I admit I felt panic rush over me at the thought of using my counseling training for a group in India. My strong reaction indicated more than just my insecurity and apprehension of leaving the comfort of my home and community. I realized that it wasn’t even the cross-cultural experience that concerned me, it was being with the same four people for 24 straight days (and nights!) that made my heart pick up pace.
Moving out of my comfort zone as an introvert and communing 24/7 with a small group of people seemed volatile, unmanageable and so exposed. I know I can self-manage through rejection and fear but involving others seemed less secure. I cannot control someone else’s commitment, moods, motivation or acceptance of the real me.
And yet I am called to stretch myself in the outdoor air of community. Without connection to community, my ideas become inbred and lacking in diversity, my energy self-reliant, and my perspective uniform. While solitude and meditation are very appropriate ways to cultivate depth, such practices alone lack the synergistic power that comes through vulnerable relationship with others.
In the end, I went and my introvert soul survived. At the end of the 24 days, as the other four women and I walked slowly away from each other, dragging our battered luggage behind us, our faces were wet with tears. A piece of my heart went with each of them.