I Wish Someone Had Told Me… It’s Ok to be an Introvert

The following book changed my life. My entire perspective of the world changed. People look different, social pressure is understood and being yourself is acceptable. It’s a must-read for any introvert.

I wish I had read this book years ago!
I wish I had read it before taking education courses and I wish I had read it before being a teacher.
I wish I had read it before joining the workforce and I wish all employers had read it.

Susan Cain has written an incredible book called, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, and it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read!

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

The book starts out by explaining how the extroverted personality became the social norm. As expected – money drove the change. With the help of Sears, J.C. Penny’s and Ford, people with a salesman personality ultimately became successful. Those who are successful are studied and watched. Eventually, others replicate their traits in hopes of gaining the same success. Advertising followed suit and shifted gears from selling products to selling people on successful personality types.

Interestingly enough society began to become focused on celebrities and interested in specific personalities. The average joe was dull. The flashy, popular extrovert was famous! Don’t you want to be rich and famous? Well, be loud! Raise your hand in class, participate in all events and never miss hanging out with your friends. Spend hours on end being social and out of the house. Talk a lot and think very little. Say what comes to your mind and be extroverted! Sell, charm and be outgoing.

However, Cain points out that for some, extroversion can literally be in their DNA! The theory is that the early explorers were more extroverted. They wanted to go out and see the world. And since a majority of Americans today descend from immigrants – it makes sense that extroversion is the more popular personality trait.

But what about the ones of us who haven’t inherited much of the genetic extroversion? What about the ones of us who maybe have a sprinkle of extroversion-ness but we have to try really hard??

Well, not all hope is lost. Take a second and do the following.
Picture a world without introverts. Close your eyes and think of the ones you know. The inventors, thinkers and the creators that come to mind.

Got it?

Did you come up with JK Rowling, Steve Wozniak (creator of the Apple computer), Sir Isaac Newton, Einstein, Warren Buffet or Barack Obama? All of these great minds are incredibly successful introverts! You’ve heard of these introverts because they played the parts of extroverts to get ahead or they partnered with an extrovert. (Wozniak and Jobs)

Side note: This reminds me of the fact and advice that you don’t need to be good at everything. Play to your strengths rather than focusing on improving your weaknesses. (Of course, it’s good to improve but maybe we’ve been focused on the wrong part of our journey this whole time.) An incredibly awesome part about today’s world is that we can be connected to our extroverted friends without leaving our home. (But God when they ask me to leave – it better be damn worth it.) If you’re introverted – it may be a better use of your time and energy to find someone who likes to make phone calls, talk to humans and go out and socialize. You be the mind in your workshop and feed the mouth your brilliant ideas.

This book kinda made me feel icky with myself. Looking back on my teaching days, I don’t like how I treated some of the quieter students. I never forced anyone to speak out or come to the board. I wouldn’t call on kids who were shy if they weren’t raising their hands. (I hated when that happened to me and I wasn’t a complete dick.) But I did make groups and I did shake the groups up. I made seating charts and sometimes I caught myself teaching to the extroverts. The introverts tend to get lost in the sauce. These students were hard workers and thinkers but I feel poorly that I bought into this “only extroverts succeed” mindset.

Maybe it’s just getting older but reading this book helped me realize, I can say no to going out. I can say no to being social. I can take time for myself to replenish. And I can do this all without guilt! Before reading this book I felt like, I HAVE to go out, I HAVE to go be social, I HAVE to laugh and want to be around humans. Wanting to sit on the couch and read a book or meditate is considered odd on a Friday night. I believed for a long time that, I’d never get ahead if I’m not networking, volunteering for everything or being outspoken at work.

This book gave me immense security in knowing that I will be successful by being true to myself. Introverts can make it. Introverts become household names too. Just imagine if we catered to the thinkers as much as we do the talkers? What if we let the thinkers think and create and imagine… We let them run wild with ideas and then partnered them up with an extrovert to sell the product…? We would then be catering to the strengths of both introverts and extroverts. We would be using our resources more wisely, we would be staying true to ourselves and we would all be succeeding.

Okay, I’ve said too many words. I’ve reached my introvert word quota for the day. Just go read it! Peace out!

(P.S. Are you interested to know what your personality type it? Take the quiz listed over here!)

Future me at my first introverts only book signing… where no one shows up 😉