Ten-Minute Tuesdays: what introverts say

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.


Reviewer Raymond Cummings paints a quick portrait of the kind of experiences an introvert might have on any given day:

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.

 

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Comments

  1. Great post! I find myself to be a steady medium between introvert and extrovert. I’m right in the middle. In a lot of scenarios, I enjoy meeting new people and expanding, but I also have a side of me that likes to curl up with a book and a cup of tea and be left alone while people are out drinking on a Saturday night.

    Introverts are not victims and do not need to be accommodated for, because being an introvert is NOT a disability. What a foolish thing that person said. I agree with a few of the things the author said, particularly about being at war with a louder, larger world, but I don’t think that’s necessarily introvert specific. In most cases, a quiet opinion and even silence, can speak much louder than all of the bustle.

    Interesting perspectives! I hope you find time to write more than once a week, I enjoy your blog!

    • You’re right, those things are not introvert-specific, and I think there are probably a lot of people that would probably disagree with the author. There are many ways to interpret introversion, as well, not to mention levels of it, like you mentioned. Example: I went to an event last night and was a total wallflower until I reached for food at the same time as someone else. I spent half an hour talking to them and four other people they introduced me to. And I enjoyed it!

  2. I think I suffer from a different sort of introversion.

    I have been told since high school that my look, my face, the way I dress, even my posture is rather intimidating. I’m a tall girl, about 6′- and I have dark hair and dark eyes. And I guess my naturally relaxed face looks intimidating or bitchy. So in general, I’m not approached much.
    On top of the way I look, I’m also comfortable in my skin, so I guess I tend to carry myself with a bit of confidence or grace. I don’t seek validation from others, I instead own myself and go about my business.
    There are days when I’m feeling outgoing, and when I decide to engage, I have a lot of success. But otherwise, I very much like the fact that people will leave me alone unless I invite them in. do you think having a naturally ‘intimidating’ demeanor is a sort of introversion?

    xo
    <3 J

    • Like I said in my reply to Carley just now, absolutely– I think there are many forms of introversion, and what you describe could definitely be one of them. I’m not physically intimidating in terms of height or anything like that, but I’ve been told by people who later became friends that they thought I looked like a bitch when they first met me. Well, they didn’t use the word “bitch,” but it was implied. So thanks, y’all. But yes, I think the way we carry ourselves is very revealing. Body language is… 90% of our communication? Somethin’.

    • Love what you’ve said here Jorah! In college, I suffered from “chronic iPod disorder.” I would always walk to class with my iPod on, and people always mistook me for rude or antisocial! In reality, I was just jamming.

  3. I’ve always been an introvert, but have always found myself quite capable in most social situations when push comes to shove. And being an introvert doesn’t seem to have any effect on my job performance, although I will admit that I really procrastinate with making phone calls, which I think is my introvert bubbling up to the surface. I hate that people seem to think introverts are incapable of living a normal life. So not true! It’s not that we don’t like social situations, we just don’t need social situations as frequently as extroverts!

  4. So true. Sometimes the world is intimidating in the eyes of an introvert. There’s so much human interaction basically everywhere. But I remedy that with Friday nights alone with a glass of wine and a good book. Society often says there something wrong with this, but I’m perfectly okay with it.

    P.S. Thanks for stopping by to visit. So excited that you did!

    • Yes! Some of my very extroverted friends call me “boring” when I choose to spend a day by myself, relaxing and catching up on some me-time, or turning down an invite to go out on a Friday night. It’s not like introverts turn down every chance to interact with other human beings or avoid all parties/gatherings. It’s just that sometimes we would like to spend some time with our own thoughts.

  5. It makes me sad to hear how people perceive introverts, especially because I’m quite sure that most people are introvert and it’s seems like that’s deviating from some kind of ideal that we have today….It’s just putting pressure on more people to do things that are completely contradictory to their natures. No wonder that this decade represents a peak of identity conflicts .

  6. I’m an introvert too. Close to the middle of the spectrum but more on the introverted side. I wonder if bloggers on the whole tend to be on the introverted side.
    Maria said it very well- “If I don’t get downtime, I get agitated.” YES.

    The word on its own has a negative connotation, but if people were more informed as to what it actually means, I think that would disappear! I had a conversation with my father, who I have no doubt in my mind is introverted, about personality types and he got really offended when I implied he was an introvert. Even when I told him I was too! The only thing I can think of that is harder for introverts is networking – if I was an extrovert, would it be fun instead of a huge chore? Also, situations where it is hard to get away from people- sleep-away camp, the army I imagine. But no way is it a handicap or reason for pity!

    • cassie says:

      Interesting that your dad took it that way! That’s pretty telling.

      Sleep-away camp– GAH! I was never interested in it for that reason. I mean, I was interested, but mostly terrified at the prospect. Go away for four weeks to potentially make NO friends and feel like a loser? Nope, I wasn’t having it.

  7. I think some of those responders to the City Paper should actually *read* the book before commenting, or at least read some interviews or listen to some talks by Susan Cain. She doesn’t say that shyness and quietness = introversion…it’s not that simple. she actually explains quite well what it means to be an introvert! And the comment about being victims, that is just ridiculous! Where did the person get that idea from?

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