Why Introverts Need Community
Are you energized by time alone or by time well spent with one or two close friends? Do you love alone time and space to tend to your inner world - your own thoughts, ideas, and reflections? If you're an introvert like me, this appeals to you, but we need community, too.
For as long as I can remember, I've been called "shy" or "reserved." I recall a long car ride to northern Minnesota during my college years with a close friend and her mom, who I was just getting to know. Sometime along the way, she remarked, "well, you're shy!"
That was the worst thing you could say to an introvert. I withdrew further into my safe place - my own internal world.
Introversion isn't about being shy. It isn't about disliking people or about avoiding all social situations. It's about the need to have time alone to refill our energy tanks so that we're ready to give our best to our work, our friends, and our community.
Introverts need community, too.
I didn't realize how much until I didn't have it.
For over a decade it's been a missing part of my life. I've had it sporadically but not for any extended period of time. A few months here or a year there. It was just enough to keep my head above water, though honestly, there were many times I sunk to the depths, too.
The Gallup Organization identifies five essential elements of wellbeing:
- Career Wellbeing: liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals
- Social Wellbeing: having supportive relationships and love in your life
- Financial Wellbeing: managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security
- Physical Wellbeing: having good health and enough energy to get things done daily
- Community Wellbeing: liking where you live, feeling safe and having pride in your community
Community wellbeing ranks lowest for me. I score in the "struggling" category, one notch above the "suffering" category. But interestingly, my social wellbeing score puts me in the "thriving" category.
How is this possible?
Because I'm a Relator. It's my top CliftonStrength.
It fits nicely, and not coincidentally, with my introversion preference. I don't need a lot of friends or a big community. While I clearly need to feel more invested in my local community, my best relationships are those with a few close friends and family.
I've gotten pretty good at "muscling through" life sometimes. But I've learned the hard way that I can only do that for so long before I crash. Without a community of others to depend on, whether big or small, I suffer.
I need good partnerships.
Over the past year I've intentionally invited others into my world. I made dozens of connections on LinkedIn and had personal conversations with many. I broadened my circle and ventured outside of my comfort zone at times.
One of the greatest gifts was the emergence of two new partnerships - new community for me. One new and one old.
- The Side by Side Podcast wasbirthed in about 3 months from one of those networking conversations I had early last year. Annie Perdue-Olson and I were instantly in sync and aligned in our desire to equip female leaders in ministry, so we launched our podcast in September with the release of episode one! We're now in season 2 and our newest episode dives deeper into why community is so important for female leaders to work collectively instead of competitively.
- Habits of the Soul has been nearly 50 years in the making! Alongside my friend Kristi Erickson, we launched a soul care community this month, bringing together our shared passion to help others see, embrace, and develop their inner life - their soul. This partnership will bring one-on-one and small group coaching to help you build soul habits in everyday life for a deeper connection to God, yourself, and others.
This is the power of community.
Two partnerships that complement and support one another's strengths, passions, and gifts so that we can do the good work God called us to do.
I couldn't do this on my own. I tried.
And it doesn't work.
Whether you're an introvert or extravert, you need other people to make you better, stronger, and more resilient. You need thriving wellbeing.
If you're an introvert, seek it out. See what God can do when you open yourself up to community.
You won't be disappointed.