If you are an introvert, or an extrovert who loves an introvert, it’s worth checking out Quiet: The Power of Introverts in A World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain.
I confess to some bit of philosophical and personal draw to the book rooted in my own introversion. It always seems remarkable when you find an author who is publicly sharing thoughts and ideas that you relate to. Me, too, you think. There’s a common bond and even though you know you’re not the only one who thinks that way, you now have proof. As an introvert working hard to succeed in an extroverted culture, I found that in this book.
For all 36 years of my life I have been an introvert. I was the quiet girl sitting in the back of the room taking it all in and never pushing myself on anyone else too hard. And that was fine for a while because usually there would be someone—a teacher, a coach, a supervisor—who would notice something great about me and help me push myself forward. Until one day there wasn’t.
Writing was the catalyst for coming out of my own shell more. Such an introverted way to go about it. I didn’t recognize my flaws as a part of my identity or embrace them until I was 30. More than that, I didn’t understand that some of my “flaws” weren’t actually flaws at all. It took a while to see that. But in 2008 I started writing these essays about my life experiences. My only rules were to use humor and to only write about the stuff that had deeply affected me in some way. The idea was to lightheartedly recognize and embrace my flaws. And through doing that, I shed a few layers of my introvert skin. Owning this stuff is powerful.
Now I’m all about my flaws. Like, check it out I made this mistake and I’m not perfect. I love that I can own my mistakes and instead of being ashamed of them, learn from them. This has been the greatest education I’ve had.
Before I checked the book out of the library I read Quiet’s synopsis:
This book demonstrates how introverted people are misunderstood and undervalued in modern culture … At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled "quiet," it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society…
Wow. I paused there… because that’s me.
Once I started writing back in 2008 I never stopped. I was learning so much and it really felt like I was becoming. Writing was proverbial therapy and it was power. Sometimes someone would comment and trash what I’d written. Sometimes they would distance themselves from me because of something I’d written. Those were the people who failed to understand, and they didn’t bother me.
Any kind of personal writing is supposed to be honest and raw. The point is, really, to touch someone. I’m not concerned with the people who don’t understand my experience and would rather criticize or find fault with it than try. I’m more concerned with the people who will read what I have to say and find it remarkable that there is someone else out there saying what they, themselves, wish they could; or sharing an experience they can relate to in some way. It is in sharing ourselves that we find common ground. And nothing beats finding common ground with another. No amount of criticism could deter me from trying.
Today I’m a “pretend extrovert”. And if that sounds negative, I promise it’s not. What it really means is that I own my introversion and I use it, but I also know when to ignore it and move forward into the spotlight. I found in myself an entrepreneurial spirit, a confidence, and a newfound desire to grab some of that spotlight sometimes. You could say it’s the best of both worlds.