It is a word I know all too well.
It has been used to describe me for most of my life. And I have proof! It was used by quite a few of my form teachers in primary school in Singapore, written in my report book pretty much every year (I can’t remember but it seems like my secondary school teachers were more encouraging in their comments, either that or they made use of the thesaurus).
I was a quiet kid, my late maternal grandmother remembered how I would wake up in the mornings (presumably when my parents took off on a holiday and she babysat) and go find books to read.
As a teenager, I remember being terrified one day in class when we had a debate, and I stood there, frozen, after I had quickly mumbled my part long before the time ran out.
Somehow I made it through a couple of years as a journalist in Singapore (I suppose that was my period of playing ‘pretend extrovert’), then succumbed for a quieter job as a sub-editor, and later, a research assistant. Jobs far suited to my nature.
Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking seemed written for me. So, fair warning, I’m pretty much biased.
It was fascinating to read of her examples: Harvard Business School, evangelists at a megachurch, attending a Tony Robbins seminar, Asian-American students in Cupertino. All the time citing some even more fascinating research and experiments on issues like the Extrovert Ideal, groupthink, the Orchid Hypothesis. And plenty of introvert-boosting fun facts like how we wouldn’t have Apple computers, E=mc2 without our fellow introverts.
Would an extrovert be into this book, I wonder?
Like Vasilly, I found Chapter 11 on introverted children really useful.
Because my kid is a quiet kid.
I think he was probably one of those highly sensitive babies whom Cain talks about. Until just a few months ago (he will be two at the end of the month), he would cry when people came over to the house (even our neighbour and his 1-year-old). The first time I took him to a playdate (ok there were quite a few other babies/toddlers there and it was a bit loud), he cried. Take him to a new place and he clings to me, despite the many many enticing toys and fun things around. We go to Gymboree once a week and for the first few months, he refused to join in the group activities, preferring to climb and explore on his own. Or sometimes hide under things and refuse to come out.
These days, he still prefers to do his own thing, he likes to watch what other kids do (usually with a serious look on his face as if he’s studying them), but he’s more willing to try out things, to go up to the teacher conducting the activities in the Gymboree class and listen to her instructions (and sometimes even give her a high-five). At a birthday party over the weekend, the many many adults and kids didn’t really faze him too much, he played with the toys (wandering off without us into the play room) and giggled and jumped in the bouncy house (he enjoyed it so much he refused to come out).
I guess you can see how much this book meant to me, so much so that I’ve written far more about my family’s introvertedness than the book itself! This is just my way of saying that it was a really interesting read, and I found myself poking my nose out of the book, starting sentences with ‘did you know…’ or ‘wow, I didn’t realize that…’ to the husband, who, while an introvert too, often plays at being an extrovert in his line of work, and who found the snippets of research I was passing to him interesting and relevant – or at least he pretends to.
So here I am, an introvert in a family of introverts, reading about other introverts (like the author herself), taking pleasure in knowing that we are not alone.
I received this book from the Crown Publishing Group for review.