Read "Quiet."

Hi, all! If you’re looking for ways to broaden your mental horizons while socially distancing this spring, here’s a real gem. I bought this book when I read about it on one of my favorite blogs, Mr. Money Mustache. Quiet, by Susan Cain, is an exploration into the world of introversion.

“Oh, yeah,” you might be saying to yourself. “Introversion. I know all about that from internet memes.” While some of those dang funny memes at least hint at the truth–introverts call a large group of people a “Nope,” or “Sorry I’m late; I didn’t want to come,” there’s a whole cerebral universe of introversion that it may do you a lot of good to learn about.

“Why?” you might ask. Because this is a blog about writing, by a writer, and if you’re at all interested in the things I write about, then it’s highly likely you are, yourself, an introvert. There are ambiverts out there, who fall into the middle of the spectrum, and maybe you’re one of them, but I’d bet that most writers are introverts.

I used to think I was extroverted. I can be gregarious, after all. When I was younger, I thought of myself as incredibly social! Then, I thought that maybe I was ambiverted … I took a few personality tests for fun, in college. (You could probably get away with ending almost any sentence at all with “… for fun, in college.” Try it.) Those tests basically showed I was comfortable in both social and quiet settings. But as I age … or, more importantly, as I focus more seriously on my writing, I have to admit to myself that I am pretty firmly in the introvert camp. Not that there’s a camp for introverts. We’d have to all hang out in separate tents and text each other campfire stories. Hehehe …

Actually, introverts can and do enjoy the company of others. It’s not that introvert=severe social anxiety, it’s that introverts are deeply fueled during their alone time. Here’s how I was clued into my own introversion:

Photo by Elena Koycheva on Unsplash

Reading “Quiet” is giving me more than insight into my own nature, though; Susan Cain follows America’s path from valuing the cult of character to today’s obsession with the cult of personality. Whomsoever yells the loudest must be right! But so very often, those who quietly go back to their garages and little desks tucked into the corner of their bedrooms are the ones who solve the big problems and invent things that fuel social revolutions. Oh, charismatic personalities have their place, to be sure. But, as a society, we don’t value the quiet ones nearly enough. It’s quite telling that one of the biggest concerns well-meaning people have about homeschoolers is, “But … how will they socialize?” Really?

Crowd-think isn’t nearly as productive as executive types want it to be. Brainstorming sessions have been proven to be much less useful than asking folks to come up with ideas quietly, by themselves, and then pool them together later. Time and time again it’s shown that louder voices overtake quieter ones, who might be right.

And, sometimes, that can be very dangerous.

Lift up your cups of tea in quiet solute, O introverts! Your work is just as important–maybe more so–than that of the louder ones. Keep on keepin’ on. In the soothing privacy of your own home.

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