At the giant, bustling church I went to, introverts – especially teenaged introverts – stood out like nuns in a reggae bar. We simply didn’t blend in with the other youth group kids who were mostly spiky-haired, hyperactive boys and their bubbly blond girlfriends (okay, there were one or two brunettes and there was even a redhead at one point).
While I wasn’t exactly popular among the other youth, I did manage to endear myself to some people. Church leaders appreciated my quiet, peaceful nature. A couple of young adult men secretly wished I was old enough to date (what a lovely, God-fearing wife she would make, they thought).
There was one group in the church that appreciated and adored me more than any other: the elderly. I was like a rock star in their presence. They complimented me on my devoutness. They described me as “such a nice young girl”. Then, as a true sign of their affection, they tried to set me up with their grandsons.
This never amounted to anything since their progeny either lived in another city or were an inappropriate age for me.
I was doomed to remain single for most of my high school career and I was quite all right with that. Without a suitable young Christian boy to thrust upon me, church members turned their sights to the next viable option: another introvert.
Melinda (not her real name) and I had almost nothing in common besides our quietness. She was a rosy little bundle of girliness who spent most of her free time singing, taking care of children and reading Christian romance novels. I wasn’t quite sure who I was yet; however, I knew I didn’t emanate a cotton candy pink aura like she did. Nor was I particularly interested in Christian romance novels. Nevertheless the whole church seemed to conspire to bring us together.
“Have you met Melinda?” they asked. “She’s a sweet, shy girl like you. You two would get along great.”
I’m almost certain Melinda’s parents made her invite me over to her house. We had never said more than a few words to each other before our forced play date. They probably imagined us joyously connecting over our shared trait of quietness.
After our failed date, Melinda and I went back to our separate corners. She found a frilly, feminine best friend at her school and I found a pet rat in a local pet store.