At the start of the summer I made a list of books I wanted to read. I haven’t made a lot of progress. Still. However, I have read a couple of them, and I am almost done with another. That’s not the point of this, though. I want to talk a little about Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.
The whole book is about how society has conditioned us to believe the only way to be truly successful is to be an extrovert. Cain challenges this by providing examples and scientific research about the positive aspects of being an introvert. It was a fascinating read, though it was pretty complex. I don’t feel I’m qualified enough to truly sparse everything Cain wrote, but I will say it made me think. A lot.
Primarily, it challenged how I viewed myself. Since I was in high school I have always considered myself to be an extrovert. I am outgoing, I enjoy public speaking and meeting new people, I am heavily involved in different organizations, I take on leadership roles that put me in a spot light without much thought, and I enjoy being around people. In my mind, this was the recipe for extroversion.
But then Cain wrote about people similar to myself who were introverts. They did many of the same things I do, but there was a difference. These people greatly valued time to themselves. They didn’t need to be in large groups to be happy. In fact, they often needed time to themselves to recharge.
This struck me. I too value time to myself. I need time to recharge in solitude. I am just as happy staying at home watching a movie or reading a book as I am going out and hanging with my friends. I prefer to express myself via writing (I have written a book and I blog fairly often). I make to-do lists and keep a detailed calendar of the various obligations I have.
At first, I was appalled. I couldn’t be an introvert. I was an extrovert. And proud of it! It was part of my identity, for goodness sake!
But then I took a step back and thought about what I was reading. Cain was telling me it was OK to be an introvert. It was nothing to be ashamed of. Furthermore, as Cain pointed out, a person isn’t necessarily purely and introvert or an extrovert. Most people contain within themselves elements of both.
I am both, though I now realize I am more introverted than extroverted. And that’s great. Being a little more introverted means nothing except, hopefully, that I am a little more reflective and thoughtful.
This newfound knowledge of myself has been very helpful. It has made me more aware of my own behaviors. I can now anticipate how I will react in various situations. Instead of trying to pretend I’m an extrovert all the time and at times struggling to be happy, I have accepted a part of myself and found everything to go smoother for me.
I have found new self awareness.
Of course, I wanted to be sure of one thing, beyond my own self-diagnosis. Am I quiet?
I went to Susan Cain’s website — http://www.thepowerofintroverts.com/ — and took her quiz. The results? I am a Moderate Introvert, and I think that is pretty accurate.
I wish I could go into more detail about everything Cain wrote because, as I said, it was fascinating; however, I don’t feel I would be doing it justice. All I can do is reiterate how thought-provoking it was (after all, it did spark with post) and urge you to read it.
And remember, being an introvert isn’t a bad thing, despite what our society might have us think. Introverts have as many positive attributes as extroverts. If you are quiet as well, embrace it with open arms.