Title: QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
Author: Susan Cain
I am an introvert, or more accurately as I have recently discovered, an ambivert. I can fake it like an extrovert, but long before all the excitement of socialising and the exuberance of any highly stimulating environment wears off, I am quietly seeking a corner to recharge.
Reading Susan Cain’s book was an eye-opener. It explained a lot about my own personality, and gave me more insight into my children’s personalities. I am raising both an ambivert and a highly extroverted-introvert – my own term here because my son does not seem to fit into any of the moulds described. It was also the kind of book that I would normally not have read had the subject matter not been close to my heart.
The author is herself a self-professed introvert, who defied all the introverted stereotypes by firstly attending Harvard Law School – described as the most unsuitable place for introverts – and by further going on to become a Wall Street lawyer – a haven for all extroverts. Cain’s‘s book is extensively researched, as she cites from various sources the numerous studies that detail personality types. Perhaps too much, there were sections that I skimmed entirely as they were too heavy on the research and the citations and less informative about the personality types themselves. I found that she also goes into a great length of detail about introverts and extroverts – but less so about that personality type falling in the middle of these.
There were many moments in the book though when I chuckled when realising that some of the scenarios about anxieties that arise when socialising, as relates to introverts, were spot on. I don’t necessarily cower in the face of social events, but I do require some encouragement getting out there. Often given a choice between huge social events and staying at home – I will choose the latter.
Which makes my life as an expat very difficult because with friends and acquaintances coming and going in one’s life – the onus is often on me to ‘put myself out there’ and make friends. This can be both terrifying and exhausting all at once.
Cain’s views suggest that introverts are by nature highly sensitive and more empathic than your average extrovert. She gives examples of creators, writers, and leaders who were known introverts and criticises the world in the many ways it extols the extrovert ideal. She makes some interesting points about raising introverted children, mainly in not pushing them towards becoming what they are by nature not. It made me feel guilty about the number of times I have pushed my introverted daughter to ‘make more friends’ at school, and to ‘not be afraid to speak up’ – even though she carries with her a quiet confidence that yields the same results , but in her own way.
I recommend Cain’s book, if you are the kind of person who has always thought themselves a bit strange for not wanting to be the centre of attention, or for wanting to turn down a party invitation for some quiet time at home, or for always wanting to host a small dinner of no more than eight people, as opposed to a house full of people. It’s perfectly alright to do this, you are not alone.