I have always felt like a social outlier. I never understood why people saw me as aloof or “shy,” when I was crazy and exuberant at home with my family. Or why people didn’t get that I wasn’t a “party person” and would rather hang out and watch Star Wars with just one or two of my best friends. I never understood why I didn’t like big crowds, despite a love for visiting busy cities like Chicago or New York City.
It wasn’t until well after my college years — the period when all the stress and confusion about how I fit into society led to episodes of depression and anxiety — when I finally discovered what it meant to be an INTROVERT. I learned that introversion didn’t mean shy or socially inept, but rather it meant that I prefer to internalize my thoughts as a way to “recharge” after periods of socialization. It meant that I am be better at communicating through writing rather than on the spot discussion…and that I much prefer talking about topics I’m passionate about rather than participating in “small talk.”
Shortly after I learned the true definition of introversion vs. extroversion, I came across a TED talk by Susan Cain entitled, “The Power of Introverts.” Her talk introduces the concepts she thoroughly researched for her book, QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking — concepts that hit me over the head like a lightbulb, or more like a giant lighthouse:
“Oh, that makes *so* much sense! There are other people that think that way, too?! I had no idea that’s why I acted that way…”
It’s been about three years since discovering I am an introvert and since finding that TED talk. But I’ve only just started reading Cain’s book. I have read and researched a lot about introversion in the past three years, and having that knowledge base already makes reading QUIET feel like revisiting an old friend. I was hoping to finish the book before today so that I could write a reflective review, but I’m going to just savor my time reading and relating to what Susan Cain writes.
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? How does that affect the way you experience the world?