The country where I’m normal

I think that America idealizes an outgoing, risk-taking personality.  If you’re naturally a cautious introvert like me, sometimes it seems like the world is telling you that in order to get anywhere in life, you have to become somebody you’re not.

One of the truly life-affirming things I experienced my first time in Japan was living in a society where my personality type is the ideal.  Despite living in a foreign culture, I felt for the first time as if the people around me expected me to act in a way that comes naturally to me!  I can’t express what a joy it was to simply act like myself and be understood.

Even after I returned to America, I still felt more confident, because I’d internalized an important truth:  it was okay to be who I was.

(Incidentally, I’ve also met some not-so-average Japanese people who I suspect might experience the same thing in reverse if they went to America!)

After returning to the Church, I was delighted to learn that it teaches that there are all different kinds of people, and there’s nothing wrong with any of us.  After all, God purposely chose to create each of us with all of our unique qualities because that’s exactly what He wanted us to be like!  (Catholics often point to the wildly varying lives of the saints to illustrate the point that God gives each of us the talents we need to accomplish our own unique mission in life.)

One way that Catholics talk about personality differences is in terms of the four temperaments.  My own temperament is clearly Melancholic, and now that I know that’s a thing, I’m not apologizing for it!


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