Shhh! I’m an Introvert

Intrigued by the title, I picked up Susan Cain’s book Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.  My initial interest was geared towards the latter part of the title “a world that can’t stop talking.”  I assumed the book would be a sort of sociological/cultural analysis of American society.  But, after plowing through the first chapter, I found myself a bit startled to see so much of my own personality in her description of an introvert.  In fact, she lists twenty “yes/no” questions for the reader to determine the extent of one’s introversion; the more one marks “yes,” the more one is introverted.  I answered “yes” to 18 of the questions!   The more I read on I could feel a sort of weight lifted off my shoulders.  Indeed, because I am not particularly shy I had not thought of myself in this fashion; however, Cain points out that there is a common confusion between shyness and introvertedness.  Introverts are not necessarily shy.  Quite the contrary, introverts can give presentations and be social.  The distinguishing trait is that introverts retreat from interaction in order to re-boot.  Some introverts need more time than others.

I should back up here.  Why was I feeling like a weight had been lifted?  Cain explores the dynamics of being an introvert from biology, psychology, and referencing famous historical figures who were introverts.  As I was reading I realized not only that I expressed the traits of an introvert but that I have spent of good deal of my life apologizing and feeling guilty about being introverted.  Let me be blunt: I thought I was just plain weird!

From when I was young and throughout my college years, for example, I attended social gatherings but I was usually one of the first to leave.  After two hours of chatting I wanted nothing more than to be at home and to read.  Now, at the end of a long week of teaching, I notice that I need a day (or three) for myself to recover from all of the interaction.  I absolutely love teaching, but to be effective I must take a time out from the world once the work week is over.  I will plant myself at home with a book, turn off the phone, and sometimes postpone or reschedule social plans.  Even emailing gets suspended for this re-booting time.

Reading, an inherently solitary affair, has been and remains a large part of my life.  I read for nearly five hours a day. (Some days I have been known to read all day.  When I started The Brothers Karamazov, for instance, no one saw me for a week.)  I read a novel a week (give or take) in addition to reviewing my lectures, grading, and of course, reading Philosophy.  This is something I would rarely share with anyone because I knew it was…well…weird.  However, Cain’s book has assured me that this is quite typical and dare I say it, normal, given the disposition of being introverted.  She traces the trend to become extroverted as part and parcel of an American “success” to the publication and phenomenon of How to Win Friends and Influence People.  With the onset of this popular book, the ideal mode of communication swayed towards talkativeness and being outgoing.  Success meant, in part, imbibing the extrovert persona.  This inevitably eclipsed the power of the introverted disposition.  Qualities such as listening and retreating to problem solve (rather than group think) were undervalued.

At different points in my life a few people have said things to me along the lines of I needed to be out more or that I must spend time alone because of some childhood trauma. (Side note: childhood IS traumatic.) While reading Cain’s book these memories sprouted and gave me pause, for I had allowed people to make me feel sheepish about me being me.

After reading Cain’s book I not only know more about the sociological and biological dimensions of introversion, but I’ve actually come to be more comfortable about myself.  I’m not weird.  I’m not anti-social.  I’m an introvert!

For my dear readers, extroverts and introverts, never let anyone try to make you feel strange for delving into what you love.  I think that is the overarching reason I wanted to create this post.  Be stylish, interesting, social, quiet, creative, mathematical…whatever!  Just be tuned into what makes you YOU and flourish.

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About unsolicitedtidbits

Philosophy, books, coffee, Mexican food enthusiast. View all posts by unsolicitedtidbits

27 responses to “Shhh! I’m an Introvert

  • emermeyetea

    I’ve always considered myself as an introvert, but a strange one at that because I had no qualms about public speaking nor did I have such a massive problem about chatting to people if I really needed to. However, I knew I was an introvert because I generally avoided the social side of life and preferred having lots of alone-times. It’s interesting to note that I am just a plain introvert, and not a strange one at all. I’m now very curious to have a read of that book.

  • abeautifulepiphany

    I’ve been meaning to read Quiet as I’ve heard great reviews. Very nice post

  • bronxboy55

    The truth is, you are weird. Most of the people I meet seem to be extraverts who can’t stop talking and who thrive on noise, motion, and stimulation. Of course, I tend not to meet introverts because they’re home reading a book or quietly thinking — and so am I.

    The world would be even more of a disaster than it already is without introverts. As you said so well in this post, it’s a personality trait, not a disorder that needs fixing. I suspect you have a few students who will receive the long-term benefits of your insight.

    Do you know about HSPs — Highly Sensitive Persons? There’s an excellent book by Elaine Aron that helped me stop thinking there was something wrong with me. There’s a lot more information on her website:

    http://www.hsperson.com/

  • bensbitterblog

    I learned what it was to be an introvert from those personality tests. I was shy when I was young so assumed that I was always an introvert, but then when I attended college I got really social and enjoyed it and thought that I was an extrovert, but after taking those tests (and reverting back to being not as social after those years) I realized that the whole recharge thing was what makes us different from extroverts. After hearing that I realized that like you said after a party, I always have to go home and access the situation. For me it was watching tv or playing video games, but regardless us introverts always need something in order to “wind down”. It is a fascinating thing and extroverts just don’t get it. But I love that I now realize that I am an introvert and that is okay.

  • Jasara Norton

    I’m so glad you wrote on this topic. I learned of a similar definition of introvert a few years ago, and it also freed me to embrace myself. I laughed when I read that even emailing gets put off while you are “re-booting.” I do the same thing. I’ve been known to say things like, “No, I haven’t had a chance to read your email yet, but when I do, it will get my full attention.” What I mean to say is that, I’ve noticed true introverts are often thoughtful and give their best to every situation. Such consideration requires ample time for recharging. Great post!

  • akittyaday

    I think I’m an introvert too! Sometimes when my friends ask me out I’d tell them “Sorry, my social quota has been used up. Maybe next time.”

  • Is Everyone an Idiot but Me?

    Great post! I saw that book and thought about reading it, now I definitely will. I agree, people who are introverted are often made to feel bad about preferring to stay inside reading a book to going out and being surrounded by people for hours. It doesn’t mean we are anti-social, or shy, or depressed, or weird. It means that is our preference, that is what energizes us, that is what makes us happy. People tell me I am quiet like it is a bad thing. Or look down on my choices for a fun Friday night (relaxing and reading) – but there is nothing wrong with that!

  • Nowan Zen

    I hate gatherings. I have to find a place out of the line of chat and plan my escape route (and excuse, if needed). Even used the lame ruse of having a friend call my phone from another room so I can step outside to answer the call and have a gew moments of quiet.

  • hairballexpress

    Greetings Furless One!

    What a freeing post! I and my ( #1) human are introverts…she also was made to feel “weird” and “antisocial” all her life because she thrives and is recharged by taking quiet time and loves solitary activities best…. Reading, drawing, watercolors, sewing…. And of course, spending time with her favorite 4 legged QUIET friend (me)!

    (fur the record, all kats are introverts…..)

    (purrs and tunas to you)♥

    Shrimp

  • deep tissue massage video

    Hello! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new apple iphone!
    Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts!
    Carry on the great work!

  • Contortum Designs

    I really enjoyed this post! And I am now interested in reading the book! I like your writing style, love that you teach philosophy (and that you’re an introvert!) and I’m looking forward to reading more of your work!
    (found you via community pool)

  • Cheryl J. Lake

    I am just so amazed by the outpouring of fellow introverts when we are finally given the “approval” to be who we are. I hate to think that I was so influenced by people in general but it is obvious in business that you must appear outgoing and social to succeed. Little do they know how much I dread this chit chat and would much rather be alone with myself!
    We are not alone!
    cheryljlake.wordpress.com

  • Juana

    Hmm it seems like your blog ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I guess
    I’ll just sum it up what I had written and
    say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still
    new to the whole thing. Do you have any tips and hints for beginner blog writers?
    I’d definitely appreciate it.

    • unsolicitedtidbits

      Hello! Thank you so much for the comment. I’m a bit of a newbie myself 🙂 My only advice is to blog to reflect, entertain, and/or inform. Enjoy the process! Also, check tags that will direct you to blogs with similar interests. It helps to read and comment on others’ work. You’ll be engaged and gather ideas. Happy blogging!

  • Cruz Gangwish

    Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a
    very well written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful information.
    Thanks for the post. I will certainly comeback.

  • lisakunk

    I’m being fed right now by my state of alone-ness. Except for my animals. I’ve had a house full since my triplets came home from college for the summer. Where they are, so go their friends. A wonderful situation. But oh how I love alone time to squeeze out my full sponge that is my life and prepare to soak it all in afterwards.

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