Susan Cain is definitely my newest hero.
Immediately after watching this 20 minute video I found on TED, I went to Amazon and purchased her book, "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking."
How perfect is that title??
I've been an introvert my entire life, and there has never been a time where I felt it was okay to be this way. Since childhood, I've been encouraged non-stop to be more outgoing, to speak up, to not be so shy, to not look so sad, to join in on more group activities, to go to more parties, etc. I was never allowed to just be. If you weren't an extrovert, then obviously there was something wrong with you.
"Doesn't participate," is something I'm sure teachers wrote on my report cards quite often growing up. This "problem" even continued on into college. A professor emailed me once to inform me that if I didn't start "participating" in class discussions, I wouldn't be passing her class, since apparently 50% of my grade was participation. Ha! Imagine that. Half of my grade in that class was to sit in a big circle and tell a room full of people my opinion about whatever it was we were discussing. (It was a Women's Studies class, so more than half the time, we were talking about food or George Clooney or something equally as pointless and we rarely opened our textbooks.)
I just couldn't make sense of that.
It would be different if it was a public speaking class and I was refusing to do my assignments, but that simply wasn't the case. I don't think I gained or learned anything from taking that class, and I was punished for being who I am on top of it.
I don't want to stray too far from my point here. I could write an entire book going over all the times I've been unfairly singled out, pointed out, punished by a superior, or made fun of by my "equals" for being too quiet, but I'll save that for another time.
While I do think I'm getting "better" at being social and talking to people the older I get, I'm still very much an introvert.
I have a blog which seems like something an extrovert would do rather than an introvert, but I've found that to be quite the opposite. I read a lot of blogs by girls who claim to be just like me, which is probably why I love my little blogging community so much. Call me dorky, but it's true!
We aren't able to express ourselves openly the way extroverts do, so we have little spaces of our own, like public diaries almost, where we share our thoughts and ideas in a more open, yet private kind of way. I can sit alone and write for hours and let my brain spew out what I'm thinking, but I can't seem to do the same in person, and I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing.
I constantly feel the need to share my life, but it's always in the soft spoken sort of way. I don't go out of my way to tell strangers all about my life in person, but I do welcome them to visit me here if they're interested to learn more about me.
Now, this isn't to say I don't enjoy one-on-one chats with people, because I certainly do! I think getting to know people is great, and sharing interests is fun, and I can definitely be goofy and outgoing when I'm around people I feel comfortable with, but I don't think I'll ever consider myself to be an extrovert, no matter how hard I feel I've tried.
Anyway, what Susan talks about in this video, is how we need to make the world more accommodating for introverts and stop punishing them for not being extroverts.
She touches on a lot of things I've wondered about and struggled with all my life, and I'm so glad I found her. Finally - someone telling me it's OKAY to be shy. What a relief! I wish I could give her a great big hug. I can't wait to read her book!
Please take 20 minutes out of your day to watch this video!
Are you more of an extrovert or an introvert?