Eight months ago, I learnt I was an introvert. The discovery blew my mind, because all my life, I had lived like an extrovert.
Outgoing, bubbly and a performer by nature- large crowds don’t scare me and I’m perfectly comfortable being the centre of attention.
I love being with people! How could I possibly be an introvert then?
Succinctly, Jess Connolly smashed that notion with her definition of the defining difference between the two:
Extroverts get energy and are filled up by being with people. It’s how they recharge.
Whereas, introverts find people and crowds draining. Some may very well love being with people, but they ultimately need solitude, rest and quiet to refuel- and to process.
BINGO! That was me…
And yet, all these years (29 to be exact) I had been living, working and loving from the well-source of an extrovert.
You see, every three months (and increasingly sooner in difficult seasons of life) I found myself depleted, drained and exhausted. I wanted to quit life and run away… every three months!!! I battled depression because no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t fill back up.
I was empty ALL. THE. TIME.
I battled the shame of being weak and lazy and not good enough – of letting the people I love most down.
I realized in that moment- in discovering I was an introvert -something needed to change.
If I was to find my joy again and the energy I needed to love and serve my people well, I needed to start honouring my body, mind and soul’s need for solitude, rest and quiet.
God had already started teaching me about peace in solitude, so I was excited to take this next steps.
Slowly and surely, I implemented the following:
- Creating space in my days, as well as my weeks, for rest, reflection and alone time
- Prioritizing things that fill me up, like reading, writing, getting outside and doing yoga
- Working from a place of rest, rather than resting from work (as my husband put it, “Make rest your priority Kailey, not work.”)
- Concentrating on one project or work focus at a time, giving it all my energies before moving on to the next
- Creating an evening routine of solitude and rest, so I woke feeling full, rejuvenated and inspired
- Pouring into a few people I’m called to, rather than many and everyone
- Being honest with myself and others about my limitations (saying no to even good things, when I didn’t have the energy or knew I needed to fill up)
- Leaving blank days on the calendar with nothing scheduled, so I could take them at my leisure
I could write about these in elaborate detail, because quite honestly, it took time and intentionality to figure out how to do this!
It was trial and error in discovering the practice steps and ways of living and loving like an introvert.
Needless to say, I started to breath again. I felt peace return and I could hear my heart sing. It was working!
Shortly thereafter, I stumbled upon the Enneagram, during one of Christa Black Giffords Webinars. Why did I need to take another personality test? I balked. But with her endorsement, I checked it out.
Thirty minutes into taking the Enneagram test, I was in tears- like someone had opened my heart’s journal and read every entry.
Staring back at me were my longings, felt needs and idiosyncrasies; my fears and insecurity. Like they were normal and very much ok. I was seen and accepted by this infamous number 4 that so accurately embodied my deeply emotional soul.
All my life I’ve felt different, (in both a good and bad way) battling the notion that I am wrong or bad- shame my biggest enemy. And here I was, learning that this was normal for a 4 and that in fact, it was not only my greatest weakness, but also my greatest strength, if I harnessed it.
For weeks, I listened to The Road Back to You, a podcast devoted to looking at life through the eyes of the Enneagram from a Christian perspective. Never had I laughed and cried so hard in forty minutes.
In the same way I felt after discovering I was an introvert, I felt seen, heard, validated, and understood in shared experiences with other 4’s!
Don’t you know these are the basic needs of a four and how they feel most loved?!?!
And my wrestle with shame? The infamous demon in the closet for 4’s!
My goodness…. revelation after revelation.
I’ll admit, I am very much still learning and discovering the Enneagram. I am far and wide a newbie at it, but what I love most, is the intricacy and depth of it’s reach.
Not only does it outline my basic nature, but also character development at different levels of maturity and how I function under stress or shame or exhaustion- what the Enneagram calls, your shadow side.
It’s informative, challenging and encouraging. Honouring the person God created me to be, while simultaneously calling me UP, rather than OUT.
With the help of The Enneagram, I’m coming to a deeper understanding of my God given strengths and weakness; honouring them, rather than fighting them. I’m learning to acknowledge the shame that so easily ensnares me, rather than will it away. And I’m discovering how a lifestyle of rest and mothering myself, will help me flourish and come alive in ways I’ve only yet tasted.
My capacity for life these days is SO MUCH SMALLER than I ever dared imagine! But if I want to live in health and joy and rest, it’s necessary and good.
And when I love from that place- from the place of my truest self- I discover the connection, belonging and meaning I aspire to leave as my legacy!
The Enneagram and living like an introvert: my road back to health; to the wholeness and freedom that’s mine in becoming my truest self- the person God created me to be.
Get started on your journey:
Discover the peace and pleasure in solitude and rest- mothering yourself to wholeness of health and mind and joy.
- Introverts in Ministry Webinar (highly recommend for anyone in leadership of any capacity; not necessarily ministry)
- Mothering Yourself & Self Care Webinar
- Simplicity Parenting Book and Resources
Learn your Enneagram Number and start discovering the way you’re wired. Find freedom in who God created you to be in your truest self.