This past weekend I attended a church workshop about being “Set Free”. The event was a transformative experience – I received insights on forgiveness and I stepped out of my comfort zone as I participated in many exercises interacting with people I did not know. It was all good … until the end.
For the closing ceremony the workshop leader, an extrovert, turned up the music and said “I want you to dance with as many people as you can!!!”
Ugghhh! I have always had this aversion to dancing. I stayed in the corner watching others dance, when suddenly a woman grabbed me and had me do a swing dance with her. Was it fun? No! I wanted to run.
After my little dance I quickly got my coat and exited. On the drive home I didn’t feel good. “I must not be free,” I thought, since I wasn’t enjoying the dancing as my other classmates appeared to.
After a day’s reflection I had a different take on what happened to me that day. I am an introvert, and I think what I was feeling at the end had more to do with my basic temperament rather than not being “free”. Here’s what I concluded:
1. Introverts draw their energy from inside. Extroverts are energized by interactions with other people. It’s not that introverts are social misfits (I love talking to people), it’s just that after a day of social interaction an introvert may need some alone time to recharge his or her batteries. On this particular day I was doing “extroverted” types of things for 8 hours. My batteries were drained. I just wasn’t up for a mass dance with strangers.
2. This is not to say introverts cannot benefit from doing extroverted activities, and vice versa. One of the best experiences I have had was participating in Toastmasters, as I wrote about in a previous blog post. Giving speeches is a very extroverted activity, and adding that skill to my repertoire was a good thing. Loosening up a bit to work on my dance moves probably would help too. But it’s not going to change my basic personality type – I’m still an introvert!
3. I say let people have the spiritual practice that feels right to them, whether it be introverted and extroverted. If people were enjoying dancing at the end of my workshop – good for them! I wish the introverts in the group would have been given the option to not participate without feeling like outcasts. We introverts need to be careful, too, in thinking our quiet, reflective style is the “right” way for everyone. Any church can benefit from a good mix of introverts and extroverts without each type imposing their style on the other.
I was telling a counselor at the church about my experience in the workshop. “Can’t quiet people be free?” I asked, relaying my discomfort with how the day ended for me. “Of course!” she said. “I never was much for the dancing at the church, either”.
For more insight on introversion check out The Power of Introverts website.