This week is what they call “GIG” week at my school. GIG stands for “Getting with God”. All of our classes are leveled back in the academic atmosphere in order to encourage discussion and activities that promote our relationship with God.
My classmates really get into it. Morning worship is calm. JAM (Jesus and Me) is very encouraging to hungry believers as we get to take time out of class just to have a moment quietly with God. As wonderful as the attitude of this week has been for me, as an Introvert, it’s very difficult for me to be in that atmosphere for five hours strait.
This week, I’ve learned that too much of a good thing, is indeed a bad thing. What I as an introvert love about school, is the structure. During GIG week, the whole school schedule is mixed up to fit in Prayer Groups, JAM, Chapel and Morning Worship. I’m surprised that this is bothering me so much because I feel that focusing on God supposed to be uplifting and encouraging! But I only have so much emotional energy to give, which is easily drained when I have to deal with change.
I understand now, that being an introvert means knowing your limits and being able to put up boundaries. I’m not having a difficult time because I’m focusing on God, instead I’m stressed out because my safe schedule has been temporarily taken away from me.
An Introvert isn’t always someone who is shy. I like to think of myself as the loudest Introvert you’ll ever meet. However, people drain me causing me to need massive amounts of alone time. As I vent to my mother about how I feel about GIG week, I think of some other introverted characters and how they deal with stress and change.
Ouran High School Host Club is a show about stress. Well, not really, but what’s fun about it is the contrast between the rich people and the poor Haruhi. Haruhi has a very strait forward no nonsense personality. Going to school and studying is her safe place. She’s not very social, but having boundaries and time limits in the form of class periods helps her to stay focused and level headed – like me! Haruhi did not expect this routine to be disrupted by something as silly as a vase. Destroying that vase was the moment her safe place was destroyed. The rest of the show follows her transition of transferring her designated safe place to the Host Club. The biggest struggle for her to allow the Host Club to become a stable part of her life was her personality and it’s hatred of change. The show is a comedy because of how difficult it is for Haruhi to engage. She’s a character foil to almost every single other character in the show. From a writer’s perspective, that’s a wonderful literary tool to get the moral across, but as a fellow Introvert, I can only imagine how weird and lonely it must be the one with such a dramatic personality.
Another Introvert I feel for is Crona. For him, if there’s something he doesn’t understand, his brain goes into overdrive and shuts down. His safe place is where ever he knows how to “deal with” life. That place is mostly by himself. Crona also has another bad element going against him. He has some major trust issues. We all can see how abused he was as a child so it’s no wonder he has so many issues. I’m surprised he doesn’t have more! Crona deals with stress in very unhealthy ways. He’s not willing to go out of his comfort zone for anything, this means, he can’t learn anything. As much as Introverts want to just stay in their own little bubble, putting yourself out there can be very productive. There’s a lot one can learn from being in an uncomfortable circumstance, like being able to understand your own needs better and learning what to expect from society’s spontaneity. If Crona hadn’t let Maca into his life, he would never have learned how beautiful friendship is. This doesn’t mean I’m asking Introverts to just throw themselves into society. Look at Crona’s story arc and how long it took him to be able to get to a place where he would risk his life for someone else. The place where we introverts build relationships is solitude as we reflect on the emotional productivity of a person’s presence when paired with our own. Allow yourself to take time (and as much solitude as you need) to find the Maca’s in your life. It’ll be worth it.
Can Introverts be leaders? I can hear them all yelling at me to answer “NO! Don’t make to do this!” One of the most Introverted anime characters is also one of the best leaders I’ve ever seen. When I tell you that it’s Shikimaru, I expect you to claim that that’s not fair since he’s a genius, and that’s why he’s such a great leader. That’s true, but just because he’s a genius, doesn’t mean other Introverts can’t come to the same conclusion as he. Shikimaru’s skills come from two areas he’s mastered. The first one is being selfless, and the second is being able to think clearly in reality. Shikimaru has the ability to suspend his fear, his anger, and pain to live in the moment and get the job done. He’s driven by his want to protect his friends. It’s a beautiful skill, but it’s especially difficult for his personality since putting oneself in such an intense state of mind is especially draining for an Introvert. Shikimaru basically goes against his own biology to finish the mission. Is this at all realistic for the rest of us? In small bursts, putting ourselves in positions of leadership during a time of panic or need can be very helpful and productive – a social learning opportunity again! There were many instances where I was forced to take up leadership for minor emergencies even thought I would much rather follow. I hate barking orders a people, but since I call myself a “loud introvert” I can make my presence know quickly. The lockdown drills we did a couple weeks ago were very painful as chairs were literally flying and tables were being knocked over to be used as barricades. People were taking advantage of the situation for fun instead of treating it with respect as a situation we really need to be alert to. The orderand-peace lover inside me jumped out and I started directing the traffic of table and chairs. Then someone yelled out to the teacher obnoxiously, “What do we do if you get shot?!”
The teacher laughed and said, “Then Teresa is in charge!” and he was serious! It was like being rewarded with more leadership for helping people be quick to barricade without killing each other in the process. I would prefer some chocolate, but I can’t be picky.
I believe that Introverts can change their comfort zone, step out of them, and be wonderful leaders. What’s greatly important is knowing your limits, and working inside them, but not being afraid to go out ever once and a while to learn something. While you recover, you can gleam on your bravery and smile.
My greatest comfort zone is God. Being in his presence rejuvenates me. But as GIG week comes to an end, I’ve learned that my Introvert-ness needs a break from being spiritual ALL the time. This isn’t a break from God, it’s a break from situations that force me to engage emotionally and spiritually in ways that I’m not really ready or to tired to do. Forcing spirituality on anyone, even someone who loves the Lord as much as I do, is anti-productive. I’m not afraid to take a step back and say, “Right now, I need to just be alone and pray. I don’t have the emotional energy to pray in a group, but when I’m ready, I’ll come back.” God understands our needs even our spiritual needs!