It was a Sunday afternoon from months past, just like the one I’m sitting in right now, and I was in a local Starbucks with my Brother and a good friend, conversating. It was after a morning of teaching Sunday School, and my shoulders had begun slumping. Sunday afternoons are relaxed enough as it is, but during this one even caffeine was having a hard time of pushing the words out from my brain.
I think I made some conversation to start with but it soon trickled out, I leaned into the booth, my head tilted down and my phone became glued to my face as I read. I basically pulled out a book and held it in front of my face. It was then I stated, “I’ve used up all my social energy right now. So, yeah.” My friend, who is another introvert, well understood. She laughed, my younger Brother gave me a mild guilt trip laced with sarcasm which I promptly ignored and they both continued to talk about how they hated the printer, named GlaDos, at work, or something like that.
Even now as I’m writing this, I’m in my basement in a recliner with a computer desk and a knitted afghan. I had started at the kitchen table, typing while my mom was puttering around, trying to chat to me at the same time but it was one of those times when I needed room to let my thoughts sigh and swirl and sort themselves out before I have to pull them out and hammer them into spoken words, much less written ones. So here we are! (P.S. – I love you Mom!).
For the record: it’s not always like this. Sometimes words fly out so fast I wonder where they came from, like birds waiting in the eaves. And others, like today, require more time to process information – especially after being given much information.
Anyhow, that Sunday was one where I ran out of social energy – so to speak – fairly quick. I used all I had that day for Sunday School, which is a job I loved and was usually energized both for and from. Often I would come out from teaching those 5 – 10 year olds with my head bobbing and heart satisfied – because that is my passion! I’ve learned that when I keep that God-given passion close to me, carry and share it, that’s when it really energizes me! That day was one where I had to work harder to muster it up, though I don’t remember why…stayed up too late the night before watching Netflix? Didn’t have enough coffee? Didn’t get my day straight with a good devotion? Who knows, but I know we all have those days.
I always remember thinking that to be a teacher, you also had to be an extrovert and it wasn’t all that long ago I realized that wasn’t true. I thought the fact that I enjoyed teaching and it didn’t suck the life from me must be some kind of freak thing. I’m an Introvert; doesn’t that mean this should always be hard for me? That I should spend my days behind a computer screen, behind a book, behind a curtain, or behind something? No. No, it doesn’t. It just means I like to recharge differently.
I’ve always classified myself as an introvert, but I keep learning more and more what it actually means and what the difference is between an extrovert. I think, at its base, the difference lies in how a person is energized: do they draw that social energy from spending time alone, or with other people? There are other differences of course and not all of which even apply to everyone, but this seems like a solid explanation. Also, one that doesn’t condemn me to staying in the basement once I finish writing this, even though I might for a while because my Xbox is down here….*ahem.* I like having fun with people too! I love playing board games and card games, and other fun things with people! Last night I got pretty competitive in Dutch Blitz…
Anywho, I sometimes refer to my teaching personality as “Superman” and my default, there’s-no-clear-role/expectations-in-this-social-situation-for-me, more reserved personality as “Clark Kent,” partly because I
like love LOVE STINKIN’ LOVE Superman and partly because the analogy is really accurate. Now, I’m not saying I have multiple personalities or something, because I don’t, but everyone chooses how much of themselves to mete out in various social situations, usually depending on how comfortable they feel. When I’m teaching, I’m releasing my passion, I’m releasing myself as the individual that God created me to be and I’m having fun with it. I’m Superman, and I feel like it! Other times, when I’m at class at university or somewhere else in a mingling situation I’m full on Clark Kent. I fumble my words (OK, I do that as Superman too), I observe a lot more and talk less, I wear glasses (when the situation requires it) and I feel less comfortable because I have to speak words I haven’t pre-thought out in a lesson plan.
But those are merging together more and more. I’m learning more and more that we are not restricted to the expectations that people have of who we are, or especially the expectations WE THINK people have of us, that haven’t even crossed their minds! I’m unchaining myself more and more to be free to be who I am. I’m doing this by learning more and more of who I am in Christ, because that’s where I find my identity and that’s who made me, ME.
I’m free to fly and teach as Superman, and after to sit in a corner and read as Clark Kent. And then blog about it. So meta.