Interesting moment in my therapy this morning, when we got to talking about introversion (lest there be any doubt, "My name is Sam and I am an introvert" [grin]). Did a quick Google search when I got back and was reminded of this interesting article from The Atlantic.
Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? [...] Leave an extrovert alone for two minutes and he will reach for his cell phone. In contrast, after an hour or two of being socially "on," we introverts need to turn off and recharge. My own formula is roughly two hours alone for every hour of socializing.
I was recently reminded of my first thinking about Killing George Herbert, and what parishes actually want. For one way of describing what is wanted - at least, what people tell me that they want, ie 'this is what we would like you to do'(!) - is to say 'the parish wants an extrovert'. Someone who is comfortable - no, someone who is enthused and inspired by the social whirl, who will happily be active in seeking conversations, in 'being visible' - and, therefore, someone who gains energy from such things. Which is, of course, a possible description of hell for the introvert.
My therapist commented that this was a particularly CofE difficulty. In the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches it is much more straightforward to serve as an introvert, not least because the expectation is that a person will seek the priest, not that the priest will seek the people. Introverts can be brilliant when a person knocks at the door and seeks specific and particular help (presumably that's why so many introverts are called to the ministry) but when the dynamic is the other way around (eg "visiting") then it runs quite strongly against the grain. It's also why - at least for me - I find liturgy so essential. It's probably an exaggeration to say evangelical = extrovert, anglo-catholic = introvert, but there's _something_ there!
I had thought that my deafness was a large part of why I find socialising so draining - which is probably one factor - but I have now come across half-deaf people who don't worry about group gatherings half so much, so personality does have a lot to do with it.
One final thought - in chatting to some old friends from my curacy at the weekend (I was in London for a big do) - the comment was made that all a parish needs is to know that they are loved. I think that's true - and certainly something to aspire to - but it does run both ways. There is something here about parishes becoming big enough (in every sense) to be able to accommodate the diversity of priests that pass through, cultivating a flexibility of expectation and valuing the good things about a priest, putting up with the bad. Truth be told, Mersea is pretty good at that... but I know of many colleagues where that hasn't been true.