I am a self-proclaimed introvert.
I am often not perceived that way because I also proclaim myself as an “open book” but I am terminally reclusive. I would rather spend my time with one or two people, sometimes even myself, and do little things such as writing, watching television, listening to Sade while reading Toni Morrison, both whom embody Black reclusiveness, or dare I say, be silent and contemplate about life. I used to think, and still continue to think, I am the only introvert in my family because I seem like the only person who actually likes to be alone, who actually likes to think more and say less, and who actually likes to be reclusive.
Being an introvert in a world that celebrates extroverts can often be a challenge. Those who are introverts know my struggle. But, being a Black introvert is a whole different struggle. From going to church to being around family, it becomes necessary and sometimes misunderstood to want to have time for one ’s self.
Most, if not all, of the Black community attend a Baptist church. A Black Baptist church is full of excitement and emotion. From “Let the Church Say Amen” to “Praise the Lord!,” everyone has their own pace when it comes to worship, but the more recognizable image consists of clapping hands, stomping feet, and shouting to the sky. Growing up, I often felt like I didn’t fit in because I never exhibited the aforementioned qualities. I still don’t. During praise and worship, I do one of two things; sit and listen or stand and listen.
I even sometimes play “hooky” and take a break from church and just be with myself on a Sunday morning. It’s not that I don’t enjoy church but sometimes I need to be alone. Let me be the first to say that God knows my heart and made me the Black introvert I am today. Still, there is a little tinge of guilt at the hands of the Black community, a largely social group of people, when I’m not at church every Sunday.
Family comes with a whole different set of challenges. Holidays from Thanksgiving to Christmas are usually spent with both sides of my extended family. Since most of my family is dispersed, we don’t always see other on a regular basis. But when we do, the natural thing would be to catch up on all that’s been going on in our lives.
To an extent, while I do initially intend to share all that goes on in my life of a 22-year-old book nerd and social media junkie, I ultimately just give a summary of the main events and then close up shop after that. My family has to sometimes fish and do a little scavenger hunt to get the full story. It’s not that I’m secretive, nor is it that I am aloof; I just have a lot of thoughts but can say it in very little words. In a Black family that’s social, it can be hard to understand.
To my Black community, family, and church; please understand my being an introvert is how I contribute to the world. I love my family and I love my church and it is actually when I am alone that allows me to process those interactions and recharge for more. I, and many Black introverts like me, may be self-proclaimed “open books” but sometimes the book needs to be closed and left alone on the table.