The Extrovert’s Challenge

Shanti Grumbine, Studio Detail of Asemic Textiles (Including Key and Tuning Fork), 2016, New York Times plastic sleeves, nails

I am an extrovert. An off-the-charts extrovert. Like I could sit in the middle of Grand Central during rush hour and feel energized and focused and motivated. I have come to know this about myself over time and with a lot of help and guidance.

I first came to know this about myself through my relationship with my husband. He’s an introvert. And off-the-charts introvert. Like he could sit with me all day and never say a word and feel energized and focused and motivated. We worked together to become aware of our differences and how we could be respectful of each other. I’m happy to say, knowing this about each other and respecting each other’s boundaries and needs has made a very positive impact on our relationship.

But when it comes to my career, I need to be around people. I need to interact with people. I need to talk with others and process information. If I don’t do these things, I start to feel discouraged and lethargic and bored.

I say all of this because currently, I am struggling at work. I am a hospital chaplain at one of the largest city hospitals in the country. I am constantly surrounded by people. I am constantly talking with or listening to people. I am always with people.

But I am not with colleagues. There is only one other chaplain at the moment as the chaplain department has no leadership. What this means for me is that I have no professional colleagues to be an extrovert with and that has caused tremendous stress for me.

Being a hospital chaplain means that all day long I am with patients and their families and also with staff who are suffering, sick, and dying. There are many tears, lots of anger, lots of emotions and heavy stories. There are many heart-breaking cases.

What I need more than anything, is a group of professional colleagues to journey with me, to support and be supported by, to process information with. I want to ignore it because it is hard to network with other local chaplains. I started meeting with a chaplain at a hospital up the street, but he just left the city for another job. Another chaplain I had made a connection with at another hospital nearby also left recently. So I am back to zero.

And therein lies my challenge—to create a community for myself.

This is my greatest challenge and it’s one I can’t ignore. I suppose it’s time to start actively networking online—I’m not great at putting myself out there on social media, but perhaps it’s time. I suppose I should rely on one of my core characteristics—extroversion!

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