[This is an article I submitted to Susan Cain’s “Quiet Revolution” campaign]
I grew up a shy, introverted kid. I had a handful of friends, but was generally a loner. I still remember a seemingly damning remark by my Grade 6 teacher on my report:
“Alan needs to be more outgoing.”
Oh, how I would have loved to be one of those outgoing, popular, centre-of-the-room people – they seemed to be the “winners”! I tried to be one, but failed dismally. I resigned myself to being “uncool”, to being a “nerd”. I used to say (and still do), “Whoever said your school days are the happiest days of your life must be one miserable adult!”
In my first year of university, I met a wild-haired hippy-type (needless to say, he approached and engaged with me), who excitedly told me his story of a spectacular spiritual experience at a “youth camp”. He asked me some penetrating questions about my personal faith (which was exposed as sadly lacking) which prompted me to begin my own spiritual journey. As a result, I also had a profound experience – but mine was alone in the privacy of my home!
Although lights had come on spiritually, socially, I was still pretty disconnected. (My wife and I met because we were hiding in the same corner of a hall!) But changes were afoot.
Our faith drew us into community and then into leadership. We found ourselves more and more “up front”, taking up leadership and “pastoral” roles. Now when I tell people that I’m naturally introverted (psychometric tests still confirm that), they are usually surprised.
I’ve learned that introversion does not mean that I belong in the back row or back room. I am now “at home being up front”! It does mean that I expend more energy than extroverts do when I greet, call, or visit a stranger – so I need time to “recharge” in quiet.
My “quiet revolution” has been to break free of the restricting stereotypes that society often places on introverts – to be true to who I am, yet to engage and impact society. This introvert now says to the world:
“Bring it on!”