Going to a new parish isn’t easy. You know all know what I mean. Whether you’re “church hopping” (trying to find the right parish community for you) or just visiting, we’ve all been the “new kid” at one point or another. Every parish has their own community dynamics; their own way of doing things. Stepping into that close-knit environment can be intimidating. Unfortunately, these thoughts (and emotions) get greatly magnified when you’re an introvert.
Do you extroverts want to know what goes on in the mind of an introvert when attending Mass at a new parish? Or, do you fellow introverts want to make sure you’re not the only ones who have these thoughts? Well, then, check out these stages (and emotions) of going to a new parish as an introvert.
You start imagining what might happen before you even get to the parish
Once you see the building, your heart rate picks up and the cold, clammy palms become a reality
You try to find the nearest entrance (towards the back of the church) and make a beeline towards it
You start praying that the ushers will be nice as they’re your first impression of the community.
Once you get past the ushers (phew!) you try to assess the floor plan—que round two of anxiety
You try to find the closest pew/seat to the exit . . . towards the back of the parish
Every time someone walks by and looks at you, you start worrying that maybe you’re in their “usual spot”
As the church fills up, you busy yourself in the church bulletin. Blood drive next week? Fascinating!
If you’re a chapel veil-wearing lady and you’re at an Ordinary Form Mass, you will try to see if there’s anyone else who veils—if you see at least one person, you feel your shoulders relax
As soon as Mass begins, you suddenly become very interested in the missalette found in the pew—hey, you like to read along!
You know you should be paying attention to the readings, but you get easily distracted by all the latecomers and the cute babies vying for your attention
Speaking of latecomers, you secretly pat yourself on the back because you can’t imagine being stuck in the middle of a packed pew or (worse!) in the front for all to see
When the priest gives his homily, you try to ignore all the distractions and pay close attention. Bonus points if the priest laughs at his own jokes before he tells them
Oh no! It’s coming! “It”? Yes! That moment when you start praying that the person next to you doesn’t want to hold hands during the “Our Father”
Round three of anxiety: you start mentally prepping yourself for the sign of peace. Oops! Need to wipe those clammy palms
Okay, phew! Not as bad as you’d imagined. Now to try to remind yourself that you’re almost home free except . . .
You start imagining all the things that could go wrong when going up to receive the Eucharist. Tripping, falling . . . the possibilities are endless
You sigh in relief when you’ve made it back to your seat without incident and try to relax. But wait . . .
While you’re ready to bolt to avoid the post-Mass traffic jam, you remember that Judas left early, too. You won’t be making that mistake
Your leg begins to impatiently shake as you wait for the final blessing
As soon as the final blessing is given and the priest leaves the altar, you try to quietly slip out the back and leave before the traffic jam gets worse
Oh, wait . . . they’re giving donuts?! New dilemma: do you want to mingle with new people for that sweet treat or do you just bolt? The choice is yours