So, you are probably looking that the title of my post and are wondering “introverts...quiet...right.” I actually think about that too, especially when I meet other introverts. Other introverts? REALLY?! Yes, I myself identify as an introvert. Let me break down that down a little bit. From the time I was born to today, I have always been an introvert. However, as I got older, I have become more outgoing and more talkative. That “more talkative” part is mostly nervous chatter because I still sometimes have no idea what to say in a conversation so I just get nervous and ramble a little bit. Most people think I am probably awkward because of that. They are not wrong actually. So if I could give myself a label, it would be something like this: a slightly but not really extroverted socially awkward introvert. The grammar snob in me totally hates using run on sentences like that but I had so much caffeine as I was writing this post that I am just going to go with it. Bear with me, Ashley and Shannon. For those of you who don’t know me and are reading this post, thank you so much for bearing with me. For those of you who have known me for awhile, this may explain part of who I am, but not all of who I am. You see, I have grown up and have learned how to deal with some of my awkward introverted tendencies. Let’s start from the beginning...actually let’s skip high school because...yeah we’ll skip that. High school was great, I was a weird kid, the end.
Fast forward...to 2016. You see, two years ago, I was fresh out of college and working full time. In college I was dating this absolutely adorable, one of a kind guy. Not even 11 months into dating this guy, we got engaged. Yes, I got engaged at what a lot would say a young age. 22 to be exact. Anyway, June 2016 rolled around, and we got married (YAY!). Well, here’s what happened. Philip (my now husband) had orders to move to Japan. He’s in the Navy, so obviously why not go to Japan? I was apprehensive at first, and continued to be apprehensive until the day I actually got on the plane to cross the Pacific. My stomach was in knots. I had spent 7.5 years in the Northern Virginia area and my life was comfortable. I had a small, tight group of friends, and for me, that was enough. Getting on a plane and moving to a military base 2 hours away from Tokyo was nerve-wracking. Exciting, but nerve-wracking. Being an introvert, it takes me a little while longer to adjust to my surroundings than other people. Socializing can be difficult for me, because small talk is a little uncomfortable and 90% of the time, I just want to talk about my dog. Side note-I have a dog and he’s adorable. I have been living in Japan for almost 2 years now, and during this time, I am still having a hard time adjusting to my surroundings. I think it shows too, due to my awkward mannerisms. I am aware of that, and try so hard to remedy that, but I can overcompensate and try to hard, and that shows through even more. Quite frankly, I sometimes apologize for coming across as awkward to people. Living on a military base is challenging as it is, because everyone sort of knows each other so first impressions are everything. When I moved here, everyone had their friend group going on, which is awesome. For me, I found it extremely hard to find my friend group. Today, I still do not have a solid friend group but I do hang out with groups of people. I do have a few really close friends that I open up to, and then most of the people I hang out with are people I know casually. Sometimes I wish I had a few more closer friends, but again, I find it so hard to connect with people because of my insecurities, and my inability to open up. I know that my introvertedness has come across as off-putting to a few people, and quite frankly, I am in a place where I wish I could be more extroverted, and maybe even more popular. But popularity doesn’t last. If you are still reading after this, maybe you can identify with a few of the things I just said, or maybe you think I am trying to solicit pity. I am not, however, I just want to lay out what me, as an introvert, thinks about a lot. Even though I have struggled to find my place in the community here, that doesn’t mean that the community here is bad. I have no qualms about any of the people here, even though I don’t feel included in certain things 100% of the time, that doesn’t mean I am being left out intentionally. A question that goes through my had a lot is, “Why not me? Is there something wrong with me?”
I travel a lot for work, and on one of my flights I finally opened my new copy of “Uninvited” by Lysa TerKeurst. If I could describe that book in one word, it would be “relatable.” Her book is yet another reminder that love does not uninvite. In one of the chapters, she highlights 10 things we all need to remember when we are rejected. One of things that stood out most to me is #7 on that list. As an introvert, I feel that I hold back on developing deeper friendships. Sometimes I try too hard, and even then that’s not enough. But there’s so much more to me then that part of my personality, I just don’t let it shine, so to speak. Now, I don’t want you to read this and think that I’m complaining. That’s not it at all. I struggle with who I am sometimes, but I find that when I cling to Christ and further my relationship with Him, those deeper friendships with others can follow. I will never be a perfect friend, but I can do my very best each day to show love, in spite of my fear of being rejected So instead of being desperate and forcing relationships and crying through the loneliness, remember the words of Isaiah 41:10.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (NIV)
This verse and so many other verses are extremely comforting to me. Even though I am a military spouse and there is this expectation that I am supposed to be an introvert, I remember that God is sovereign and He is always there for you, in times of community and in times of loneliness. I also want to point out that, you should never let your fears hold you back from loving others, even if you think you are super weird like me. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” When I moved to Japan and became part of a new community, I was so fearful that I would not be accepted. When I do not feel accepted, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the people around you don’t accept you. If you feel that there is something wrong with you, look back at those verses. You have never met me and I have never met you, but I can tell you right now that there is nothing wrong with you. You probably have some quirks, and probably fail more than you succeed, but you need to remember that despite our introvertedness, extrovertedness, and other flaws that we have, we are made whole in Christ. We will never be perfect, even if we try to be someone that we are not. While we are all sinners, we are redeemed daily in Christ, and that should give you comfort. I’m going to keep this straight to the point. More often than not, you are letting your fears get to you. But God gives us the power of love. Satan is the one that gives us the fear (Romans 8:15). There are still a lot of things that I need to work on personally, like writing better blog posts, but one thing is for certain, Jesus is my best friend, and He is yours too.
Rachel currently calls Ayase, Japan home, where she lives with her husband and fur child. In her free time, she loves reading books, talking about her dog, having intelligent conversations with her dog, baking, napping, and eating weird, yet delicious food like blowfish and natto. Even though she has a fear of flying, she has been to Bahrain, China, Japan (of course), Indonesia, Vietnam, and South Korea. You can find her on Instagram @therachelhawthorne, where she posts mostly about her travels and her dog.