“I binge watched the Big Bang Theory all weekend, I’m such an introvert.”
“Everyone thinks I’m needy just because I like people #extrovertproblems”
Putting people in neat little boxes labeled introvert and extrovert annoys me to no end. Extroverts complaining about introverts and vice versa gets my blood boiling. Seeing Buzzfeed lists devoted to this subject cause me to rant to the nearest hallmate.
You know what? I’m an extrovert. I love talking to people, especially people I don’t know. I talk loud and fast. I love conversation and riding in cars with the windows down blasting rock n’ roll. Yet, this weekend, I listened to music, did crafts, and watched all eight episodes of Broadchurch with nary a break. And I enjoyed every minute of this alone time. I did occasionally have the nagging doubt. “Is this ok? Should I want to be around people right now? I’m an extrovert right?”
Let me just say it: this kind of labeling is an excuse to avoid building relationships because you are not supposedly compatible with their personality type. Now, granted, there are times when two personalities just don’t click. That’s okay, but to use the introvert/extrovert argument to prematurely dismiss a relationship is not okay.
Instead of highlighting the differences between introvert/extrovert personalities, let’s talk about how to be open-minded, regardless of whether or not you feel comfortable around certain types of people.
1. Don’t dismiss anyone.
If they talk when you are silent, don’t dismiss them. If they are silent when you talk, don’t dismiss them, saying, “I’ll never be friends with them.” This is something I’ve had to deal with during my two years at Corban. I’ve missed out on relationships simply because I thought someone was too quiet, or too loud. I let many first impressions govern what I thought of someone. This is tragic. Give everyone a second chance.
2. Listen, but also talk.
Everyone has something to say. Whether it’s about their adorable little siblings, ranting about their job, or talking about how many Dutch Bros drinks they’ve had this month, listen to them. But also let them listen to you. I, for example, take an interest in people. I receive joy from hearing people talk about themselves. Even if you would rather not, it is an act of love to give this gift to someone else. They want to hear what you have to say, so talk.
3. Accept other people’s imperfections.
Yes, that person might have just been really rude to you. But you know what? Everyone has bad days and there could be a totally valid reason. You’ve probably even had bad days yourself. Give other people permission to be imperfect and still be your friend. Besides, if you are waiting for perfection, you are going to die alone.
In this list, I’ve tried to convey some good advice without resorting to simply saying, “Jesus wants us to be nice.” However, that is the bottom line isn’t it? Within the body of Christ, let’s let our love be without borders. Let’s not let our relationships be defined by boxes and labels.
Take it from me, a recovering extrovert.