I am perhaps the most introverted person that I know. Someone once even called me “almost dead,” but in fact I am only quiet, quiet in a way that not everyone understands.
Society favors the active, the loud, the confident, the extroverted. In the classrooms, in the office, at social events, it’s the extroverts that tend to be the soul of everything. Even today, when technology enables us to function and even be productive outside of an office setting, it’s still the extroverts that usually get to the top. But that’s okay. We don’t need to get to the top to live a good and useful life.
“The highly sensitive [introverted] tend to be philosophical or spiritual in their orientation, rather than materialistic or hedonistic. They dislike small talk. They often describe themselves as creative or intuitive. They dream vividly, and can often recall their dreams the next day. They love music, nature, art, physical beauty. They feel exceptionally strong emotions–sometimes acute bouts of joy, but also sorrow, melancholy, and fear.” ― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
There are days when I wish I could throw away my innate caution and thoughtfulness and get mixed up in everything, go places far, have all manner of unusual and eccentric experiences. Sometimes the quiet does seem a bit too loud.
But this never lasts long. By the time I make up my mind to do something “extroverted,” I feel a pressing need for quiet and solitude. I accept that. I know that by pretending to be what I am not — an idea of who I sometimes think I should be — I would not be more alive and more myself than I am when I live the way I am. Even if that means below the threshold of quiet most people mistake for boredom.
“Don’t think of introversion as something that needs to be cured.” ― Susan Cain
There are good things about being an introvert:
- Less is more – You need less external stimuli, less interaction with people, less money spent on things and experiences to enjoy being alive. A book, a song, a single person is sometimes all you need for everything to feel wonderful.
- You can become your own best friend.
- You learn to count on yourself and only on yourself — when others help, it’s only a bonus. You become tough, in your own quiet way.
- It’s easier to deal with people one-on-one because you know how to listen. Everyone has something to say, but few of us listen.
- You don’t care as much for money, fame, or reputation as others. The purpose of your life won’t hinge on these.
- You can live a private and enjoyable life full of little pleasures that elude the relentless achievers.
I don’t think that we should all strive to have as many experiences as possible. To become great dancers. To travel the world. To be great with the opposite sex. To always push ourselves to achieve more. Some people are like that. When they behave that way, they live their own life story.
But there are other stories to be lived, too. Stories like Darwin’s or Newton’s or Einstein’s, where introversion transcends itself for the greater good.
“The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some, it’s a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamplit desk. Use your natural powers — of persistence, concentration, and insight — to do work you love and work that matters. Solve problems. make art, think deeply.” — Susan Cain
How much of an introvert are you? What do you do about it?