I was 31 years old when I took my first Myers Briggs. I had just begun connecting with the Vineyard Church and at one of their leadership events I was handed some bootlegged copy of a MBTI. I filled out all the questions, tallied my scores and had absolutely no idea what the letters INTJ meant.
The person leading the workshop explained the difference between
Introversion and Extraversion
iNtuitive and Sensing
Thinking and Feeling, and finally
Judging and Perceiving.
But what really grabbed my attention was the explanation of introversion.
I had spent my whole life having labels like “shy,” “aloof,” “withdrawn,” and the like put on me. And now it seemed for the first time I was presented a paradigm that said, this is normal…you don’t need to try to be something else.
As I began to explore that a bit, I found it to be helpful in a lot of ways. It helped address insecurities that I’d always had. It gave me freedom to decide that I was “peopled out” and needed some time by myself. It isn’t just okay for me to protect this, but necessary.
It also helped me to begin looking at my kids differently. I’ve shared this before, but in our family, Liz is the only one who scores on the Extravert side of the scale…but usually that is just barely. She may seem extraverted, but usually that is simply in comparison to the rest of our family. With Méabh’s bubbly personality I thought perhaps we had our first extraverted kid. But a couple months ago a couple things happened.
First she told us that she was often playing by herself in school at playtime. We talked to the teacher who investigated and told us, “sometimes the kids are playing something Méabh doesn’t way to play, so she gets some toys and plays by herself.” Second, a few times there would be a bunch of stuff going on around the house and she would say, “I just want some time by myself.” One time she said that to a sister who wanted to play with her. While at first there was a feeling of rejection, in the end, also being an introvert, she was proud of Méabh.
We know that she has a lot of friends and does love to play with other kids normally. So that’s good. But at the same time we’re pretty impressed that at a young age she’s able to recognise a need (alone time) and let people know in an appropriate way that she needs it.
So why am I sharing this?
Around 2011 I heard a TED Talk by Susan Cain. She had written a book entitled, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.
The talk was amazing…(you can watch the TED Talk here), and so was the book (The book was almost as incredible as the title!). The book even has a section about being an introvert in a large evangelical church (Saddleback).
Recently Cain started a 10-part podcast talking about parenting and teaching introverted children. I haven’t listened to all of them yet, but have found what I have helpful…And I figured if a very introverted parent can learn some helpful stuff about raising introverted kids, there may be others out there who have introverted kids in their lives that you love, and perhaps you could benefit from this too.
Not the typical thing I write about here, but something I’m pretty passionate about…hope you find it helpful.
(Now that I spent the past hour working at this on the computer, I’m ready to go hang out with some people.)
Also published on Medium.