Monday, February 25, 2013
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
My guess is that a lot of us book bloggers can relate to the word "introvert". Though I don't want to generalize. So let me speak for myself instead...I can most certainly relate to the word introvert. I'm about as introverted as they come. I like my alone time. I cherish it and actively seek it out. When I think of my perfect place to recharge, I think of a dimly lit room, cuddled under a blanket with a book and some coffee. Or alone in a garden playing with plants. Or walking through the woods and listening to birds sing and appreciating nature all around me. Crowds, clubs, confrontation, public speaking, self advocacy....those things all nearly send me into a panic. Though I have to say I don't mind spending time with a small group of people in a more intimate setting or a quiet bar when I know the people I'm with.
As an introvert, I've always thought "there's something wrong with me." Because society (at least American society) doesn't like the introvert ideal. We are a "go get 'em" society. You're in a race with your peers in the work force for success. Those who are quiet are deemed shy and often "nerdy" as I was throughout my childhood and therefore shunned, by peers as well as teachers. It's caused problems in my relationships because I am so uncomfortable going out with people I don't know and especially to crowded places.
Susan Cain's book, Quiet, let me tell myself that it's ok to be me for the first time in a long time and I gleamed so much from this book about how to make my own personality work for myself. But let me point out now that this is not a self help book at all. The best way I can describe it is think of Mary Roach writing about introversion, but add a little bit more of a personal feel to it instead of Roach's more scientific approach to things. There is plenty of research and stories in Cain's book though it is never a heavy read. It's extremely enlightening.
The book covers every aspect of introversion that you can think of...to how it benefits a person and can hurt a person, ways in which businesses can make adjustments to benefit their companies by using the unique abilities of introverts, raising children with introversion and teaching children with introversion, being in a relationship with an introvert and as an introvert and most importantly, coming to terms with yourself and just being OK with being introverted.
Cain makes a strong argument for what I already knew down inside, just never applied....the societal norm doesn't have to dictate how I feel about myself as an introvert. Knowing who I am and how I interact with the world and what I need to feel the best each day is what matters. I listened to the audio and I'll get to that in a second, but I WISH I had a hard copy of the book because there was a quote that was so perfect and I listened to it on my way to work and it made all the difference in my work day.
I work as an admissions counselor at a psychiatric counselor and due to services being cut in Louisiana, we've had a huge influx of patients. I've been so exhausted lately. I go in at 3 and literally just rush and don't stop and go go go from one admit to the next as quickly as I can because I know the hospital wants all the admits in quickly and as many admits as possible per shift. But it's really wearing me down. What I heard Cain talk about on the way into work that day was that at our jobs, introverts need to work at our own pace. We naturally do not seek outside rewards and tend to do our jobs just to do a good job and our best work, which I do. But often at our jobs there's a conflict of wanting to do our best work and also feeling pressured by the job's demands as well. But the job will get done regardless and for our own peace of mind we need to control what we can and work at our own pace. So I went in to work that day and told myself I was going to do one admit at a time, be with that person fully, not thinking about the other five patients in the lobby, knowing that they would be seen when I finished the patient that I was with. And it really did make all the difference. I just need to keep remembering to do this!
The audio...it was SO GOOD! I think they picked the perfect reader for the audio production of this book. It was read by Kathe Mazur and I'll most certainly keep my ears open for more audiobooks that she's read. She has a wonderful tone to her voice and sounds like she was very invested in this book. The only thing I hated about the audio is what I mentioned before...not being able to write down quotes because I was driving when i listened to it. The whole last chapter, the "conclusion" was wonderful and I wish it would just be made into a poster so I could hang it on my wall. Can't recommend this one highly enough!