I am such an external processor.
Hahah, I still think that is pretty hilarious. Or, at least I laugh about it a lot. I think I laugh ¾ out of sheer joy in the freedom that discovering this has brought to my life... both in understanding so much about my past and in creating a way to understand my future. And I think I laugh ¼ out of incredulousness and excitement as I start to navigate how to engage with this.
I actually feel this way about a lot of things that I’ve recently identified about myself... like how I’m an extrovert. How I’m an external processor. How I’m an ENFJ. And how... well, a lot of other things!!
This is all incredibly freeing, revitalizing. I feel like I’ve been trying to hold my breath under the water in the bathtub for years and years, only to discover that if I just lift my face up a couple of inches I can see without soapy water burning my eyes (and I can see more than blurry water and my rubber duck’s yellow rear end) and I can be a lot kinder to my bursting lungs.
I realize I talk about this a lot. But it is exciting! I still feel like a baby on the day it first realizes that their 2D playmate is actually their reflection.... their curiosity and intense wonder is mine. I feel like that little girl at the Sunday School Christmas concert who, halfway through singing Christmas Isn’t Christmas ‘Til it’s Christmas in Your Heart, realizes that her voice is being magnified by the thing called a "microphone", and upon that realization proceeds to very rudely shove all of her other little Sunday School classmates nearly off of the stage, in an attempt to have the mic all to herself... (Yes, said girl was Little Cheralyn). There’s something beautiful (though embarrassing if you are the parents of Little Cheralyn... Yup, I’ve seen the tape – I can’t say I’d have blamed them if they’d driven home with an empty car seat that night) about those moments of discovery... life is just never the same afterwards. And there’s always a part of you that wonders how on earth you managed to live your life before that.
If you’re laughing [with/at] me on this one, it’s probably because you’re thinking of all those times I sit there and say little or nothing. Though that may be true of me, that’s another story. External processing can also take the form of writing or talking to yourself. I do both. (My apologies to the couple that was walking towards me as muttered to myself in Spanish tonight on the way home from church. I realize it probably looked strange, but, I’ve got to say, I was a little hurt that you crossed the street). It was nice to discover the rationale behind the drive to just get things out. As someone who, until recently, mistook herself as an introvert – or who had “become” one out of perceived circumstantial necessity, it’s also been beautifully freeing to begin to experience the way other people play a HUGE role in my externalizing my experiences and feelings. A big part of it is learning to just trust people as I test these waters - getting used to my sea legs, so to speak.
Probably the most exciting and beautiful thing about this is that I’m finally in a place where the people around me are making space for me to explore this (It really, really helps that most of them are people that use words like “internalize” and “externalize” and “introvert” and “extrovert” and “process”... and encourage and cultivate good self-awareness!). Oh, how I thank you for your patience, your encouragement, your trustworthiness and your shared excitement in this newness!
I actually just feel like a brand-new person. Or at least more like the Littler Version of Me. But that’s exactly what’s happening. As I continue to identify and face the circumstances and experiences that have moulded me into a generally guarded and isolated person, it’s clear to me that Jesus is restoring and unveiling a lot of these things in me (It’s like Jesus is in the recycling business or something!) and is offering me so much more if I engage with the world in the ways that I was created to.
And that is exciting!
This totally is not what I was going to write about tonight, but I guess I ended up externally processing about externally processing, haha. How delightful.