vocation

Workplace Confessions of an Introvert

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For the entirety of my adult life I have been told that work is good. When work gets tough, everyone tells me that God created work as good, so my work must be good, too. I won’t dispute this claim since any attempt to do so may result in me being struck down with the wicked. Yet there’s a part of me that still struggles each day.

If work is so good, why is it so hard?

Why Work Is Hard

The curse is one reason work is hard. When Adam and Eve sinned, everything was messed up (Genesis 3). As a result, the good work we do is now more difficult than it should be. I’ve known this since Sunday school as a kindergartener. Yet even with this knowledge, why is there still this huge tension in my chest, a disturbance in my soul, that screams to be released from the prison of work? Sometimes work feels much more than a result of the curse – it’s hell on earth.

The drudgery of going to work every day. Waking up early just to sit in traffic for an hour. Expending all my energy in the ten hours I’m away from home just to return to cooking, dishes, laundry and puppy, not to mention trying to be a good wife. And that’s just one day.

People do this routine every day of every year for decades, so I know it’s possible. There has to be some solution to my feeling so defeated every day because of work and school. Well meaning friends have given me a laundry list of potential solutions, all good, that seem to fall by the wayside the moment I have the chance to implement them. So what is there to do? Is there something uniquely wrong with me?

As I search my heart, the more I believe that something else is at the root of my discontent: I am an introvert.

Introverts face a unique and often overlooked challenge.

Introverts at Work

Now, for those not well-versed in the psychology of personality, an introvert is a person whose energy is depleted by human interaction. The more mental stimulus they receive, the more exhausted and overwhelmed they feel.

Extroverts, on the other hand, are energized by interaction. Talking to people, being busy and stimulation tends to give them bursts of energy, which strengthens them all throughout the day and sometimes into the evening.

By these descriptions, perhaps the current work environment is more suited to the extrovert than the introvert. Many companies want their employees to work in teams, be outgoing and vocal, and always be doing something productive. Such demands are exhausting for introverts like me. We often feel like we’re being pushed around, beaten down and minimized because we don’t have the energy and drive of our peers.

Work, then, is that much harder. The curse is in full swing, but so is our mental and emotional capacity.

Don’t get me wrong, my introversion isn’t an excuse. I fully believe that wherever God places us He will give us the strength and ability to do it to His glory. And I also fully believe that we are being conformed to the likeness of Christ. When life gets hard we don’t just throw our hands up in the air and claim a disability.

But we introverts do face a unique and often overlooked challenge. Work and life, especially in combination, will be a daily struggle if we don’t recognize our limitations and do what we can to rely on God’s strength to get us through.

When we are weak, God is strong.

A Word to Fellow Introverts

The truth is, I don’t have the solutions. Ask my husband – I still struggle every day. Some days, I come home nearly in tears just ready to be done with the day. My chest contracts when I think about all I have to accomplish and how much energy it will take to do it all. Yet through it all I have to persevere. I have to rely on Christ even more than I normally would. I have to tell myself that work is an inevitable part of life and if God is in it, it can be good. It still won’t be easy. It will still be a daily struggle.

My fellow introverts, don’t let my words about work discourage you. You are not a bad Christian because work is more difficult for you. Instead, be encouraged. You are not alone, and that there is hope.

Hope that when we are weak, God is strong. Hope that the drudgery and exhaustion of life doesn’t have to keep us down.

Maybe your solution involves finding some actual alone time. Maybe you should look for a new job, if God leads. Maybe you simply need to know your unique struggle and ask God for grace each and every morning before work. I don’t know the answer is for you, and I’m still figuring out what it is for me.

But this truth I have to cling to: God is good, He made work, I must work, and it will all be okay. It may not be awesome or spectacular or wonderful, but it’s okay. I’m okay. And God will bring me through today, because He’s my God, He loves me and this is the life He has ordained for me to have right now.

So until the day I die, I ask for His grace and mercy to help me work with joy, thankfulness and energy.

Hannah Dawson is a part of the Center for Faith and Culture’s mentorship program.

Image Credit: Christopher Burns/ Unsplash

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Hannah Dawson

Hannah Dawson is the wife to an amazing man and mother of a beautiful puppy dog. She received her BA in Psychology from California Baptist University and is currently pursuing an MA in Counseling from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She works at the US Attorney's Office in Raleigh.

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