This is still the case, but to a lesser degree. Through a combination of "the college experience" and simply growing up, I have begun to realize that one can - and must - learn to be shy without being rude. I mentioned in my last post that ours is a very rude generation; I can't tell you the times I've tried to strike up a conversation with a fellow classmate, only to have them give a monosyllabic answer before returning to the oh-so-fascinating world of the iPhone screen. Of course, those of us who are less tech-savvy can scoff at these people and pretend that because we are engaged in reading an educational book rather than scrolling through Facebook, we're not being rude - we're just introverted.
but we should never let a label become our excuse.
The naked fact of the matter is that, whether we classify ourselves as an extrovert or an introvert, we must make room for the human interaction required by our daily lives. Maybe this isn't on a university campus: maybe it's at Wal-mart, or church, or at the fast-food drive-through. Sure, you can go through life in your own impenetrable bubble, never acknowledging unless obliged, never learning to make small talk ("bit the bowl off the spoon!"); but on a wholly pragmatic level, people do not like the self-absorbed. Even if they're self-absorbed themselves and totally unaware of it, they will still observe it in others - and let me tell you, it's very off-putting.
In addition to the pragmatic winning-friends-and-influencing-people argument, however, it seems to me that our profession of faith demands that we look outside of ourselves to consider the good of others. Now, I'm not talking about handing out tracts and evangelizing people: I'm just talking about how our attitude toward life and toward those we meet reflects on our Christianity. Of all people in the world, we should be the most joyful, the most enthusiastic, the most willing to uplift others simply by acknowledging them as human beings like ourselves. "Someone will say, 'You have faith, I have deeds. Show me your faith without your deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.'"
Far too often we are a whiny, negative people, filling up our social media with complaints about being sick (bet someone else is, too) or having a headache (maybe we shouldn't be on the computer...?) or not wanting to take this exam (does anyone?). And then we do the same in real life. (Because when someone asks how you are that day, chances are they are not requesting the low-down on your entire week.) But in reality this doesn't make us feel better and certainly doesn't uplift anyone around us: it just creates an impression of us as an Eeyore, and no one really wants to be chummy with an Eeyore.
rather, let our speech always be with grace, seasoned as it were with salt, that we may know how we ought to answer each one.
This morning Rachel Heffington posted a link to an article on how to make small talk with strangers, and I thought it spot-on in that, while it does not claim that by chatting it up with random folk you will win ultimate happiness, it does point out that you feel better if you engage with the world around you. So let us lay aside this label of "introvert" that so frequently besets us, and learn to be a light in a gloomy world.
Dress with respect for yourself and others.
Look for things to comment on positively.
Be enthusiastic if at all possible.
Appreciate the efforts of others.
Put away your books and your "cellular devices" when with others.
Smile (even if you don't feel you have a very nice one).
So let us lay aside this label of "introvert" that so frequently besets us, and learn to be a light in a gloomy world.