I’m sure most of you know that I like to read books and write reviews for this awesome blog. I also enjoy being by myself for a longer period of time (and no, I don’t feel lonely, I have my awesome self keeping me company 😉 ), yet I still like to hang out with my close friends and talk about everything and nothing. In group gatherings, I only talk when I think it’s necessary or when someone asked me a question, I rather like to listen to the hilarious stories my friends have to tell. Yet, when I am with a friend one-on-one, I can’t seem to stop talking. I like people, but in small doses.
But what does this have to do with this book review. Well, you see, this book is about introversion and it may or may not be a surprise for you to find I am an introvert. It’s safe to say that I have been an introvert for as long as I can remember. The only thing that was missing was the term and an explanation from people, instead of saying it’s “unusual” (aka weird) to spend a whole weekend by oneself to watch a favorite TV show (or read a book) or to not raise one’s hand in class to share the answer with the classmates. But I guess back then the terms “extrovert” and “introvert” had not made it to my 2,000 inhabitant “chicken town”.
Then, about a year ago, Ashley mentioned something about introversion or maybe it was me mentioning something to her, I don’t recall. But whoever told the other first is not important; the important thing is that we talked about it and I am really grateful for that.
In this past year I have managed to read my fair share of introvert articles and I learned a lot about my personality. Then a couple of weeks ago I finally found the time to dive into Susan Cain’s Quiet. She managed to explain introversion with various elements and history was one of them. She not only mentioned famous introverts like Rosa Parks and Eleanor Roosevelt and what they stood for, she also explained in great detail at what point extroversion started to take over the world.
Apart from history lessons, Cain uses real life experiences from real life people: high school/college/uni students, professors, parents, scientists, colleagues, friends etc. Those real life stories made me realize that there are way more introverts in this world than I ever expected. There are even those who act and seem extroverted but are actually introverted. I was told a few times by different people that they were surprised by my introversion. I may not be the most introverted person on the planet, since I like to go to bars with my friends, dance my feet off in a club from time to time or go on adventures during my travels. But there are still a lot of personality traits that make me an introvert. I guess I am just good at faking extroversion.
[The] Free Trait Theory [states, that] introverts are capable of acting like extroverts for the sake of work they consider important, people they love, or anything they value high. […] Free Trait Theory applies in many different contexts, but it’s especially relevant for introverts living under the Extrovert Ideal.
But she not only interviewed scientists about their own experiences, Cain also uses different studies from different scientists to underpin her own research about introversion.
And Susan Cain? This may not be a surprise for you, but Cain is an introvert herself. She understands what she talks about and she gave this book a personal touch by sharing her own experiences with the reader.
Introverts living under the Extrovert Ideal are like women in a man’s world, discounted because of a trait that goes to the core of who they are.
As the quote states, being an introvert these days is frowned upon. Today’s society and companies want us introverts to be loud, forthcoming, quick, brisk and confident. Being quiet, level-headed and cautious means you are weak. Introversion has become something negative. But the truth is, there is nothing negative about introversion; introversion is something positive that should be embraced. Being an introvert has many positive perks and Susan Cain states that throughout her entire book.
Reading the stories, facts and research projects made me more confident about my introversion and embrace it instead of being ashamed of it. This is who I am and by now I feel more comfortable in dealing with it more openly around other people.
Quiet is a book for everyone: it is for people who are not sure if they are introverted but would like to find out, for introverts who want to learn about their personality, for extroverted parents to learn more about their introverted child’s personality, for the extroverted boyfriend/girlfriend who wants to understand their introverted partner a little better, for everyone who always wanted to learn something about introversion.
A few years ago, I first learned of the term “introvert” while scrolling through Pinterest. I found this photo and immediately thought, “Yes, that’s me!”
Giving a name to something that I felt made me seem strange my whole life was my first step in developing confidence about being a quiet person. After years of reading articles about introversion, and then finally taking they Myers-Briggs test to confirm I what I already knew, I finally was beginning to feel understood, or at least understanding myself. When I came across Susan Cain’s book, I knew I had to read it for the title alone. “Finally, someone gets it!!” As I dove into Quiet, I found myself underlining something on nearly every page. So many things were resonating with me after years of feeling like an outcast for being different from everyone else.
“By the time I was old enough to figure out that I was simply introverted, it was a part of my being, the assumption that there is something inherently wrong with me. I wish I could find that little vestige of doubt and remove it.”
Susan Cain delves into the history of introversion and the “Extrovert Ideal” America has placed on its citizens with the use of advertising and movies, and more so today with social media. Society feels the pressure to not only look beautiful and eye-catching, but have a winning personality, too. Unfortunately, the Extrovert Ideal did not simply target adults, children with forms of shyness in the 1920’s were considered to have “maladjusted personalities” and were thought more likely to develop problems later in life such as alcoholism and even commit suicide. However, children with outgoing personalities were likely to reap the most benefits in life, including financial and social success. All of these misconceptions were peddled to create “like-able people”.
Luckily, people like Susan Cain have studied and written books to debunk these old-fashioned ideas, which have helped create the most accepting time in history for introverted people. Today, there is more understanding of quiet and sensitive people than ever before, though there still is a long way to go. One of the most interesting things I found in Susan Cain’s writing was that high-reactive introverts tend to actually sweat more and literally have thinner skin than extroverts. Scientists believe this is where the idea of being “socially cool” comes from “the cooler the skin, the cooler you are.” Fortunately, in today’s times people like Susan Cain, Laurie Helgoe, and websites like Introvert Dear are making Introversion seem cooler than ever before. Introverts are learning ways to stay true to who they are without feeling the need to pretend to be someone else quite as much, and Extroverts are learning ways to nurture the Introverts they love.
“Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to. Stay home on New Year’s Eve if that’s what makes you happy. Skip the committee meeting. Cross the street to avoid making aimless chitchat with random acquaintances. Read. Cook. Run. Write a story. Make a deal with yourself that you’ll attend a set number of social events in exchange for not feeling guilty when you beg off.”
If any of these topics resonate with you, you are likely to also be a more introspective type of person, too. As Sabrina said above, however, this book is beneficial to people of all personality types. We highly recommend this informative publication with the hope you will consider picking up a copy right away. You are likely to come away brimming with knowledge and newfound “quiet” confidence.