Coming Out for Introverts
Back when I was in school, I read a lot. I used to read during break time. I was teased about it but there was nothing doing. Spending half an hour sitting on a bench “alone” in my world of fiction made me happy; standing around chatting in a group did not. This is still the case today. I love to read, I hate to small talk. I leave parties early to sit in bed with a book. I just don’t have anything to say during conversations that meander all over the general subject of absolutely nothing in particular. I get bored. I feel useless and excluded. It’s not that I’m anti-social, I love talking to people, only I prefer to do so with only a few people at a time, on identified subjects, in a setting in which I can concentrate. This social orientation has a name: I’m an introvert, meaning that I prefer to focus on my inner world, and avoid excessive stimulation from without.
In this video Susan Cain, author of the new book, “Quiet”, explains her research and theory on the place of introverts in todays society, especially in business. She suggests there is a cultural bias towards extroversion, as this personality type is (wrongly) preferred for leadership, social charisma being confused with talent. She also points out that because of this bias, a generation of introverts like myself experience a secret sense of shame about their social preferences and how they like to spend their time (like sitting at home blogging on a Sunday). Introverts force themselves, at great personal expense to behave gregariously, because they know it’s necessary to succeed in their environment. I know I do everyday. Her message is that we’d do better to bet on our power as introverts, than waste our energy trying to be someone we’re not. I agree.