Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Dear People

Welcome back to my final blog post in a three-part series on people and their personalities. I apologize for getting this out later than originally anticipated. I have my reasons. If you are just joining me, feel free to check out Dear Introvert, and Dear Extrovert.

People are so incredibly complicated. This really shouldn't surprise us, it wouldn't be fitting for God's highest creation made in His image to be simple. God is vastly complex; therefore, we are complex.

A human being is rather like a river. A river flows with a current, moving towards a specific destination. There are many tributaries that feed into this river, giving it unique attributes. Sometimes the river is large and roaring, sometimes it is weak and sluggish. And sometimes, the river is steady and tranquil. Some rivers are clear, others are murky and hard to define.

Rivers are always changing, occasionally the changes are so dramatic that the river entirely changes direction. You may come upon a river at one point in its journey, only to not recognize it further on down the line due to how different it appears.

People are like that too. We are unique, and there are some things about us that never change. Those solid, fundamental pieces of who we are (we are still a river). But there are many more things about us that are constantly changing.

Some of these changes are natural, such as growing, maturing, and gaining perspective. Other changes are conscious choices that we make which entirely change our direction.

Every single person you come in contact with is on a journey. Their journey is both similar to yours, and also unique to them. They have their own "tributaries" that make up who they are. They have had periods of low water, and high water. They have roared and rushed, and they have been calm and steady. They have had times when their water was barely more than a trickle and they almost dried up.

You never know what part of the river you are entering. Every experience will be a new one. Approach people as individuals. Learn to see your similarities, and learn to appreciate your differences.

Our relationships with other human beings are a reflection of God Himself; God is relational. Our unique selves are a glory to His name; God is unique and diverse. Learning to walk in freedom from unnecessary stereotypes, labels, and mindsets embraces the gift of freedom which is of the Lord; He is freedom.

Dear People, let us be people. Let us be broken, and let us be real. Let us not be too defined by flawed standards, but instead defined by our Creator.

Dear People, I can't wait to get to know you.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Dear Extrovert

Welcome back people. This is the second post in a series I am writing this week to address people and their different personalities. If you haven't read the first one, check it out - Dear Introvert.

Last post I spoke more specifically to the introverted crowd, sharing the things that I, an extrovert, have in common with many introverts. Today, I want to speak to my fellow extroverts.

We love people. We draw our energy from others being around us. This doesn't mean that you as an extroverted individual are incredibly talkative, or that you go to every social event. It just means that in order to keep your engine running, you need time with people.

Being an extrovert myself, I wanted to share with my fellow extros a few things I have learned about myself, and a few things that I desire to grow in. Introverts, some of these may apply to you as well.
  • I don't have to be the center of attention, all the time. Not all extroverts desire to be the center of attention all of the time, I certainly don't. But since we draw energy from other people, we are more likely going to the be the ones gunning for the spotlight. This is a risky ground. Your desire for the spotlight can end up causing you to act like an idiot, hurt friendships, and cause others to lose respect for you. Take it from someone who has fought for the spotlight too often. Learn when to back off and let someone else shine.
  • I can use my strength to draw others out. I have had situations where I am the strongest conversationalist in the group. That leaves me with two choices (1) dominate the conversation (2) use my strength to draw others out and give them a chance to share. This may be the case with both introverts, and quieter extroverts. Some people have things to say, they just need a little prompt from someone else in order to open up.
  • Don't be that person who steals the oxygen in the room and causes everyone else to feel shelved. You know the person I am talking about. They talk and laugh really loudly,  and they show very little regard for the personal feelings or comfort for others. It doesn't matter what or who the event is supposed to be focused on, this individual is intent upon pirating all of the attention for themselves. This may not even be who this person is all of the time, maybe these are a few isolated events, or during that awkward phase called puberty. I know I myself have been guilty of trying to steal the show when the show wasn't mean to be about me. Just be aware of your actions and how they affect other people. Take time to analyze your motives in your behavior.
  • Think, what can I give? As opposed to, what can I get? Extroverts draw energy from being with other people, so naturally, it follows that my immediate mindset upon entering a social setting will be, "What can I get from this experience?" I'm not necessarily labeling the desire to gain something positive from an experience as being a bad thing; but that desire can easily slide into a self-centered attitude. I know that from experience. Something I have found that can help me keep my focus is to zero in on what I can give to others in a group setting, as opposed to what I can get from them. This applies to being with any person at anytime, in any scenario. And honestly, the results will end up better for me when I focus on others. I have found that I actually do receive a much more positive experience when I turn my attention to others and their needs. I come away feeling more energized, more confident, and I have a better time overall.
  • We need time to ourselves as well. This may not feel as vital to us as it is to introverts, who seek time alone to re-energize themselves; but we still need time to ourselves. When I am alone, I can clear my head and think, I can breathe, I can take notice of the world around me. I am actually more aware of other people and what is happening with them when I take time for myself.
  • We need to learn how to say "no" to overextending ourselves. Just because you and I identify as "extroverts" doesn't give us unlimited energy to be the life-of-the-party. Learn to know your limits, learn how to read your symptoms when you are too tired and need a break. Learn to know when you will not be good company to someone else. Learn to say, "No, I'm sorry, I really appreciate you inviting me tonight, but I need to have a little down time." You aren't letting anyone down, you are doing yourself-and let's face it- the world, a favor.
Share your thoughts in the comments. Or check me out on Twitter and Facebook! Come back again this weekend for my final post- Dear People.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Dear Introvert

Hi Introverts, it's me, an Extrovert, coming to shake your world up a bit and make you feel uncomfortable.

I'm terribly sorry, it is not my intention to make you feel nervous. I feel terrible when other people are uncomfortable, and I try very hard to be sensitive to other people's needs.

I have had this message knocking around in my brain for some time now, and I feel the best way to present it is head on. Take comfort, dear Introvert, that you can read this post when/where/how you feel like it, and there is no pressure to respond to my comments immediately. Please just read what I have to share and then think about it for a while.

I have spent time thinking over all of the reactions and buzz on the internet caused by Meyers Briggs personality test. I have taken the test at least three different times. Strangely, I ended up with a different extrovert personality each time I took the test. Each time the result was a part of me, but it was never the entire picture. More on that later this week in my post "Dear People".

As a human being, I understand that it is really encouraging to be able to understand yourself. It is comforting to find a classification to fit into. It creates a sense of belonging, a feeling that we as human beings crave.

And for you dear Introvert, I know it must be especially comforting to finally feel recognized for who you are. Our culture holds those who appear bolder, brasher, and more socially active as being of higher value to society. Our culture is wrong, and I am so sorry, dear Introvert, that you have been made to feel obscure, stupid, and lame. 

In truth, dear Introvert, I, an Extrovert, feel that there are some ways in which I have also been misunderstood. You and I aren't as opposite and different as you may think. Neither of us are simple or tidy enough to just be put into one tidy box. We are complex, we are similar, and we are different.

Please hear these things from my heart. I share them with you out of a desire to know you for who you are, and to be known by you for who I am.

Here we go....

  • I think deeply, almost all of the time. I have gotten the impression from some of my reading, that there is a misled belief that introverts have the corner on the market when it comes to being deep thinkers. I have come across this more so from individuals, who have created a stereotype for both introverts and extroverts. It's not true. I think deeply, all the time, sometimes to the point where I can't settle down and go to sleep at night. I know other extroverts who do this as well, so know that I am not a rogue agent.
  • There are moments when I feel trapped inside my own head. This goes hand-in-hand with thinking deeply. I think so deeply sometimes, that I feel a bit smothered. Granted, the best way I find relief is in blurting my thoughts out on paper, or to another person, but they may still be jumbled and messy. 
  • I overthink....everything. I never want to get things wrong, I don't want to mess up introductions, friendships, relationships. I never want to be caught unprepared, I hate being at a loss for words. My solution? Lay awake at night, or waste time in the shower thinking up every possible scenario, and coming up with a game plan for my response. And I still fail, regularly.
  • Many times, I am at a loss for words. "Uh, how about that weather we're having?" Yeah, being classified an "extrovert" doesn't mean that you are good with all people, anywhere, anytime. Some days I feel bold, and I have an easy time drawing a person into conversation. Other days, I wish I had just stayed home and never even gotten out of bed.
  • Crowds freak me out. I do love being with people, I really do. And certain situations involving large groups of people are very intriguing and enjoyable to me. But overall, large crowds of strangers totally freak me out. I feel small, smothered, and overwhelmed by all of the sounds, the movements, and the smells of so many different people.
  • I need space. I do like to get cozy with my family and close friends. I am not afraid of touch, I love hugs, and I love the warmth of someone being near me. But, I need moments when I can have some space. I need a place that I can go where it is just me. Without that refuge, I feel like I am just wandering, a ship without a home port.
  • I need time to myself. I need time to just be quiet, to sort out my thoughts, to have less noise surrounding me. It is in this time that I recharge my batteries, clear my head, and get time to feel the world around me. I have conversation with myself, just me, myself, and I. Without this time I feel frantic, harried, and irritable. Let's just say I have a hard time being a good Christian when I haven't had any alone time.
  • I often feel insecure and stupid in social settings. It all depends upon the social setting and who I am with. This is one aspect of the Meyers Briggs test that I feel is terribly flawed. The questions about social settings are too cut and dry. When I am asked, "Do you feel comfortable in social settings?" I am uncertain how to answer. With certain groups of people, my answer would be a resounding YES. But with other groups of people? In those scenarios I am often insecure, and nervous. I have to constantly step out of my comfort zone and put myself out there.
  • I don't like unnecessary/loud/obnoxious behavior or conversation. I see loud and overly obnoxious people as very rude. They are so focused on themselves and what they want in that moment, that they fail to think about how their actions are stealing the oxygen from everyone else in the room. I have done this very thing myself before, and I am ashamed of those moments. When I am in situations where people are behaving this way, I tend to shut down, withdraw, and just coast through the rest of the evening on autopilot. There is no way I can compete with the level of energy that obnoxious person is expending, and truthfully, I don't want to.
  • In some cases, I come home from social settings utterly exhausted and spent. I don't want to talk, I don't want to engage with anyone; I just want to be left alone and go to bed, read a book, or watch a movie.
  • Most of the time, I am just acting like I feel confident. Being born an extrovert doesn't come with a genetic tendency towards confidence. That is something that we both (Extroverts/Introverts) have to grow into, nurture, and develop over time.
  • I love to create. Everyone on planet earth has the desire to create buried inside of them. It is encoded in our DNA, another secret message within our structure that points us to the fact that we are made in the image of the Ultimate Creator.
You and I are needed in this world, dear Introvert. We both have a role to play in the timeline of history being written by our mutual Creator. Understanding ourselves is important, but not at the expense of recognizing that we as human beings are too complex to be stuck with one specific labels that we feel we have to live out of all of the time. 

It is my desire to give you, dear Introvert, room to be yourself. But honestly, I don't want to be introduced to you as, "Hi there, I'm an introvert. That being said, our entire relationship will be defined out of how I feel or think I am supposed to feel." I would venture to guess that you wouldn't desire the same when it comes to meeting me. "Hi there, I'm and extrovert, so here is how this friendship thing is going to look."

No. I want to meet you like this, "Hi there, my name is So-and-So." And then I can reply, "Hi So-and-So, my name is Grace."

Let's take it from there. We'll figure each other's personalities out over time. We'll find out what makes each of us comfortable, or uncomfortable. What quirks we each have. What shared interests we both enjoy. What makes us laugh, and what makes us cry. We'll create a history of friendship together, built on the foundation of getting to know each other as people, who are more than labels or boxes.

That is the joy of getting to know people, it is the journey of discovering each other, one step at a time. Each person you meet will be different, and your journey of friendship will be taken on a new path.


Join me on Wednesday for my next post, "Dear Extrovert".

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Graduating From School

I apologize for disappearing from the blog world for a time. I didn't go AWOL, I was merely MIA.

The battle? Finish school, once and for all!

It was a rough combat zone, my final days of being a high school student. I exchanged rapid fire with a tough grammar book, and hid in the trenches to procrastinate some speech writing. When it was all over, I almost needed to be airlifted from the combat zone. It was a mess of newsworthy proportions.

Papers and books were scattered all about my bedroom. My bed was a mess. I needed a shower and it was midnight. But it didn't matter, I was done.

My opponent, known as school, had finally been defeated. Twelve and a half years of intense battles and I had finally won.


My school journey, from the first grade to the twelfth was anything but easy. I am sure many other graduated students have said the same thing, but I can't speak for their journey, I can only speak for my own.

I'm not going to drag any of you through the mud with details of every hard thing that has happened in my life. Every one of us in life has our own struggles, curve balls, and things in life that we wish we could just skip over. I can't even begin to count the number of times I wished I could just be done with something and not have to wrestle with it anymore.

But that is not how life works, and that is okay. God doesn't leave us stuck on a merry-go-round, eventually, we get to move on to the next ride-be it a slow-moving train, or a roller coaster. And in the mean time, we get the experience of whatever ride we are on. We get off a different person.

I just got off a ride that at times felt like a slow moving train, and at other times, a roller coaster.

Now I am faced with an entirely new situation....what happens now?

I don't have any college plans, nor is there a job or destination that I have awaiting me. I could write a book series about all of the ideas I have dancing around in my brain.

Right now, in this moment, I am just taking a breath and coming up to smell the roses for the first time in forever. I have had one main goal for over twelve years, and now that I have reached that goal, I get the pleasure of seeing what God has in store for me next.

I look forward to sharing my next battle/journey/ride with you, my dear readers.