There has been a lot of talk lately about introverts, thanks to the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, and her subsequent TED talk. I am so excited to read this book. I am an introvert. How nice to say that. People don’t always like being labeled, but sometimes it’s a relief. I am an introvert, which means I am not alone and there is nothing wrong with me.
An introvert is someone who draws their energy from being alone, as opposed to an extrovert, who draws energy from being around other people. We are the “man of thought,” as opposed to the “man of action.” We like to cultivate a rich “inner” life and avoid over-stimulation. We are the bookworms, the tech-tinkerers, and the dreamers. Like most introverts, I would rather spend a Friday night at home reading than go to a party.
Depending on who you ask, introversion may be related to high reactivity, high sensitivity, and shyness (I will refrain from delving further into the psychological and sociological technicalities here). But it is important to remember that introversion does not necessarily equate to shyness. I am also shy, which basically means that I fear social judgement. I find it very difficult to talk to anyone I don’t know. My sister, however, is an introvert and yet will talk to anyone about anything. Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice is an introvert, but I hardly think we would dare call him “shy” (his sister is another matter).
Quiet will take me awhile to read, so I will be posting about it periodically as I go through it; I’m about a third of the way done right now. I would recommend for everyone to read this book. As an introvert, I’m finding out so much more about myself, and the choices that I can make in interacting with the world. For an extrovert, I would hope it would lead to a greater appreciation for us quiet ones, and a better idea of how to interact with us.
If you would like to find out more about where you fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum, take the Myers-Briggs personality test. There is a quick quiz at the bottom of this NPR article that you can also try: http://www.npr.org/2012/01/30/145930229/quiet-please-unleashing-the-power-of-introverts