An Introvert of Exemplary Stature

Who knew there could be a war zone in a swimming pool?

It can break out when a large number of people show up for the Aquafit class.  No rules exist for positioning.  Fast or slow, introverted or extroverted, new, fit, aged…or not – we’re scattered about the pool.  Regulars grab their usual spot while “innocents” find a space that looks empty.   The music starts, we MOVE and the rights of territory become evident.  Pockets of black-belt ownership fueled by passive-aggressive silence exist just beneath the churning surface.

The brave men who join the class soon give up being gentlemen; it’s safer to act like a lady.

I confess…after a new and slower person consistently blocked my movement, I resorted to swishing the under-water into a resistance-filled stream to signal a desire to pass.  Trouble is, new aquafitters don’t clue in quickly.  Diplomacy needed the support of patience and a quick review of priorities.

One day I was delighted to see a very introverted friend join the class.  She and I have shared Contemplative studies originally taught by my spiritual teacher, Cynthia Bourgeault.  Though very “contained” she reveals her spiritual side of life whenever we have time together.  She openly discusses her die-hard introversion that keeps her from connecting more often.  Her depth and wisdom flow from a soul I love mining.

So, what do introverts usually do when faced with a crowd?  They go to the back of the class to be away from everyone else.  However, in our pool, the back two lanes are occupied by regulars who race through exercises at top speed.

I saw my introverted friend innocently walk into a landmine.  We were underway, with music roaring and our enthusiastic teacher shouting us through the paces.  I saw the introvert begin to compensate for a gent who has Parkinson’s.  This man hangs around the back of the pool thinking he’s out of the way.   The only reason he’s “given that spot” is because compassion exists for this long-term resident.

Predictably, my introverted friend ended up right beside the fastest, most extroverted person.  Not being one to practice passive aggression, the extrovert turned around and snapped, “You can’t be shadowing me.  You need to give me space.  Please stop being so close!”

My heart sank.  The introvert left the class early.  I considered phoning her to make sure she planned to come back.  However, letting her know I observed the incident may embarrass her more.  She wasn’t at the next class.

One week later, she reappeared.  I rushed up to greet her, “I saw what happened last week and I was dreading the thought that you may stop coming!”

This mature, seasoned and spiritual introvert gave me a big smile and said, “Are you kidding?  I’ve spent my whole life dealing with people like that.  I may be an introvert, but I’m not a wuss.”

Introverts may look like a pushover to some people.  But so do bears coming out of hibernation!

As a salute to my introverted friends,

I found this video thanks to

LouAnn –  On The HomeFront and Beyond.

It epitomizes the strength I saw in my friend.

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27 thoughts on “An Introvert of Exemplary Stature

  1. I like having my space…so although I live in SoCal…I live on five acres away from the crowds…I’ve never loved the crowds or for that much cities…so identified with her emotions.

  2. I do love your stories which always present a good lesson. This one gave me a chuckle, because I never ever would have thought about this happening in a pool.You must have a really big class, perhaps they will have to have a class for beginners and a class for the experts. we had to do that for Pickleball as some of the men were not willing to be patient with the new comers.

  3. –I LOOOOOOOOve this perspective.
    It makes me happy to know I’m not alone, crazy, or in the minority.
    I understand this video, her voice, the desire to find your own space…. I understand the need to be solitary and in my own company with God.
    Thank you, Amy. Xx

    • You write like an extrovert so your comment is a surprise, Kim. That’s a silly thing to say, most likely, since we all develop a style that attracts readership. So whatever yours is, it works!

      On the Briggs-Meyers (personality) assessment – http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp – which I taken a few times over a few decades, I score dead center. That means I am 50/50 introvert/extrovert – depending upon the need. I am energized by people, but when I need to get away, I need to act rather than postpone. Plus I am getting worse about having surface talk, sarcasm, one-upmanship or gossip pole-vault me home to my spiritual sanctuary.

      • I am an extrovert, mostly. Loud, opinionated, and passionate….
        but I LOVE & must have my own space. I dig my own company. Haha.
        For example, remember Dian Fosse? I could have been alone with the gorillas! Or I could have been a Monk!
        Love your teaching and perspective about life, Sweet Amy. Xxx

        • You are like my friend who I just mentioned in my comment to Titirangi Storyteller. I adore her energy which people have tried to “discipline” from the time she could move. On occasion I need to ask for her full attention which she very willingly gives…just needs notice that its wanted.

          I’m with you…I have always loved being with animals. I’d rather be in the wild with them where nature takes its own course. If I was on a farm, I’d agonize over taking good care – and would feel responsible to know animal husbandry inside out. My little buddy, Duc le Chat – fierce hunter and outdoorscat (in summer!), is terrifically independent 99% of the time. He’s such a BOY…brings me everything he hunts. Yet there’s the 1%! When he’s hurting, he’s pounding on the door so he can come onto my lap so I’ll figure out his boo-boo! One day he was doing some fancy tongue work that didn’t look normal. When I pried open his mouth, I discovered he’d bitten down on something and a stick must have gotten in the way. It became perfectly and firmly lodged across the roof of his mouth – his own teeth keeping it cemented in place. I pulled it out and he bunted me with an appreciative wet nose and was gone!

  4. I am also keenly aware of the ‘space games’ people play and am endlessly fascinated by the mostly passive aggressive dynamics at play…
    And really enjoyed the video. I suppose there are other people out there like me, but I’m the only one I know who is both introverted and extroverted. I live in the woods, away from ‘the world’ have as much quiet/away time as I need to think, refelct, write and create. But when the time comes, I don’t just slip into an extraverted personae, I really become that person and enjoy it completely. Ultimately the introvert wins and I spend the most time here, but since people only see me when I am doing the extrovert thing, the perception of me by most others is that I am an outgoing, outspoken, take charge, in your face go-getter. Hmmm…

    • Hi Titi! You and I are similar. Check out my response to “My Inner Chick”. How you describe yourself could be my description. I’m described as a woman who knows what she wants and where she’s going. Often it’s straight home to utter peace and quiet! 😀

      • Interesting on the Briggs-Meyers. I have consistently tested in the farthest corner of the extravert/judgemental zone. But that said, I have only ever taken it when I am in that place to start with. I’ve never taken the test from my woodland office. I am sure the results would be dramatically different…

        • I’m not sure the results would be different, Titi. At least with the Briggs-Meryers assessment. They claim (as with other valid psychological tests) that extraneous matters do not influence the results. I’ve scored the same after major changes in my life – both internally and externally.

          My very extroverted friend who can hardly be anywhere without talking to three people at once hits a wall, she says, and can hardly wait to get home and be totally alone. Sometimes she cloisters for days. Well, she calls it cloistering, but she’s with her husband…watching tellie or movies…reading books…talking on the phone. When I cloister, it’s in silence. However, my computer is my drug of choice!

    • Yah – groups. Maybe it’s my 50% introversion that creates a love of personal space – no matter where I am. I love sharing it – for a while. Then it’s time to clear the vibes. Did you like teaching?

  5. I love this line: The brave men who join the class soon give up being gentlemen; it’s safer to act like a lady.
    I do best one on one with friends and aquaintances. Although I do enjoy pushing myself out of my comfort zone occasionally, but then I retreat to my silent cocoon.

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