QUIET please!…I’ve just read a book written by Susan Cain that has been on The New York Times bestseller list for months called QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.

QUIET_Susan_Cain

An introvert walks into a bar.

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What’ll it be, buddy?” asks the bartender.

“Pitcher of beer. To go.”

Yup, that’s me! Sorta.

We all cache a bit of ourselves away in some sort of closet. Some of us are quietly gay, some take pleasure in secretly collecting porcelain dolls, others dress up and play Medieval Knights on weekends, there are those who write porn novels under a pseudonym (hmmm…now there’s an idea!). We all have something in our personal world that we would prefer that most others not know, don’t we?

I used to think being dubbed an introvert was somehow akin to being labelled “pervert”, or “faggot”, or “poopy pants”…or worse still…”Weird Al Yankovic”, or “Pee Wee Herman”…you know, an insult (my sincerest apologies if you love Weird Al or Pee Wee!).

So here I am now dropping my pants in front of you and coming out of the closet. In flagrante delicto, so to speak.  Take a good look.

I AM AN INTROVERT!

The very fact that I’m reading this book and also write a blog probably nails me as one, although not ALL readers and/or writers are introverts. I think it’s fairly obvious that no one is 100% introverted or 100% extroverted, although in most cases a person tends to gravitate to one side more than the other. Would you peg Tom Hanks, Johnny Depp or Julia Roberts, Lady Gaga as introverts? They are.

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Two Hollywood Introverts…”you speak first”…”no, YOU speak first”…

When I was younger, I used to think that preferring solitude was weird. I don’t feel as odd anymore (at least not because I’m an introvert…there are SO MANY other reasons why I could be considered odd!) but I’m still not as cozy with being an introvert as a set of cashmere pyjamas.

Introverted yes, but I’m not shy. I prefer to spend time alone or in small groups of, oh, let’s say 4 or less. I can happily approach people and engage in a limited amount of small talk. But put me in a setting of 20 people and I clam up, unless I’m supposed to be giving a toast or a speech. And I can do that, even as an introvert. This is because I’m what I like to call a “Pretend-Extrovert”. I can turn on an extroverted side when the occasion demands it. (Esoteric Aside: On the Myers-Briggs Personality Test I come out as an “INFP”)

I even ENJOY public speaking, so long as I’m prepared. Just don’t expect me to jump up and down with super-charged energy afterwards. I’ll likely return home and curl up in the fetal position … oops, I mean, be by myself for the next day or so, recharging my batteries.

You know what my most hated word is? Network…as in, stand around in a group of strangers, Networking…making small talk in the hopes that some pint-sized piece of common ground will be discovered to raise my personal or business profile…ewww…SHOOT me now!

Some hallmarks of an Introvert:

  • Enjoy time alone
  • Consider only deep relationships as friends
  • Feel drained after outside activities, even if they were fun
  • Are often good listeners
  • Appear calm and self-contained
  • Think then speak or act
Introversion_Graphic
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Western society is highly extroversion-oriented. The world today is designed for the power of the extrovert. Extroverts therefore dominate public life. In fact, the outgoing and likeable extrovert has become our cultural ideal. In our current business culture the two best predictors of corporate ladder-climbing success are verbal fluency and sociability. The deck is stacked against the quiet and more reserved, even though they often make very successful CEO’s.

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Without introverts, the world would be deprived of: the theory of gravity, the theory of relativity, Chopin’s nocturnes, Peter Pan, Orwell’s ‘1984’ and ‘Animal Farm’, The Cat in the Hat, Charlie Brown, ‘Schindler’s List,’ ‘E.T.,’ and ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’, Google, and Harry Potter.

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Writing is something you do alone. It’s a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don’t want to make eye contact while doing it.”

John Green

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It’s interesting, but I feel strange talking about my leanings towards introversion. I’ve spent a lot of my life filled with a nagging disquiet about my need to spend time alone. I’m less Bill Clinton and more Woody Allen- of course I’m referring here to personality issues, not playing with interns or step-children! Would Todd Akin consider me a “Legitimate Introvert”?

If, like me, you’re the type of person who needs “down time” after a busy work day or social outing; if you enjoy a party but half way through the evening start wishing you were home in your pajamas, then you probably belong in my merry band of introverts. We won’t form a support group though, OK (no one would show up!)?

And, if you are a natural extrovert, I enjoy being with you and admire your abilities and strengths. I, as an outsider, contemplate you and marvel at how you function so happily and smoothly with tons of social energy.

I’ll leave you with two questions that I – and apparently most researchers –  haven’t come to any firm conclusions about just yet:

  • Are more men or more women introverts and is there truly a difference between the genders? 
  • Have the internet and texting/messaging changed the introversion vs extroversion equation…versus face-to-face communication? Are we becoming a more introverted society because of Blackberrys and iPhones? 

 

STAYING In Tonight

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