Notes from a Centering Introvert

In a time of verbose authenticity and vehement accessibility, we're in an ironic era. Introverts are taking to the internet via memes, gifs, and any other overly colloquial medium to express why they are in fact introverted. But isn't the introvert supposed to be all about isolation, not socializing? Or aren't they supposed to be petrified of others? Like hermits or agoraphobics? Maybe. Maybe not. I'm an introvert... aaaaaaand researching those questions just seems like a lot of work.

Here's the deal, I was working on the portrait attached here, when I started thinking: Is being introverted/extroverted a thing? I didn't even miss a beat in my charcoaling, when I immediately thought "Well, sure." But then the next question came to mind: Should it to be a defining characteristic? I have a hard time saying yes to this. Why? Because the self is more complex than simply being defined by what it's not. What I mean by this is that it seems to be an injustice to the grandeur of the soul to simply define ourselves through phrases like "I can't be myself until I have 'x'." Especially when "x" is not God. Anything else... to give a Sunday School answer... becomes an idol. And isn't idolatry the engrafting of untruths into reality?

So, what is it? In an overly crude and simplified definition, introverts recharge through being by themselves, and extroverts recharge by being around others.

Whether in finding that perfect 5 minutes of silent alone time, or hanging out at the ideal party with friends or family, these mediums are a "sacred space" to their participants. They're instances that allow the individual a brief moment to refocus in their disposition by offering an atmosphere conducive to his or her thriving.

So do the introverts or extroverts need these "sacred spaces"? Ideally, yes. Is this an ideal world? No. So then, what is necessary?

Consider our world, and all of the contexts around us. Ours is a sea of conflicting waves and momentum. To plan on the best party or an uninterrupted time of silence seems to pretty improbable. So how does the introvert (or extrovert) thrive in a time like this?

Ultimately, I would say it's in recentering. The uncentered soul is unsettled, exemplifying angst and disenchantment. So how does a soul find centering? And before that, how in the world would someone dare claim an answer when each disposition and personality is so different?! I'd say there is a common denominator of an experience that needs to be remembered:

  • Augustine wrote that "Only the beautiful is loved..."
  • Adding to that, John Navone claimed that "Beauty is at the heart of all motivation."
  • And, "Experiencing God as our supreme Good (read: beautiful) is a source for joy." ...and again... "The supreme goodness of God is the ultimate possibility of joy available to the human heart."

So, if you didn't pick up on it, I'm saying that a recognition of the Beautiful is dire for recalibrating the soul during a "bad day". We long for it. We crave it. It's like water for the soul... it realigns and recenters us. Beauty is what motivates and spurs the heart, and inspirers us to who we want to be. Some find it in paintings, while others find it in math. There is an openness here--hence the vast differences among each personality or disposition--so dictating how God shows up to the soul would be problematic (assuming it doesn't contradict scripture).

All of that being said, so what do you do if you are an introvert like me, and need that precious alone time, but can't find it? The answer is in the aim, which is to find beauty in both times of silence and crowdedness. It's not the detachment from others that is fueling, nor the attachment toward others--those are just contexts that allow your soul to see a bit more clearly. But God's brightness can shine through anything. We need only recognize that our centering doesn't come from contexts, but from God's Beauty.