Up until just a few years ago, if you had asked, I would have easily answered that I was an extrovert - I love people, I have always felt called to ministries that involve both teaching and direct interaction with people, I like to talk. But as I have gotten older, and my stores of what previously seemed an endless amount of energy have depleted, I have started to realize that it is becoming more and more difficult for me to reach out. When I started looking at the concept of introversion, something "clicked" in my understanding of myself.
In current literature on the topic, introversion and extroversion are seen somewhat differently than traditional ways of identifying personality types. They have more to do with the flow of energy. Extroverts re-charge and gain energy by interacting with others; introverts draw energy by being alone. And of course, the reverse is also true - extroverts run out of steam if they don't have people around, and introverts become depleted if they are always surrounded by others.
Aha! Years of needing a nap on Sunday afternoons makes more sense now. Being surrounded by people and expected to reach out and be sociable in less structured settings is draining to me - both emotionally and physically. I never made the connect because I was also a school teacher, and my school days did not have the same effect. But in my classroom, there was structure and all activities were goal-directed. That does not cause the same drain. Neither does visiting with close friends. It's the large group social thing that does it. As I have read McHugh's book, I have felt comforted that I am not the only one whose least favorite part of Sunday morning worship service is the meet and greet time.
But most of what I have felt is relief - relief from feeling guilty because I need time away from people, relief that there are truer ways for me to share my faith than introducing myself to strangers on airplanes (shudder), relief that it is right and good to be the person God created me to be, and that I am honoring Him in doing so.