Finding Community for the Introvert
- Peyton Garland iBelieve Contributing Writer
- 2021 13 Oct
When you struggle with Obsessive-compulsive Order (OCD) like I do, getting out of the house is like draping a “Welcome All Triggers and Anxiety Meltdowns” banner across my front door. With Contamination OCD amidst Covid’s constant, looming threats, getting near people is its own feat, so while pre-2020 Peyton loved visiting coffee shops with friends, meandering through bookstores, and finding an excuse to peruse historic downtowns, 2021 Peyton has morphed into quite the introvert.
Nonetheless, introverts, whether by nature or a means of pandemic-induced catastrophes, need community. We continue to need support, encouragement, accountability, and the reminder that someone else thinks we’re cool enough to be their friend. So how do we tap into those resources without completely draining ourselves?
Check out these three ways to find community—even if being around lots of people isn’t your idea of fun:
1. Create your bubble of people.
You don’t have to have a ton of people. The good news is that you aren’t Jesus. You’re not in charge of feeding 5,000 people or saving the world. However, there’s a reason Jesus picked 12 men to follow Him throughout His ministry. He Himself showcased just how much we need others.
I encourage you to be open, to think through, and count out those core people who are always in your corner. Now, I’m not talking about the people who always agree with everything you say, or the people who don’t hold you accountable out of fear. I’m talking about the people who love you enough to make sure you’re walking in truth, that you’re not settling, that you’re taking care of yourself. Those are your people.
A few years ago, I made a list of my people. I had to fold the paper in half because I like to keep my circle tight. I kept that list close by, folded up near my Bible, so I could remind myself that there are special people in our lives worth showing up for.
Now, years later, that list means even more to me. I live 1,400 miles from home, and while that’s an easy excuse to bow out of making new friends, I’m reminded that there are others out there like my core list of friends. There are people who want to offer love, support, and faith for me on hard days, and glitter, confetti, and shrills of excitement on good days.
Create your bubble of people. Keep them close. Show up for them (even when you don’t want to leave the house). But never be afraid to have more than one bubble.
2. Let your bubble push you.
Now, you have a bubble of like-minded friends you trust. Cool. But community can’t stop with a checklist. True community requires you to grow, to engage, to be part of something bigger than the four walls of your living room.
Allow the friends you trust to push you outside your comfort zone. Let the adventurous one drag you to a new town, let the super smart one take you up and down the aisles of her favorite Barnes & Noble. Let the foodie friend talk you into pizza hopping all over the city.
If these people have made it on your list, if these are the people you bank on when things get hard, when things matter more than life itself, then trust them to force you to expand your horizons. That’s not to say your community should coerce you into sinful, stupid stuff, but your community should want to see you grow and reach your full potential.
The first “event” I took part in after the pandemic hit was visiting a local coffee shop with a friend from work. She knows I struggle with Contamination OCD, so she was prepared to not only let me stretch myself, but she was there to make sure I didn’t push myself too hard.
She double-checked that our seats weren’t too close to anyone else. She handled credit cards and the cashier, grabbing all the drinks so I didn’t have to touch anything. She guarded the pieces of me that needed to breathe, but she also allowed me to push myself, to fight my OCD in one of the healthiest ways imaginable.
3. Step into someone else’s bubble.
Tough love for my introverts (more like tough love for myself), but you have to recognize that though you like to keep your circle small, others need who you are. Other people need your wisdom, your selflessness, your love, your laughs, your support, your faith—who you are.
And you can’t be there for someone else if you aren’t actually there. If you don’t leave the house, if you don’t push your comfort zone, if you don’t lend yourself to stepping into someone else’s space, you close yourself off to loving others. Hard but true: you shut down community.
Being there for others doesn’t require you to be the life of the party. No one is going to stalk you with a microphone and spotlight. They’re just going to hope you’ll stand in the gap for them on days when they need to be reminded of who they are.
Some days, they’ll need their introverted best friend to show up with a movie and ice cream. A friend who’ll sit with them in the quiet for hours on end while they cry and work their way through the tough stuff that’s happening. They’ll need you.
Being an introvert doesn’t mean you avoid community. Rather, you embrace it to maximize what you can bring to the table, and what they can offer you in return.
Relationships are delicate, intimidating, and sometimes difficult, but they are what not only grounds us, but grows us. They don’t force us to become someone we’re not, but they shift us and change us for the better, teaching us to have more faith in God and more faith in one another.
Photo Credit: © Unsplash/Daiga Ellaby
Peyton Garland is an author and coffee shop hopper who loves connecting people to a grace much bigger than expected. Her debut book, Not So by Myself, was promoted by Former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino and Endorsed by TED Talk speaker and creator of the More Love Letters Movement, Hannah Brencher. She lives in Colorado Springs with her husband, Josh, and their two gremlin dogs, Alfie and Daisy.
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