Sunday, September 4, 2011


Despite how I may seem, I consider myself to be a shy person at the core. Definitely introverted, if not shy.

Somehow, somewhere along the line, I taught myself how to act outgoing. This often comes in handy for teaching, especially when I need to try and draw out students who are also shy... however, this ability also proves to be detrimental in other situations.

Small group settings, for instance... though deep down my natural instinct is to keep quiet and not draw attention to myself (or at least, it used to be), I find myself talking a lot. Too much, sometimes. I find that I have a difficult time with silences and gaps in conversation, and often try to fill those gaps by speaking up. Sometimes I don't even wait for gaps--I just try to throw in my two cents, solicited or not... I try to one-up the story that had just been told... I try to be funny or goofy. For these reasons, I tend to not be a very good listener, as I spend most of my time during group conversations trying to think of what I can say next. But really, isn't this tantamount to not thinking? You see, thinking involves listening... REALLY listening and processing what others are saying, and then responding appropriately (which is not always by chiming in my opinion or telling a story of my own). The result is that I end up saying lots of things that simply don't need to be said. Not hurtful, necessarily, nor offensive... pointless, though. Shallow, a waste of breath and time.

Lately, I've been trying to put myself into the shoes of others (this being a skill I am asking my students to practice), and see myself as others see me. The result isn't always flattering, but at the same time, I know that this process will help me to grow, ultimately. The frustrating thing is, I know that it's not my nature to talk too much and say unnecessary things. It started with a behavior that I taught myself and practiced in an effort to overcome my shyness, and now it occasionally mutates to an extreme that I would not have predicted.

I pray that God will grant me the patience to deal with lulls and silences in conversation... that He will grant me the wisdom to know when to speak as well as when not to. I pray that I may practice being an active listener this year and that I may grow in my ability to communicate with others by speaking less myself.

Self-awareness, when you're being really honest with yourself, is scary and painful. Fortunately, it's part of a process and not the final portrait of who you are.

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