I’ve finally finished Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. The light bulb of recognition continues to click on as I become more and more aware of why I do what I do. Why I think the way I think. Yes, I am an introvert. The signs are all there. And, with this recognition, is a deep sense of freedom.
I always knew that I leaned toward introversion. As a child, I loved rain and snow storms. This meant that I could curl up with a book without the guilt of a sunny day beckoning me outdoors. Books still follow me everywhere I go; in the car, at the lake, on air travels. (I love you, iPad!)
I was never painfully shy, but I shied away from large social gatherings and events. I still do. I prefer an intimate evening with good food, good wine, good conversation and good friends.
I was always blessed with friends, but I valued quality over quantity. My nearest and dearest friends have been in my life for almost thirty years and more. Time flies when we chat over numerous cups of tea, drinks, or an over-heated telephone receiver. Sometimes all three!
Many of the women and men, who have been my mentors and models, are introverts also. At meetings, they don’t have the loudest voice at the table. The loudest voices usually monopolize the conversation, whether or not they have something of substance to share. My mentors are the ones who can sit quietly during the maelstrom of cacophonous voices.
But they are not merely sitting. They are pondering. And when they speak, everyone listens. They listen because they know that this person’s voice will carry substance. These women and men model strong leadership for me. They allow all voices to be heard before gently nudging from the side-lines. They don’t have to be front and center to be a moving force in a group.
I may be introverted, but I’m not afraid to give a talk or a presentation. But, I feel more comfortable reading a prepared speech. I will spend hours writing and editing obsessively. But, if I am happy with the end result, it increases my confidence. I have sat on panel presentations where I was the only one with a prepared talk, but this no longer worries me. Apparently, this is a common public speaking strategy for introverts.
I finished my university studies later in life. As a young student in a traditional lecture hall, I never raised my hand or contributed to a class discussion. With the introduction of online classes and asynchronous conversations, I had found my element. I love the thinking process. For me, writing is an extension of this process. Online discussion boards allow me the luxury of time to think and write carefully. The other advantage is that I don’t have to sit and squirm through long-winded diatribes from the class extrovert. I can simply scroll down through their densely worded paragraphs!
It is no surprise that many writers are introverts. Blogging is a great forum for us. It allows our voices to be heard, and to nudge a dialogue with others. If an online discussion gets over-heated, we can easily leave it to those who enjoy the energy of an aggressive debate. I don’t.
Did I mention that I’m an introvert?