As we move into mid-August and further out of lockdown, talk has turned to the possibility of “in-person” events this autumn. That is actually meeting in a room with others. Whilst this will be an exciting prospect for many, for those who identify as Introverts, it could be a mixed blessing. For an Introvert, meeting “in-person” means functioning in an Extrovert’s world, which can overstimulate and exhaust Introverts. To prepare for returning to the real world, I have revisited a book I first read many years ago and one that I had not come across before; both by the US writer and Introvert Susan Cain.
In Quiet, Cain explores how Western culture transformed in the late 19th century from the culture of character into the culture of personality. The culture of personality where introverts are viewed as suspicious, disappointing, even pathological. Cain outlines the advantages and disadvantages of both extroverts and introverts; and the myth and pitfalls that the ideal self is one of gregarious alpha who is comfortable in the spotlight, the “Extrovert Ideal”. She also clearly defines introversion, its distinction from other personality traits; and looks at how introverts can function in an extrovert dominated culture.
Described by some as an adaption for children, teens, their parents and educators is Cain’s follow-up book, Quiet Power. However, I found it to be more than that. Whilst I had read Quiet many years ago, Quiet Power was new to me. It offers practical advice on how to navigate the extrovert world which, though aimed at those in education, will prove just as valuable to those who have left education. There are also solutions on how to balance the introvert’s need for solitude with the extrovert world’s need that we must all socialise.
For anyone to identify as Introvert, and for all of those who would like to support Introverts, both are valuable reads: however, if you are new to reading about the Introverts and Extroverts, I would recommend staring with Quiet Power
Whilst I know there will be many who will race out the door to get to events, for others it will take some time and to all of you I share a tweet that made me smile and reassured, from the wonderful Bryony Kimmings:
I keep seeing people:
🥂Out in a club
And good for them. It’s been hideous.
But for those of you who need to hear it… I don’t feel ready either!
BUT it’s also ok to feel simultaneously insanely jealous, torn and nostalgic.
— Bryony Kimmings (@BryonyKimmings) August 21, 2021