At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams. It is to introverts—Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak—that we owe many of the great contributions to society.
In Quiet, Susan Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so. She charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture. She also introduces us to successful introverts—from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Passionately argued, superbly researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves.
So stay true to your own nature. If you like to do things in a slow and steady way, don’t let others make you feel as if you have to race. If you enjoy depth, don’t force yourself to seek breadth. If you prefer single-tasking to multitasking, stick to your guns. Being relatively unmoved by rewards gives you the incalculable power to go your own way. It’s up to you to use that independence to good effect.
I have a lot to say about this book, but I’ll try to make it as brief as I can for sanity’s sake. This book covers topics ranging from Tony Robbins (“motivational” speaker) to the amygdala (a part of the brain). Cain included different cultures and their views on American culture. There are examples of different relationship dynamics—familial and otherwise. This isn’t a stab at extroverts or any other type of personality. There’s not even one type on introvert! I consider myself an introvert, but I didn’t fit in with every category she listed off.
Whether you’re an extrovert or introvert, each side has its struggles. Friends, family, and my boyfriend have gotten mad at me for not wanting to socialize, canceling plans, wanting to go home after I do go out. It’s not that I’m lazy and don’t want to do those things. Some people don’t understand if they don’t face those same issues. BUT there is a balancing act that needs to happen within a relationship. There needs to be some give and take. Just respect each other and help each other grow to be the best they can be.
Cain also discusses a few different theories:
- Situationism: This just means that people change because of situations they experience rather than the traits they possess.
- Free Trait Theory: As humans we will act out of character sometimes in order to be ourselves the rest of the time.
Of course, I immediately Googled both of those when they were being discussed in the book. Psychology and philosophy are two of my favorite subjects to learn about. I took a college philosophy class in high school and immediately fell in love. This book was heaven for me from start to finish.
There are so many well-known figures that she mentions including Rosa Parks, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, Tony Robbins, Dr. Seuss, and many others. I loved that she was able to relate the topic to people we may have looked up to and who we thought were always comfortable being social human beings. She also includes experiences she has put herself into. She has gotten into some weird situations.
I think my favorite part of the whole book was the end. She includes a section about children. I wasn’t really expecting that, but now that I work at a library, I see and hear a lot of the situations she brings up in the novel. A lot of people don’t see children as human beings with emotions. Parents often see their quiet child as having some sort of problem that needs fixed. Obviously, it is scary to see your child be an introvert. I’m not a parent, but I could see how that might cause for concern. That’s why communication and support are key. Sometimes, like she explains in the book, they just need something in their life that they love—hobbies, sports, a different school, etc. They don’t always need a therapist or medicine. Respect your kids. Don’t act like they don’t know anything. Don’t treat them like dogs. Love and support them as much as you can.
Introversion is not a problem. It shouldn’t be considered a bad personality type. They are human just like everyone else. Their brain doesn’t necessarily go through the same processes, but they still get to the same answer. It’s okay to be introverted, extroverted, and everything in between.
I would highly recommend you pick this up if you’re looking for good nonfiction. Obviously, just like any book, it probably won’t work for everyone. I think you should at least give it a try. It’ll definitely stick with me.
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