One of my favorite books from the last couple of years is Introverts in the Church by Adam McHugh. I find myself recommending it often—especially on the second or third day of a conference, when those of us who are introverted start to visibly deflate from all the stimuli. The book helped improve my prayer life, my relationships, and my view of myself. You can read my full review here. For today’s guest post, Adam shares what it’s like to be pigeon-holed as “the introvert.” If you’re interested in contributing a guest post of your own, check out the guidelines here.
The Introverted Brand
by Adam McHugh
Introverts in the Church is actually a serious book. I didn’t realize I would have to remind people of that when it was published.
But one of the first book reviews I read, written by a dear friend and mentor, started out by saying “Introverts in the Church. No, this isn’t a joke.” And here I thought the title was significantly less funny than other working titles I was playing with while writing it:
1. Introverts in the Shack
2. Three Cups of Tea…By Myself
3. Blue Like Introverts
4. Girl Meets Introvert, and Keeps Looking
5. The Life You’ve Never Wanted
6. I Kissed Introverts Goodbye
7. Left Behind, and Happy About It
Surprisingly, my publisher rejected those title options. (If I were writing it now, I might try Introvert Winsand find a ragingly extroverted pastor to tweet: “Farewell Adam McHugh.”) I thought we settled on a boring but descriptively informative option, but apparently my book title also works as a punch line.
As many authors can attest, however, after a few months of talking about your book topic, day after day after day, you get the writer’s equivalent of the late-night giggles. You get so tired that everything becomes funny. You catch yourself applying the topic of your book to every conceivable situation.
I started seeing introverts the way Haley Joel Osment sees dead people. As I poured the milk on my cereal, I pondered “Hmm, I wonder what type of cereal introverts prefer? Shredded Wheat has a lot of substance and depth, but Lucky Charms has layers of meaning, and the more you eat it, the more you learn about it.” Then you realize what you’re doing and you consider pouring the weird green-colored milk over your head. Yes, I went with Lucky Charms. I am an Irish introvert, you know.
It doesn’t help that people you only encounter in social media tend to reduce you to your book topic. Once I received a request to write a blog post on how introverts and extroverts can partner together in ending the international orphan crisis. Now, this is one of the pressing global issues of our time, but is the fact that I need to retreat into solitude after extended social interaction really a significant factor in solving it?
Another time I tweeted that my book was selling better on Kindle than in paperback, and the first response was “Maybe introverts are just thrifty.” I’ve received a few Facebook birthday wishes that said “Happy Birthday, introvert.” Or there was the time I confessed that in college we smuggled in a student from another school to be our flag football quarterback (he was the brother of a guy on our team and also just happened to be a Heisman trophy candidate that year) and someone replied “Totally sounds like something an introvert would do.”
Because of all this, it’s unclear to me whether this introvert thing is a genius piece of branding (in addition to being, you know, my personality type) or else an inescapable straitjacket that will limit me and be a bit of a joke. In 20 years will people say “that book really changed things in evangelical culture and Adam has become a significant voice in the church” or will they say, in a sexy deep voice: “Adam McHugh: he is the most introverted man in the world. He doesn’t always go to church, but when he does, he probably won’t talk to you.”
Time will tell.
Ever been branded or pigeon-holed?
I (Rachel) am often pegged as "the woman's voice"...as in, "It's so great to have a WOMAN here to talk about this!"
And I'm curious - are you an introvert or an extrovert?
© 2011 All rights reserved.
Copying and republishing this article on other Web sites without written permission is prohibited.