What the hell? An extrovert in ministry

When I started studying at a certain Episcopal seminary, one of the immediate things we first year students all did was take an official Myers-Briggs test. While I had taken “online” tests before, this was my first “official” test. Everyone else seemed to already know their “sign,” and they were proud of it. They used it to explain themselves and why there were who and how they are.

My test results came back ESFP – Extroverted, Sensing, Feeling, and Perceiving. I was the only ESFP in the class, and I was one of 2-3 Extroverts – at most. Our teacher and facilitator of the test took one look at my results and said, “What the hell are you doing in seminary?”

It’s apparently a known fact that most people in ordained ministry are Introverts, meaning that when they are done dealing with people all day, they are drained and exhausted, and need alone time to “recharge.” I am the opposite. When I am done dealing with people, I may be physically tired just from working all day, but I want to be around more people! I’ve even been known to get cranky when I’ve been by myself for too long. Even an interaction with a stranger on the street, or a cashier, or a phone call, can get me back on track. While I certainly do not want to constantly go to parties, time alone begins to make me itch for time with people. It also makes me go all FOMO (Fear of Missing Out – what events or parties am I missing? Are my friends doing things without me? etc.)

There was a time in my life when I was shy. After losing my father at a young age, I took to theatre, which became a main source of emotional recovery for me. I believe this strengthened both my Extroverted tendencies, as well as my Feeling tendencies. I also take after my mother, who is an extreme Extrovert, and was often called “Judy Friendly” by family members (both lovingly, and with a note of sarcasm).

Fast forward to now: I am doing my field education internship at a Bilingual parish this year (Spanish/English). My Spanish is not up to par, and while I am learning, it is still difficult for me to have detailed conversations. This has caused me to act “shy” at certain parish events when the majority of the people there are only Spanish speakers. After being an outgoing, extroverted person who is always happy to talk to someone, a new anxiety has gripped me when I am around Spanish speakers. It is so against my nature and tendency to not be outgoing that it is physically painful – I long to talk to people, but fear going blank and losing my words. It has been an interesting experiment: I am sure I will continue to improve in Spanish, and so this situation will hopefully improve, but my silence has taught me a great deal about when and how I speak. Maybe I do talk too much!!

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