On Introversion

If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone wrongly use or define the word introversion, I would have an unspecified, but large pile of change somewhere in my room.  Just as I am guilty of properly using obscure and big words properly but mispronouncing them, many people are guilty of pronouncing words right but using them improperly.  So in this brief (at least in comparison to my last two posts) I will attempt to explain introversion.

First, I would like to clarify, introversion does not mean antisocial or not liking to spend time with people and being extroverted does not mean being social and being a people-person.  Instead, Introversion and Extroversion refer to how we recharge our social energies.  Just as people have physical energy, which largely comes from eating and sleeping, people have several types of “psychic” (not the ESP kind, the Psychology kind) energies, such as spiritual, sexual, moral.  Social also happens to be one of them.  Introverts and Extroverts both have social energy (in fact many Introverts technically have more of it than extroverts) but they differ in how the refuel when exhausted.

Introverts refuel their social energy by being alone.  The ways they recharge vary greatly, ranging from reading to TV to being outside to playing a sport to even being online.  Many (if not most) introverts like being around people, and may even act “hyper-social” for short amounts of time.  However, after an extended amount of time around other people, they need to be alone or risk “shutting down” or in extended cases even depressed.

Extroverts, on the other hand, recharge their social energy by being around other people.  They still need some alone time once in a grand while, but they thrive being around other people.  If not around others for a long period of time, they will often find themselves tired.  It’s important to note that no person is 100% introverted or extroverted.  Everyone is a mix of the two, falling somewhere along the spectrum, usually further along one end.

So, what kind of introvert am I?  On literally every MBTI (Myer-Briggs) and Neris Type Explorer I’ve taken, I have the blessing and curse of being an INFJ (on a side note if you’re curious of what your personality type is you can find out here).  One of the rarest types in the world, the INFJ has the unique privilege of being a bundle of contradictions.  You see, among other things, INFJ’s are what is known as “emotionally extroverted”.  This means that while they are really good at reading other people’s emotions, like really good, they are often clueless of their own.  This is why they need to spend alone time so they can spend time “introspecting” and subconsciously analyzing their own feelings.  INFJ’s often seem to be extroverts until they “shut-down”.  They are arguably one of the most introverted types out there, despite how much of people persons they are.  So why go into this detail about myself, in spite of the fact I dislike talking about myself?  To prove a point.  There are different types of introverts, and we become emotionally drained for different reasons.  Introversion isn’t just about emotions though.

Because of the “common-knowledge” belief that introverts are anti-social, there hasn’t been as much research into them as extroverts. However, in recent years it’s become apparent that there’s a disparity between how Psychologists and some introverts describe introversion.  Not all introverts are emotionally introverted.  Jonathan Cheek, a researcher at Wellesley College has in fact observed 4 types of introverts: Social, Thinking, Anxious, and Reserved.  As we learn more and more about introverts, it becomes more and more clear we only understand the tip of the iceberg.

So what’s the takeaway from this?  What introversion actually means.  Yes, introverts need more alone time than extroverts, and yes, some are anti-social (just as some extroverts are anti-social) but that doesn’t mean that introversion and being anti-social are mutually exclusive.  That’s it for now, enjoy the rest of your day.  Or don’t.  Your choice.


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Who Is My Neighbor?: Reflections on The Good Samaritan

Some of you may be wondering what the story of the Good Samaritan and Black Panther have to do with each other.  Others may be wondering, “Wasn’t this supposed to be a weekly blog?  Why then has it been two weeks since your last post?”.  These are both good questions.  And I hope to answer them by the end of this post.

I recently, like most indoctrinated into the cult of capitalism and pop culture, watched Marvel’s latest movie Black Panther.  In fact I watched it twice, one of those times being unintentional.  How watching a movie can be unintentional is a tale for another time.  Anyways, it was pretty good.  Pretty good indeed.  And it raised some pretty important questions, much more than the typical super hero flick.  Chiefly, it asked a question that seemed pretty familiar to me: Who is my neighbor?  (Yes, I am aware I used ‘pretty’ way too many times in that last paragraph.  My inner English student hates it.  My pragmatic self doesn’t care much.)

Now, as the title of my blog post suggests, some of the themes addressed in Black Panther reminded me of the New Testament Bible story, or rather parable, of the Good Samaritan. In the story of the Good Samaritan, a student of Jewish law questions Jesus, ‘Who is my neighbor’, in response to hearing the Great Commandment, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and Love your neighbor as yourself.  Now, in typical Jesus fashion, he didn’t answer the question directly.  Instead he did it via a parable, a simple allegorical story with a simple truth.  In it, a man is beaten, robbed, and left for dead on the side of a road.  Several people pass him, people you would expect to help him, and it is not until a Samaritan, the last person you’d expect to help a Jew in those times, passes by that he is helped.  Whew, that was a lot of run-on sentences.    I’m gonna’ take a breather for a sec.  Don’t mind me.  Go get a snack or check your email.

I’m back.  I’m sorry to have left you in such a long and arduous state of suspense.  So back to the parable.  The Samaritan proceeds to administer first-aid to the Jew, and brings him to the nearest hotel.   He pays the innkeeper to care for the man, and promises more money a few days ahead.  All without any expectation of getting paid in return.  The parable ends.  Jesus asks, ‘Who was the Jew’s neighbor?’  The student of the Law answer, ‘The one who showed him mercy’.

Nowadays, this story kinda’  seems like common sense.  But back in Jesus’s day this was a big deal.  Due to a long and complicated history, the Jew’s and Samaritans hated each other (even though they were basically the same people who lived exactly the same life-style).  So as I mentioned before, a Samaritan was the last person you’d expect to help a Jew.  But he did it anyways.  As Christians, and just as decent people in general, we are called to provide aid for any in need, not just the people we like, or those who are similar to us.  Now, on to the Black Panther connection.

I will try to avoid any overt spoilers of Black Panther, but I will touch upon some of the basic themes.  So if you would not like to see these, scroll ahead until the next bolded sentence.  But you’ll kinda’ be missing out.

In Black Panther, the fictitious country of Wakanda is one of the wealthiest and most technologically advanced countries in the world.  And nobody else knows about it.  Wakanda has hid from the world and remained out of any conflicts as a policy, which is probably the reason they ended up as they did.  So while they might not have to deal with issues such as poverty or racism, the rest of the world does.

This fuels the motivations of the movie’s villain.  He’s grown up in the outside world, so he know’s what it’s like.  He also knows Wakanda has the resources to help with this.  However, he takes this to extreme levels.  So while his heart was in the right place, his actions certainly were not.  But by the end of the movie, Black Panther, a.k.a. T’Challa, realizes there’s some truth to this.  So he ends Wakanda’s  isolationist practices and instead begins to offer aid to the outside world.

So, who was Wakanda’s (and our) neighbor?  The short answer is, anyone and everyone in need.  We’re all human beings, so if possible, we should help each-other out.  That includes those who are different from us.

An increasing trend in America, and some other parts of the world is to keep aid internalized and not help those outside of their own borders.  And what disturbs me even more is that this trend is especially prevalent inside of some Christian groups.  How could you claim to follow Christ’s teachings and not help the poor?  Or shelter the refuge?  Or tear apart the immigrant family who’s barely making ends meet?  For those of you who already “Love your neighbor” I don’t mean this as a criticism.  And for those who may not I don’t mean to criticize you.  Instead I mean this post as a wake-up call, a rally to serve those in need, in whatever way you are able to.  Also, you should go see Black Panther.  It was a pretty great movie.

So remember how I said I would tell you why I missed a week (or two) back at the beginning?  Turns out I was busy.  A lame excuse, but a real one.  So tune in next week for a new post….hopefully.  Probably.  Yes, probably.  And I’ll try to make it a little less serious than this one.


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