Introvert in Africa (An Introvert in Unknown Territories)

My sisters and I landed in Zambia. My parents were waiting there for us. After our long trip, I was glad to be away from all the people in the massive airports that I had gone through to get to Livingstone. But, with anything, there are trade-offs. 

My parents, younger sister, and I went to Zambia for three weeks back in 2009. It was much different back then because I was much more outgoing because I did not care what anyone thought and as a child, you can get away with that. Since then, I have spent much more time on my own and I have found that I very much enjoy it. Therefore, I was concerned with the terrible amount of new people that I was going to come across in this journey. 

I had met a few people on the compound ten years ago but a lot changes in ten years. I was excited to see some of the people that I had met back in 2009. When we went on that trip, I spent a lot of time in the garden with the gardener. When I met him again in 2019, he was a lot shorter than I remember but I have grown significantly in the last 10 years. 

I met many missionaries while I was there and some of the medical students (since it is a teaching hospital). As daughters of the head doctor, the other missionaries and Africans wanted to meet all of us. We went to visit so many people that I lost count. I was always tired after these visits but it was well worth it. The fortunate thing was I had plenty of time to read and relax. 

I also spent more time with many family than I had in a long time. I had only spent a week or so with them at a time for the last few years. I spent a while with my mom and my sisters in the house playing games and trying to beat the December heat. That was more on me than meeting all of the other people, except for church. I was around them so much that even when I was reading there was something going on with them. I love my family but it was a lot at times. 

The most uncomfortable part of the whole trip was going to church. This had nothing to do with the service or religion but more to do with people and culture. Zambian culture is very extroverted. Everyone is excited to see everyone else and there is a lot of excitement all the time. They had me and my sisters stand up and introduce ourselves to the church. This. Was. Terrifying. I hated it. But, I got through that part. Then we were leaving the church and everyone started to line up and shake each other’s hands in a line. Everyone shook everyone else’s hand in the whole church. I was supremely uncomfortable. But, I got through it, again. This happened not once but twice because we went to two different churches. I was anxious throughout the whole thing and just wanted to flee.

I had to stay because it would have been supremely disrespectful to leave and I had nowhere to go on my own. As an introvert in an extroverted culture, I was exhausted and terrified for much of the time for my time in Zambia. But, I survived and I learned that even though I may feel exhausted and scared, growing experiences are necessary. I got to visit my family and see the world through a little bit of a different lens for a while. 

I have many more specific stories and stories about our tourist visit to the city. We went on a safari, white water rafting, and to Victoria Falls. If this is something you would be interested in hearing about, let me know in the comments below and I will do an extra post or two outside of my normal schedule. 

Please feel free to email me any questions, stories, themes, or ideas I am grateful for all your contributions.

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-Evi. L. Holmes

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