So I’m back with another Ten-Minute Tuesday post, and I’m realizing that this blog could easily turn into nothing BUT Ten-Minute Tuesday posts if I only ever post on Tuesdays. I can’t decide if that’s good or bad, but just in case, I’ll try and post something again between now and next Tuesday.
For now, this week’s topic was inspired by a book Baltimore City Paper reviewed called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. As an introvert myself, the title immediately jumped out at me, and I read on to see what all it was about.
To be an introvert is to forever be at war with a larger, louder world. Battle fronts are legion: bus shelters, restaurants, grocery stores, board rooms, bathrooms, the living rooms of strangers, even libraries. The armor introversion demands—headphones, paperbacks, concentration, sunken, nearly uterine postures—often isn’t enough to keep the joviality, backslapping, and small talk of full-bore extroverts at bay. And a shy, retiring, or subdued persona is kryptonite in any milieu where success or status means possessing an engaging or outgoing personality. Conventional wisdom doesn’t help matters. Concerned, well-meaning co-workers will ask why you sit alone in the lunchroom or skip team happy hours and holiday parties. Why are you always lost in a book? Why don’t you talk about your day? Why don’t you even aspire to be the life of the party? It’s a condition author Susan Cain, an avowed introvert, describes thus: “Introversion—along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness—is now a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology.”
So I have to throw a question or four out there to my fellow introverts– Do you believe this paints an accurate portrait of your life? Do you feel like you’re viewed as less-than-capable as your more outgoing counterparts, whether in the workplace or in your personal life? Are you constantly overlooked or disregarded because you’re not as quick to voice your thoughts about something? If so, does this ever have a negative effect on you?
Personally, I’ve felt a number of ways about my natural tendency to keep to myself. I’ve certainly been self-conscious in situations where everyone else is just having more fun than I am. I’ve wondered, What am I doing wrong? Do I have bitchface on and not even know it?
Most of the time, though, I’m perfectly comfortable not being a social butterfly. It doesn’t mean I’m incapable of meeting new people and enjoying their company. It doesn’t mean I don’t do a damn good job at my work. There are a lot of strengths in introversion, just as there are in extroversion, and I don’t think one quality is better than the other. Introversion doesn’t equal a lack of confidence, and I think that’s what Susan Cain is going for with her book, though I’ll have to read it for myself to know for sure.
One City Paper commenter wrote on the post that shyness and quietness don’t equal introversion, as the review/book seemed to imply, and that she knew plenty of loud, opinionated introverts. I guess I can see how that’s possible, though I in no way fall into that category. Another commenter wrote, “Oh boy, yet another group of victims that the rest of us have to accommodate.” For the record: we introverts are not “victims.” How is that implied? I don’t pity myself, nor would I ever want anyone else to pity me. And for what– preferring to stay in on a Friday night? Introversion isn’t a handicap. Shut up, listen, and you’ll see.
More than ten minutes again. Gonna have to work on that.