Introversion Isn’t An Excuse




A year ago, I struggled to make eye contact with strangers. I struggled to speak to people I didn’t consider good friends. I avoided places like the dining common and our student center because it was too crowded.

Whenever my extreme shyness would get to me, I’d blame it on my introverted personality. This was a mistake, though, as it gave me an excuse to brush off some severe character defects that both held me back and hurt other people.

Don’t get me wrong, I thank God for my introverted nature. I love that I genuinely enjoy being alone and that I crave silence. I love how a good book or a deep train of thought can leave me feeling energized and ready to tackle anything. I wouldn’t change my introverted nature for anything but that doesn’t mean that only focusing on the internal world in my mind and neglecting the physical one around me is good.

Throughout my life, I have had multiple people let me know that they originally thought I was unkind or a “snob” before they got to know me. It hurt that I was giving off an impression like that, especially when my quietness stemmed out of fear rather than a sense of superiority. Shrugging back the hurt and blaming my introverted nature was easier than tackling my fear of small talk.

I missed the opportunity to be blessed by countless friendships through my quietness. And, even worse, I missed the opportunity to bless others with my friendship because of my shyness.

My shyness kept me isolated. My shyness kept me from fully fulfilling what God wanted of me. Yes, my quiet nature is from God but my fear of man was not.

My fear of man was a perversion of my personality and I kept using my introversion to excuse this.

Philippians 2:2-4  calls us to truly work in harmony with others and put their needs above our own. It calls us to be humble and to focus wholeheartedly on the interests of others. I couldn’t do this when I was too afraid to speak. I was putting my own quietness and fear above loving others.

Crippling shyness keeps us from fulfilling our full potential and loving others as Christ did. We can’t use introversion to excuse this. This doesn’t mean we have to be the life of every party, but it does mean expanding our comfort zone to talk with others.


The Silent Minority


We live in a culture that rewards us when we speak. We blast our thoughts out on Twitter, on Facebook and on Youtube. I’m even blasting my thoughts, currently. While this can be a good thing, I think our culture is becoming so obsessed with always having to be heard that we forget that sometimes silence is just as powerful.

The quote “My dear, you’ve missed so many opportunities to say nothing,” crosses my mind often.

I think that this is a rather radical way to look at life, especially considering that our culture abhors awkward silences and not throwing out the last word during a debate. I find myself mentally combing through my interactions, looking for all the times I forgot to say nothing. Trying to not miss an opportunity to stay silent challenges me. And I think it should challenge you, as well.

The next time somebody tries to bait you into a debate, capitalize upon this opportunity to stay silent and truly learn what and why they believe the opposite of what you do. To do this, you must be prepared to swallow your pride but do so while remembering that you’re learning more about why you disagree with them- not just being reaffirmed that you do.

The next time friends are discussing a subject or hobby that is unfamiliar to you, don’t try to change the subject so that you can contribute, too. Realize that this is an opportunity to stay silent and perhaps learn something new about your friends. Who knows, you might even be inspired to read up on a new subject or take up a new hobby.

Being able to stay silent throughout these examples take maturity. I know it isn’t easy to sit silently while somebody spouts off opinions that you have no tolerance for. I know it isn’t easy to be the odd man out in a conversation.

It isn’t easy because, when we are silent, we hear our own insecurities. When we quietly let others share their opinion, we worry that others will find us to be less intelligent than we are. When we stay silent amongst friends, we worry that they don’t really care for us and that they only put up with us out of pity. Or worse, we feel as if we don’t belong.

But, talking over these insecurities only masks the issue. It is like putting a band-aid over a broken bone. To truly conquer these insecurities we must remain silent and acknowledge that our self-confidence is lacking. You will quickly realize that listening to other’s opinions does not leave you less intelligent- it prepares you for the next confrontation. You will realize that your friends won’t find you odd when you drift out the conversation- they will appreciate your maturity in remaining silent instead of abruptly changing the conversation.

Proverbs 17:28 states that “Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.” Staying silent has the power to transform the opinions people have of fools. This is a Biblical testament to how powerful listening is.

So, the next time you find yourself in a conversation, I encourage you to briefly consider whether or not you’re about to waste an opportunity to say nothing.