I can remember the feeling as if it happened to me yesterday. The first time I ever felt overwhelmed. I had started my first semester at college in another state. To make all of us freshmen welcome, they had different events for us to attend. Every. Single. Night. The first night, I was all in. I made friends, I played games, I ate snacks, and I had a great time. The second night I was a little tired, but I still made it out and enjoyed myself. I reconnected with the friends I had made the night before, I played some games, I ate some snacks, and I had a pretty good time.
But the third night, it was like I was a different person.
My friends ran to my room and asked me excitedly if I was going to the Freshman Palooza Big Bash Day Before Class Starts Event (or something like that). Whatever it was, the name alone exhausted me. I turned down my friend’s offer with a frustrated, fatigued, “No.”
And she never came to pick me up from my room again.
Why was it possible for my friendship to change so quickly? It was sad. Since that day nine years (?!) ago, I have grown tremendously, and I have learned a lot about myself. But where was grace for me? And what happened to make me go from energetic and social, to angry and isolated?
Lately, I’ve been feeling disconnected from other people. I live a good thirty miles from all of my friends, and even thinking about driving all the way over to their houses makes me want to crawl into bed. But there’s still a desire, and a need, to be around people.
Over the years, after taking different personality tests, praying, and interacting with smart people, I’ve discovered who I am. I am an introvert, but I am also an extrovert. There’s a special name for people like me. I’m an ambivert.
If you’ve ever taken the Myers-Briggs test, your results will be a combination of different results. You are 100% a person, but you are a certain percentage introvert and a certain percentage extrovert. When I received my results, I was almost 50-50 introvert-extrovert (54% introvert, 46% extrovert). Tests like this one, in addition to journaling and self-analysis, can help you figure out how you best need to recharge.
I’m anxious when I’m not recharged. It’s called being burnt out. I need time alone, away from the noise, away from the stress, away from people. But, as I learned this past week, I need time connected, in the midst of my friends, in the midst of the party, in the midst of people.
I’m so thankful that God knows what I need before I do. Last week, I was feeling really lonely. I was seriously angry with my connection (or lack thereof) but I knew that my feelings were not rooted in truth. I knew that I had friends and family that loved me, but may have been preoccupied. I prayed that God would help me connect with my friends again. Shortly after praying, my friend invited me over for a game night, and my other friend invited me to her house. That weekend, I also went to the pool at my apartment complex and talked to some of my neighbors. In a matter of hours, my entire outlook on life had changed!
The truth is, we are ALL ambiverts. We need both solitude and people to recharge us. God has created us for both the need to be alone and the need to connect with your community. We follow Jesus’ example of retreating often to solitary places, and we also follow Paul’s teaching on the importance of connecting with the body of Christ.
How do you need to recharge today?