Many years ago, I discovered that I was an introvert. I had never really thought about it much. I read a book about twice exceptional children (because my kid must have been twice exceptional . . . whatever, I was a new parent) and it described the personality traits of introversion and extroversion. I learned that introverts need to recharge by having some alone time while extroverts get their energy from interacting with others. That made complete sense to me, I checked the box that applied to me and aligned my family and friends with whichever box applied to them, and I moved on. It was handy to know that my kid, like me, needed to escape to a safe haven after school and that my husband needed to host a party every so often.
Recently, I’ve found myself annoyed, annoyed, annoyed by the little Facebook posts, articles, books, advertisements, Today Show jokes and little squiggly cartoons targeted at the shocking revelation that introverts are people too. They can be entertainers, they aren’t all librarians (in fact, I’d be willing to bet that the intro/extro ratio amongst librarians is the same as the ratio in the general population . . . SHOCKING), they sometimes even rise to the position of President of these United States. The messages are meant, I think, to be enlightening. It’s ok to be an introvert, see all the positive qualities that introverts have? See all the things they can do, poor souls?
It feels a little bit like being told it’s ok to have big feet or curly hair. Sometimes people with big feet AND curly hair get nominated for and win the Nobel Peace Prize — can you believe it?
Why is this aspect of personality so worthy of an entire book (or many books, I’m not sure) devoted to the notion that introverts can actually be interesting, have lives worth living and contribute in positive ways in a corporate setting, a church group, a friendship, yada yada yada?
I bought the audio version of Susan Cain’s book, “Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” last year, thinking it would be a fun listen on a road trip. She tells us that thirty percent of the population (at least that’s how many will ADMIT to having this horrendous affliction) are floating around being introverts, and that they can actually, wait for it, have power. I couldn’t get past the second chapter.
For those of you who are still struggling with how to live with the introverts around you, Google “how to love an introvert.” You’ll find plenty of helpful tidbits.