Perks of working with kids- “Does my head itch because I have lice, or because I THINK I have lice?”
. . .
In other news, I am an introvert. (Okay, okay. So that’s not news.) It’s been on my mind a bit lately, as I’ve been struggling even more with the mental energy that it takes to accept an invitation to go out with friends, or carry a conversation in the break room. It seems that as I get older, the more hermit-esque I am becoming. The most exciting part of the weekends to me is that I don’t have to see anybody! To me, that is the promise of rest. When I really think about it, the most difficult part of my job is not the kids- they won’t ask you about what’s going on in your life or expect you to carry on a conversation. It’s maintaining relationships with my coworkers. That requires more energy for me than dealing with meltdowns and oppositional behavior. Perhaps that is a reason I love my job, and it suits me perfectly, because it really is centered on other people. My energy is for the kiddos, and I don’t have to be noticed. Honestly, I like that and thrive in it. This is also why I am happy being an aid and not a teacher. The subtle, behind the scenes work to build up children and help them accomplish their goals. To provide a safe setting for them to develop into themselves. I LOVE that.
The struggle comes for me, though, when these introverted tendencies collide with my love for people. I WANT to carry on a conversation, and to know how you are doing. I WANT to hang out with my friends and laugh the night away, or work out our struggles. I truly believe that individuals are so valued and important, and I care. Honestly. When I ask how you are doing, I really want an answer, and care about your response. So how to balance this love for people with the fact that I get anxious and exhausted from talking to them?
I’m really not sure. All I can come up with right now is that, I need to put other people first. I mean, didn’t Jesus put other people first, even above his own life? Paul’s words to the Philippian church is a constant encouragement to me, in most phases of my life:
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset of Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death- even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:3-8).
Sigh. I have a lot of feelings about this, because it is a daily struggle for me. I am writing this partially so that my friends can understand maybe a little bit of why I pass up invitations to hang out, or take a long time to return phone calls, or do the dishes in the kitchen while most people are still chatting at Shabbat dinners. Also, I hope someone can relate to me and be encouraged by this post.
Because I follow Jesus and have a love for my friends and coworkers and other people in my ife, I am going to try to choose not to selfishly contain myself in my house and become the recluse that is always calling to me! So… feel free to challenge me when I allow my isolating tendencies to become my identity. But, every now and then, maybe let me hide out for a bit.
And thank you to my beautiful friends who understand me, and love me for who I am.