To My Extroverted Classmate
Dear Extroverted Classmate -
Last week, I sat in class with you for three days and really enjoyed getting to know you, though I fear you left without really knowing me.
On our second day of class, Professor Gerali talked about how women use seven times as many words per day as men. Afterward, you approached me and said, “That’s sure not true for you, huh?”
In that moment, I wanted to crawl under the table and hide because you suddenly made me the focus of everyone’s attention in a way that drew attention to my shyness. As an introvert, that attention is something I try desperately to avoid.
As an extrovert, I know it’s going to be hard for you to understand this, but please know that I actually like being introverted. Because I’m content as an introvert, I wish that you’d be content with that part of my personality. I wish you’d stop trying to fix me or trying to make me become more like you. Instead, I wish you’d recognize that being introverted is part of what makes me, me.
I also wish that you, my extroverted classmate, would understand that
- Even though I’m introverted, I still like people! You just tire me out and so sometimes, I need to withdraw in order to recharge.
- I’m much more comfortable being in 1:1 conversations than in a big group.
- I don’t have to be talking to feel included in a conversation. Instead, I can contentedly listen to others.
- Speaking all the time doesn’t make you better than me. Sometimes, I think you think I’m dumb because I’m not constantly talking. However, I’m a deep thinker who has creative, innovative ideas.
- Despite having creative, innovative ideas, I’m not going to fight you to talk. I’ll wait for you to take a breath & I’ll gladly jump in but if you start talking over me, I won’t stop you. I’ll just be quiet.
- I don’t need to be the center of everyone’s attention. Chances are, I’ll share what I feel I have to contribute and then I’ll ask YOU a question to engage you. Just once, I’d love it if you’d stop talking long enough to ask me a question too.
- Speaking of which, the best way to engage me in conversation is to ask me a question. Don’t comment on how little I talk. That just makes me self-conscious about being shy. Instead, ask me something. But only ask if you really want to listen to my response. If you ask me a question and then interrupt me to answer it yourself, it’ll only frustrate us both.
If you’d just remember a few of these things, my extroverted classmate, I really think we could be friends. When I look at you, I see someone who I appreciate it and value because I know that you connect with a different type of person than I do. I know that you bring something to a group of people that I don’t. I know that you’re a valuable part of the Body of Christ and that you contribute uniquely to it.
I only wish you’d learn that the same is true of me.