Monday, November 22, 2010

The Most Extroverted Time of Year

Do you hear what I hear?  It's the holiday season, calling for all your energy and free time.  It's your relatives, whom you love, asking for your attention. It's your friends and co-workers, inviting you to myriads of parties and get-togethers. To borrow a line from Sophia Dembling, it's the most extroverted time of the year.

This post is an Introverted Church tradition, four year running.  There is much I love about the holiday season - the chill in the air, the music, the lights, the food, the people - but it's exhausting for me and sometimes difficult for my spiritual life.  

First, to remind you that there will be rest in your future, January 2nd is Happy Introverts Day.

Second, the Introverts Corner has a new post with some survival strategies: The Most Extroverted Time of the Year - Psychology Today

Third, some of my suggestions for navigating the season:

1. Take time for your inner life.  The holiday season in the US is notoriously outward focused, which may be one of the reasons a lot of people lament the loss of meaning.  I find Advent liturgies, candles, and the prophecies foretelling the advent of the Messiah, and the birth narratives of Jesus, to be particularly poignant.  Take time to read, pray, and reflect.

2. Learn how to say "no."  Some of us are naturally "yes" people - our default response when given an invitation - but that can be particularly damaging to us when the invitations are furious and constant.  When we learn how to say no we say yes to God who created us as introverts and to our true selves.  I usually say "no" to parties that are loaded with strangers, unless I have a real purpose for being there. When my closest friends call, though, I'm there. 

3. When you attend a party, find one or two people that you know or want to know, and see if you can engage them in conversation.  Listen.  Ask questions.  Try to concentrate your energies there instead of being distracted by all the other action in the room (I read recently that introverts actually take in too much of their environment, whereas extroverts let most of it wash over them). 

4. When you need a break, try one or more of these ideas: Peruse a person's bookshelf. Take a walk outside. Wander the house like you're just taking a tour. Hang out in the bathroom for a while.  Sit on the side and watch.

Next week I will post an article I've written on Advent for introverts.  Until then, Happy Thanksgiving everyone!