This has nothing really to do with books or films (yet in some ways it does) but I’m posting it anyway…
Today I came across a TedTalks with Susan Cain from back in 2012 and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t found it earlier. Her book, Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking, has been in my Amazon basket for a while now, and watching this TedTalks just made me want to read it more.
If you, like me, are an introvert or perhaps share qualities with those of introverts, you’ll have probably been judged for it growing up, or forced yourself to pretend that you were an extrovert. It seems we have always been told it is better to be the latter, it is better to be talkative and loud…even if what you are saying is not of any substance. It is better to be at a party than at home reading a book, even if every bone in your body is telling you to go home and recharge, tie your hair up and take your makeup off.
We are told you only succeed if you are extroverted, but so many talented, famous and successful people have been introverted in one way or another. Like Bill Gates or Audrey Hepburn, both practically icons, both claimed to be introverted or preferred to be alone, “I’m an introvert … I love being by myself, love being outdoors, love taking a long walk with my dogs and looking at the trees, flowers, the sky.” So why do people still try and force us to be extroverts?
Telling someone not to be so introverted or ‘shy’ (which is kind of a diffrent thing,) is like telling someone to not be exactly who they are. It’s like telling the lion not to hunt, the fish not to swim. Being introvert in a world of extroverts (and introverts pretending to be extroverts) is no easy feat. It gets tiring. I would know.
So much of what Susan Cain said resonated with me. If only I had known about this book a few years ago when it came out, it would have been like finding treasure at the time. There is nothing better than reading something that describes exactly the way you feel or describes exactly the way you are. It lets you know you are not alone. It lets you know that it is okay to be who you are, in fact it is more than okay, for the best thing you can be is yourself.
As someone who has been constantly asked the dreaded question, “why are you so quiet?” throughout my life, or the painful attempts at small talk I make when really I’d much rather be talking about what you believe in or what your passionate about, I’ve realized over the years that with these ‘flaws’ come great qualities. I am sometimes quiet because I like to listen. I am sometimes quiet because sometimes I have nothing to say. I am sometimes quiet because I am thinking. I am sometimes quiet because it’s amazing what people will tell you if you let them talk. And sure, I may not have enough friends to fill a room at a party, but the friends I do have are practically soul mates that I am so grateful to have. I don’t need a room full of extroverted friends who are all just waiting for their turn to talk.
So I am going to celebrate being introvert today. I wanted to share some of my favorite quotes from Susan Cain which I felt explained perfectly what being an introvert means and some of the qualities we share that make being introverted far from a bad thing to be.
I hope you find some comfort or solace in these quotes like I did, maybe one day I’ll need to look back on them.
“Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.”
“…they feel exceptionally strong emotions–sometimes acute bouts of joy, but also sorrow, melancholy, and fear. Highly sensitive people also process information about their environments–both physical and emotional–unusually deeply. They tend to notice subtleties that others miss–another person’s shift in mood, say, or a light bulb burning a touch too brightly.”
“…I also believe that introversion is my greatest strength. I have such a strong inner life that I’m never bored and only occasionally lonely. No matter what mayhem is happening around me, I know I can always turn inward.”
“Introverts living under the Extroversion Ideal are like women in a man’s world, discounted because of a trait that goes to the core of who they are. Extroversion is an enormously appealing personality style, but we’ve turned it into an oppressive standard to which most of us feel we must conform”
“The purpose of school should be to prepare kids for the rest of their lives, but too often what kids need to be prepared for is surviving the school day itself.”
“You once said to would like to sit beside me while I write. Listen in that case I could not write at all. For writing means revealing one self to excess; that utmost of self-revelation and surrender, in which a human being, when involved with others, would feel he was losing himself, and from which, therefore, he will always shrink as long as he is in his right mind…That is why one can never be alone enough when one writes, why there can never be enough silence around one when one writes, why even night is not night enough.”
And finally, probably one most of us on here can relate to- “The same person who would never raise his hand in a lecture hall of two hundred people might blog to two thousand, or two million, without thinking twice. The same person who finds it difficult to introduce himself to strangers might establish a presence online and then extend these relationships into the real world.”
Tweet me– we can be alone, together.
Oh and you can buy Susans book here!