Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Extroverts Are People, Too

One of the books I’m reading is Susan Cain's Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

This book has given me back a sense of self, and I’m not just saying that. I was feeling kind of down about my introversion, until I started to read Cain’s book and began to accept that there is nothing wrong with me because I don’t like parties, tend to shun the spotlight, and sometimes need a moment or two to gather my thoughts.

As Cain points out, the world is very much geared toward extroverts, with introversion being viewed as a deficiency of sorts. She writes:

“Introversion—along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness—is a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology.” 

Lol. Love that!

In the workplace especially, we’re told that talkative, personable types who like to be in the limelight make better employees, and introspective, quiet folks like myself need to “come out of our shells.” 

OMGoodness. Please leave me alone, already!

A lifetime of these messages, and I was starting to believe this crap (even though I knew darn well I make a great employee) until I began reading Cain’s book.

Thomas, my eight-year-old, is a serious introvert whose style of relating I’ve had to defend to both school administrators and teachers as well as to his oldest brother and father, who are unrepentant extroverts. 

Thomas will be just as happy as can be sitting at his desk drawing a picture or playing a video game, and here comes Christian (big brother), wanting to know “What have you been doing all day? Don’t you want to come with me to your Auntie's and play with your little cousins?” 

If Thomas says “No,” which he most likely will, he’ll get badgered for not being sociable, and if I say, “Christian leave the boy alone,” I’ll get badgered for being a bad parent. 

Thomas does need to extend himself sometimes (as do I), but not all the time. Generally speaking, introverts are simply more content engaging in quiet pursuits in familiar surroundings. Leave us be already.

According to Cain, research indicates that introverts are less likely to commit adultery, more likely to learn from mistakes, less likely to place big bets, more likely to delay gratification, and more likely to ask “what if?”

So, I was reading Cain’s book and beginning to feel somewhat superior to all the hardheaded, shallow, reckless, financially unstable extroverts suffering in their broken relationships, but then I reminded myself that hey, extroverts are people too. And, cliché though it be, some of my best friends are extroverts! The world truly needs both.

Extroverts, be kind. If we introverts want to leave the party early to put on our pajamas and go to bed, don’t hate. We’ll catch you later, promise.

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