I'm Actually Not An Extrovert

I thought of the times that I had smiled and spoke with warmth to the person waiting for an elevator or standing in a subway. Yes, sometimes my bid for human connect was met with confusion, since it was not the social expectation, but most often there was a relieved smile, as if we had broken a trance were once again acknowledging our human bond.
— Douglas Abrams
[...] when we see one another we immediately know this is a human brother or sister. Whether you know them or not, you can smile and say hello.
— Dalai Lama

"Self-revelation is dope. Lack of mindfulness is whack."

This was my exact thought when I began reading the sixth chapter of the second section of the Book of Joy.

Whenever I meet people, typically around the third encounter, I let them in on a secret (well it's not really a secret since I tell many people this and I'm sharing it now with you): I'm actually not as extroverted as I seem. I know, you're probably like what kind of lie is this? Though I'm straight with you, I don't gather my energy from my time spent with others. In fact, it's the opposite, my energy is drained. However, if you met me in public, you wouldn't think that this statement is true. Why? On the outside, I'm anything but reserved, but that's what's on the outside.

At first, people used to think it was a show that I'd put on after I confronted them about how my energy is gathered and exerted. Though with time and age comes deeper awareness and maybe, just maybe, the Dalai Lama, Douglas Abrams, and Desmond Tutu have finally explained what I've struggled to communicate effectively with others.

If we stress secondary level of differences - my nation, my religion, my color - then we notice the differences. [...] Same with religion: Shiite and Sunni or Christian and Muslim. We are same human beings. These differences between religions are personal matters. When we relate to others from the place of compassion it goes to the first level, the human level, not the secondary level of difference. Then you can even have compassion for your enemy. So we all have the same potential for affection. And now scientists are discovering that our basic human nature is compassionate. The problem is that children go to schools where they are taught to nurture these deeper human values, so their basic human potential becomes dormant.
— Dalai Lama

See growing up, I would keep to myself. Whenever it came to sharing who I am, I would shut down. Though eventually (I believe it was from the end of high school to the beginning of my college life) it clicked: we are all children of God, and due to that fact, we are all brothers and sisters whether we recognize it or not.

I would love to keep to myself, refraining from the possibility of being rejected by another human; though what good does that do? If we only associate with those who are of like mind or reach out when it benefits us, then we are no better than those we so call look down upon for being crude. As time went on, it became evident to me that we are all connected on the deepest level of all (that we are all human beings), it made it easier for me to choose to push myself out of my comfort zone whenever I was in the presence of others.

While the world may see a person who is social and outgoing, I'm actually telling myself to stop being afraid and do the opposite of what my fear is edging me to do. When you see someone who is unreserved, you're actually seeing someone who recognizes that there is no benefit in keeping the joy that the Lord has given to themselves when it is meant to be shared with others. On the outside it may look like a young lady that is extroverted and friendly but knowing what sadness, hurt, pain, rejection, and loneliness feels like, you are actually witnessing a young lady who wants to use her energy and time to relate with others on a positive level.

Firmly, I believe that we are all going through. We all face situations that test our inner and outer strength. We all have hurt, and we all want joy and love and acceptance. If I can feel these emotions and want these desires for myself, how much more does each person, each human being, wanting, and desiring?

It's not rocket science, we are all one. The more we choose to separate ourselves from one another, the more darkness we bring. When we focus on me, myself, and I without compassion and love for each other, we lack the growth and desire our souls yearn for so deeply. Humanity grows, humanity heals, humankind evolves when we see that we are one and require a deep, relentless, resilient, unwavering connection, kindness, compassion, and love.

The Word of God says it best:

"'For just as the body is one and yet has many parts, and all the parts, though many, form [only] one body, so it is with Christ. For by one [Holy] Spirit we were all baptized into one body, [spiritually transformed—united together] whether Jews or Greeks (Gentiles), slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one [Holy] Spirit [since the same Holy Spirit fills each life]. For the [human] body does not consist of one part, but of many [limbs and organs]. If the foot says, "Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body," is it not on the contrary still a part of the body? If the ear says, "Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body," is it not on the contrary still a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole [body] were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But now [as things really are], God has placed and arranged the parts in the body, each one of them, just as He willed and saw fit [with the best balance of function]. If they all were a single organ, where would [the rest of] the body be? But now [as things really are] there are many parts [different limbs and organs], but a single body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." But quite the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are [absolutely] necessary; and as for those parts of the body which we consider less honorable, these we treat with greater honor; and our less presentable parts are treated with greater modesty, while our more presentable parts do not require it. But God has combined the [whole] body, giving greater honor to that part which lacks it, so that there would be no division or discord in the body [that is, lack of adaptation of the parts to each other], but that the parts may have the same concern for one another. And if one member suffers, all the parts share the suffering; if one member is honored, all rejoice with it. Now you [collectively] are Christ's body, and individually [you are] members of it [each with his own special purpose and function]. So God has appointed and placed in the church [for His own use]: first apostles [chosen by Christ], second prophets [those who foretell the future, those who speak a new message from God to the people], third teachers, then those who work miracles, then those with the gifts of healings, the helpers, the administrators, and speakers in various kinds of [unknown] tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire and strive for the greater gifts [if acquiring them is going to be your goal]. And yet I will show you a still more excellent way [one of the choicest graces and the highest of them all: unselfish love].'

-1 CORINTHIANS 12:12-31(AMP)

Whether you're an introvert or extrovert, hurt or healing, Christian or Buddhist, black or white, female or male, young or seasoned, we are one. Lack of self-awareness is lack of power, unity, and growth because, in your self-awareness, you will realize the truth: in order to know self, one must also know the truth that exists in the fact that we are all one, we are all human beings loved by a God who desires to bring us closer him through the relationship we have with one another. What are you using to stop you from connecting with others and embodying your basic human desire: compassion?

Perhaps our synagogues our temples, and our churches are not as welcoming as they should be. I really think that we do need for these fellowships to do a great deal more to have who are lonely come and share. Not in an aggressive way, or in order, as it were, to increase their records or their rants, but really just keenly interested in one person who comes and gets what they did not have before - warmth and fellowship. There are programs that set out to break down that loneliness.
— Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Until next time…

-🌿 Abigail

Abrams, Douglas. “Loneliness: No Need for Introduction.” The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, by Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu, CNIB, 2017, pp. 126–128.