I was always the quiet kid. I did not like to be put in the center of attention and I had trouble getting to know new people. I dreaded having to go to parties where I knew only a handful of people. I was called shy because I talked little. People learned quickly that I preferred to be alone or in small groups. And for a long time I thought that was “wrong,” in some manner. I thought that there was something off about the way I dealt with life because I was not comfortable in situations so many others seemed comfortable in.
My parents did their best not to force me into any situations that I did not want to be part of, but I know it was sometimes hard to have a kid who didn’t seem to want to talk to people. They were perfectly fine with me being quiet and spending time on my own, they never made me feel like I was doing anything wrong. It was more watching the world around me and wondering why I couldn’t be like everyone else. Was there something wrong with being the quiet girl? The one who preferred to hang out with two or three people versus a huge group? Who got tired after spending extended time with people?
It wasn’t until about 3 years ago that I came to understand what an introvert truly was and that there was nothing wrong with being one. I saw Susan Cain’s TED Talk (watch here) about being an introvert and it intrigued me. She was talking about me and she was talking about how there was nothing wrong with being quiet. I then found out she wrote a book and I knew I had to read it. The title Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, interested me right away.
I had heard the terms introvert, extrovert and ambivert before, I just didn’t have a good grasp on what they meant. I thought introvert’s were shy and extroverts were outgoing and loud and ambiverts were in the middle. After reading Quiet I learned that there was so much more to those terms than I knew about before.
One of the first things this book does is explain what an introvert is. The true difference between introverts and extroverts are how and where they gain their energy. Extroverts gather energy from being around people and being in social situations. While introverts gain their energy from being either alone or in small groups of people. Introverts get tired when they have to constantly be social.
I read these definitions and it instantly clicked with me. I don’t hate being around people (which is a distinction that is made many times throughout the book. Introverts do like being around people, just in smaller doses). I enjoy going out and spending time with family and friends. I love fun camping weekends and going on vacations but they also can be tiring for me. I find myself wanting to be alone for at least an hour or so. I find myself just needing time to decompress and for a while I thought there was something wrong with me. After reading Quiet I realized that there is nothing wrong with wanting to be alone sometime. There is nothing wrong with being someone who enjoys spending an entire day reading or watching TV without anyone else around.
One of the other things this book does is make a note that our world is an extrovert world, our society today (at least Western society) wants you to be social, all the time. You are expected to be able to go to networking events and talk continuously with people, you are expected to be okay with striking up conversations with everyone around you and want to spend all your time with people. You are expected to enjoy this and, for it to be something that energizes you.
Our society has trouble understanding why someone would want to stay home alone. Why someone doesn’t want to take part in small talk. Why would someone want to be quiet and listen more than talk? Our society instantly pushes these people to the side and calls us antisocial and shy. We are told that we need to change, we need to be more outgoing; or else we may not get the job or career we want or we may never find right person to be with.
This book explains the world we live in and then gives tips on how to exist in this world. Right now this is the society we have. Changing people’s perceptions and making them understand that introverts don’t hate everyone and don’t hate people will take time. It will take time for people to realize that sometimes we need time to recharge or we prefer to have deep conversations instead of pointless small talk.
I enjoyed this book because it told me that being introvert isn’t wrong. There is nothing wrong with how I interact and view the world. It helped me see ways that I can exist in our current world without overwhelming myself or completely changing who I am.
I no longer try to force myself into social situations that make me exhausted or uncomfortable because I think I have to do them. I take time to be alone, especially after extensive time socializing. I know how to take care of myself now. This book helped me start to understand this side of myself. I have also had other help with this but this book was a open door for me. I was hoping to better understand what the term introvert meant and I was pleasantly surprised to learn more about myself as I read.
If you are someone who is an introvert and wants to understand the term and what it means for you; or if you are someone who is interested in this part of personality, you will find this book helpful. It is a great book that explains who introverts are and what power they hold in our world today.