Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Won't Stop Talking

I read many phenomenal books within the past few months. One of them is the focus of this post. Mostly because of how personal it is. The book, "Quiet:The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking." was read in my book club last month. Reading it was so eye-opening for me, and honestly quite reassuring. Especially for a textbook introvert like me. Reading this book was very instrumental for me. To be honest, for quite a while I envied gregarious people; those people who never have  a hard time fitting in; they are the lives of any party. With just one sentence, they can have an entire room erupt in a guffaw. And then you have people like me; those of us who live in our heads.

"Why can't I be like that?" "Why can't I fit in or make friends as easily?" I always thought.

I had thought my greatest strengths were my biggest weaknesses. Thank you, Susan Cain.

This book was very explanatory. It mentioned different kinds of introverts (and extroverts) because everyone seems to mix them up. Everyone thinks ALL introverts are shy and timid, and while those may be traits of an introverts, not all introverts are shy and timid.

I have always been very introverted. I was the kids with no friends in the neighborhood, or in church, or even in class. I literally played by myself. I have always had a shell I carry around, and I have watched as the world treated introverts like second class citizens. Not necessarily intentionally. But in a world that subscribes "putting yourself out there"; in a world that prescribes networking for success, it is hard for naturally introverted people. I come alive in my own space, I don't like crowds or loud music...and more surprisingly, I don't really enjoy talking in public (at least not all the time). Surprising, because if someone were to judge me from my social media account or perhaps this blog for instance, such a person would think I was a big talker. The only thing weirder is that my family and close friends might not subscribe to this introvert label I have given myself, because I can be really loud and talkative. But believe me, I am more introverted than extroverted. In Myers-Briggs personality indicator, I repeatedly got INFJ which I have heard is the rarest personality type.

I saw a picture of Facebook's headquarters and their open-desk work style, with everyone in a big space and everyone seeing each other working; no cubicles, or offices, or cover of any sort. My skin was crawling and I shuddered at working at such an environment. But that's the reality. Should I be required to work in such an environment, I would not have a choice. I am just an introvert trying to maneuver an extroverted world. More than half of the jobs out there require you to be assertive, gregarious, loud, fun, a "people's person". Myself and many other introverts on the other hand; we would rather devote all that time and energy to close friends and family, we tend to dislike conflict,  we HATE small talk, and would rather write than talk. For the most part, it's not that I completely dread meetings and parties (sometimes I do), but after a little while I always want to be home under my covers watching my favorite show or reading a good book. I always need to recharge if I have to deal with too many people or events. Cain mentioned examples of famous academics and regular Joes who use bathroom stalls at events or parties to recharge. Guilty. Lol.

While discussing the book at our book club, someone mentioned the part of the book that touched on introverts and sensitivity. She always taught she was weird because of how affected she was by unfortunate happenings. I quickly seconded that she was not alone. I am the person who is downcast because of a problem happening halfway around the world to people I don't know a hoot about. I get bothered even by poignant episodes of my favorite shows, because I convince myself that it happens to people in real life. Susan Cain dealt with all these in her book. She explained some of these idiosyncrasies both scientifically and culturally. She dealt with nature vs nuture and the roles they play in the development of a child. That is, am I introverted because of my amygdala, my frontal cortex or am I introverted because of how I was raised? The book was very eye-opening.

What was most interesting however is that although she praises introverts as thinkers, with a natural prowess of concentration, persistence, insight, and sensitivity, she didn't glorify introverts as the miracle workers of the world. Rather she advocates that we be understood and valued for who we are.  She also does not say to ignore public speaking or socializing or any other thing introverts may find tedious just because. She says to do what we have to do if it is necessary in achieving certain goals we set for ourselves. She recommends getting help if needed, but to never forget our core or treat it as inferior. She also does a great a job of balancing both traits, of explaining that none is superior to the other. So it was not a book solely for introverts, because it launched us into the world of extroverts too albeit in relation to introverts.  Of course, she talked of the blending of both traits perhaps through marriage, friendships, or at work.

In the final chapter, she mentions what I think is my new favorite quote:

"Love is essential; gregariousness is optional"

I don't know that henceforth I will walk around head high, or be boisterous, or even be more outgoing. However, I know now that it is okay to not be outgoing, or gregarious, or "fun to be with"...it is ok to be who I am and who God made me to be.

Susan Cain herself was a  former wall street corporate lawyer who described her time at Wall Street as being in "foreign land". Haha See her TED talk here:



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