Sunday, May 7, 2017

On Quiet: the power of Introverts in a world that can't stop talking [book review]

Introvert.

For a long time, I thought that it was a bad word. At first, I hated the word when other people used it to describe me, because I don't care much about labels and the common or damaging stereotypes attached to them - but they say that I was. I'm too quiet, they say. You need to get out of your shell, they say.

When there are many people, I get tired easily and I always slip away to places where I can be alone. I like reading more than talking. I don't understand why people have to say that I am quiet, that I would eventually 'get out of my shell' (I should say, I HATE that expression, and if someone says that I just sigh or roll my eyes), and that I should change.

After studying psychology, I learned that there were different personality types. There were the outgoing people who derive their energy from socializing with others, while there are people who are drained from too much company. I learned that there was nothing wrong with me, even if most extroverted people say there's something wrong with me. As for me, I hate labels. I can act extroverted if the situation calls for it. I'm okay!

When I was in college, we were always few in our classes, so it gave me the confidence to speak up. I find that if I studied a topic well enough, I'd enjoy speaking and talking about it in the classroom. In library science, I enjoy reference work and answering questions. I love investigating and trying to find out what the user really wants to look for.

I remember once, a well-meaning person criticized me for being an introvert as if it was a bad word! I hated that person immediately, because he was implying that 'he was like me' but that 'he improved'. I absolutely dislike it when people assume things about me, because he doesn't even see me on a regular basis to know anything about my life! He doesn't see me speak well in class, have fun with my few friends, and just do my own thing without bothering anyone. For me, there is no pure extroverted or introverted person. We are all a mix of both qualities. But in the end, he was just trying to piss me off to feed his own ego, and I realized he didn't even really know anything with sense about psychology or personality to say these things.

Sadly, this is a reality: introvert discrimination. Some gifted introverts are shut down at an early age because the world expects extroversion. Some think that they are inherently bad or unsatisfactory, and forget their real selves and pretend to be someone else. As for me, the need to be alone is the same basic need as food, water, air, and books.

I am grateful for this book, Quiet: the power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain. It was a bestseller and sparked discussion about personality psychology. She says that the world needs both introverts and extroverts, and for people and groups to work well, there should be a balance. It doesn't glorify introversion or thinks it is better than extroversion. The author highlights the good and useful qualities of introverts. It also tries to answer these questions: how do we become either introverted or extroverted? Is it genetic? Is it something learned?

The best thing about this book is the parts for parents of introverted children. There were a few case studies of extroverted parents trying to 'treat' their introverted children, and sometimes things get worse instead of better for the kid. Parents should nurture and develop the strengths of their introverted children, and encourage them to be themselves while growing up and help guide them in the world of extroverts and introverts.

I recommend this book to fellow introverts, and even if you're an extrovert, you can also learn a lot about yourself from this book. Susan Cain presents research and case studies in a manner that makes it an enjoyable read. She interviewed and spent time with both introverts and extroverts, whether famous or ordinary.

A wonderful book which makes us celebrate each other's uniqueness. Don't let anyone look down on you or define you, we all have different characters and unique strengths.

"There is no such thing as a pure extrovert or a pure introvert. Such a man would be in the lunatic asylum," Carl Jung once said (he's the man who made these terms famous. A known psychologist, Jung was introverted himself.)

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