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

This book took me a bit longer to read. I kept putting it off for other books and had to return it to the library twice. In the end, I finished it on the Kindle. As a typical introvert, I’ve wanted to read this book for awhile, but I didn’t get into it easily. The more I read this book, the more I related to it.

When people meet me and at work, I think most consider me gregarious and extroverted. Even my good friends at work have said that I am more an extrovert. In the last couple of years, I also realized that I may have a mild form of Attention Deficit Disorder. I often multi-task. I also do things much faster than most people I know. I read fast, talk fast, work fast, eat fast. To me, this has always been normal. I’m not anxious. I just function at a different rate than most people. This has been a negative at times because people think I am doing it on purpose. I wish I had known about my mild attention disorder as a kid. It explains a lot.

However, even though my brain likes to jump from topic to topic, I like my quiet moments. I meditate. I like living alone. I enjoy working alone a little bit more than in a team I like spending hours by myself, reading, baking, or watching. I love my friends and family, but I truly treasure my alone time. I am a typical introvert in that I have a small group of close friends. I am dreamer and very introspective. I am sensitive.

Reading this book made me realize how I am a low stimulator even with my attention issues. I like music, but I don’t really work with it or listen to it much. I don’t like reading with music or anything else around. Quiet at home is paramount.

There as a chapter on the extrovert ideal in other cultures. Cain uses Asian-American culture as an example. I am East Asian, but I was not born in North America and I have studied abroad. I have met and known many international students. I could relate to the chapter and dispute it a bit. While there is a strong sense of hardwork, filiaty, and disciplined behaviour with school, there is still definitely a loudness, directness, and even tactlessness in some East Asian cultures. I will agree that Chinese students (especially those from Asia) are not use to speaking in class. I even had a discussion about this when I was in graduate school with my Chinese friends. They were not use to speaking in class. The only reason I began to speak more aggressively in class in university was that there was a participation component in most of the courses.

Canadian culture is also less pushy about aggressive extroversion as Americans. I have many American friends and I do think the excessive loquaciousness and sociability is much more prominent. So growing up, it was easier for me to be more of a nerd. I am not competitive. In fact, it makes me slighty uncomfortable when people a competition out of everything. I just want to leave. As an Asian, I do think there is a passivity. That may also be my own personality and upbringing. I am assertive, but I don’t enjoy competition for the sake of it. I also dislike team sports.

I also don’t think talkers are necessarily extroverts. I usually talk a lot when I am with other people because I want to engage them. I also work with someone who admits to being an introvert, but he talks more than most people I know and always interjects. I think talking is not necessarily a sign one or the other.

The chapter about self-monitors and self-presentation was interesting. In recent years, I had to be more social because I was moving around or my friends moved away. In order to meet new people, I would have to be even more open and have go to events to meet more people. I also had to do it when I went back to customer service. I agree with one of the introverts in the book that customer service is often about listening. It can be exhausting for introverts, but still rewarding. I really do think it’s a valuable skill for most jobs.

Reading this book made me realize that I am high self-monitor. I’ve had to be though, and I do like people. I’m just very particular about whom I call my friends and how often I want to spend time with people. Even now, I feel much busier than I am. I am going to try to set more time for meditation

One of introvert and consummate socialite in the book who admitted to hating being at parties but he enjoyed hosting parties because “it puts you at the centre of things without having being a social person.” I never really thought of that way because I dread the idea of hosting a party! I don’t even do birthday parties for myself. I like to attend small parties, but I find myself listless after awhile if I don’t know anyone or can’t connect with anyone more than just small talk. The book makes a point that there really are different types of small talk. It also depends on if the relationship is likely to extend beyond that conversation. I always hope my relationships go beyond small talk, but one can tell early on if it doesn’t. I put a lot of effort in my relationships.

In the midst of finishing this book, I had to attend a work summer party. It has been many years where I didn’t feel as drained, tired, introverted and isolated like I did. Of course no one noticed it, but it was a good reminder about my own introversion. I’ll make a point to give myself more alone, quiet and contemplative time.

I enjoyed this book and it did make me think a lot about myself. I recommend it to others on the more introverted end of the scale.

Read May 16-July 1, 2015 on book and kindle.

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