes, “When are we eating, Nana?” Like all scripture stories, we are given a summary of what took place. I’m wondering how much older Martha was than Mary. If Jesus later said, “Help your sister more, kiddo.” If Martha hadn’t fixed dinner, would He have turned stones to bread? Was there a local catering firm?
Women are called to be Marthas 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Yet they need those Mary moments. If you are an introvert, you need more Mary moments, and if you are an extrovert, don’t fool yourself. You still need time for solitude and reflection lest you grow shallow and cold. The trick is to know yourself. Know your own warning signals. Pay attention, and carve Mary moments into your day when you need them. And if you are a crazy, mixed up extroverted introvert, heaven help you! You just might be a mess like me, lol.