Introversion and Community

Recently, my husband and I moved to a rural area where we know very few people, and despite the friendliness of the locals, it is invasively isolating to be somewhere without close friends and family. As an introvert, I welcome the quietness of the town and the not being obliged to over-commit to spending time with others is as refreshing as I’d anticipated. I felt the same way when in rural Africa; my inner-world and reflective capacity soared, and thus so too did my self-confidence. What I don’t realise however, is that when I am dancing for so long in my inner-world, I actually get worn out from not being with and participating in the life of others. So worn out in fact, that I stumble when I re-enter highly social environments – what do I say? would others be interested in what I have to say, or are they just asking obligingly? After a few hours, and the magical mystery of going out for a cup of coffee with someone,  I remember that who I am is not inhibited or hindered by spending time with others, but it is actualized through spending time with them. When I am around others in a way that my inner-world is enriched and encouraged to outwardly express itself with another, my whole person flourishes. The inner-world that I have is because of the community around me, and when it does not interact with my community of friends on a frequent basis, it is far too be distracted by things of lesser importance; the more one retreats into themselves without input from others, the easier it is to have wayward ideas. We need community because our experiences and thoughts are but a wave in the ocean; we can only know partial answers about God and the world. We must glide and roar with other waves to know God and the world more fully. From being with others, our inner-world is enriched. I believe that for everyone, particularly highly sensitive people (see here for more information on the highly sensitive trait), organising one’s time in way  that time spent with other people and time spent by one’s self, benefits and does not hinder the spiritual growth of one’s self and the world. For me, the aim of life is to bring truth, love, and justice to the world; and I realise now that being with others, vulnerable as it is, is the forerunner of achieving this.

 

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