For now, this website is going to be a catalogue of my reflections on books. In the future, it may be an online junk drawer that doesn’t close all the way. Life is full of fun surprises.
The first book review of this new year is on a book that I read in October of 2018 (because this is me we are talking about, and since when have I done anything in the order in which it was assigned? Maybe third grade. Maybe). It’s not the most recent book that I have read, however, since reading this book my understanding of myself has intensified. And so, I didn’t want to bound into 2019 not having given it the attention it deserves. This book is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.
Reading this book has given me permission to say, “No”, to be alone with my thoughts, to be in a crowded room and reserve the right to not engage in conversation, and instead, observe. It has helped me to accept my awkwardness and unbridled embarrassment or guilt in select situations throughout my life and to forgive myself (again), gently close the door, and move forward. It has shed stadium lights on the differences between my husband and myself and made me more patient with his needs and more assertive in my own. [Side note: She gives an example of introverted patients who responded better to gentle, soothing speech when encouraged to do something - “I know this is hard”, “Very nice…”, “Keep up the good work” - versus extroverts who responded better to more aggressive language such as “You can do more than that!” and “Concentrate on your exercise!”. This explains in a nutshell the entire first half of my marriage to Tony. And while it was easy for us to chalk it up to his Sicilian heritage, I now realize that his extroverted nature plays a large role in his communication tendencies.] It has helped me to reflect (note I did not say “obsess”) on my past and learn how to navigate confidently into my future. I feel like I am who I was meant to be without the overwhelming urge to apologize for it, explain it, or God forbid, contort myself into someone else.
The world will clamp down and squeeze until you submit. The pressure will test your walls and your foundation might falter under so much weight. But I am fearfully and wonderfully made*, and this book was the reminder I needed to have courage and stand tall. Cain writes, “So when introverts assume the observer role, as when they write novels, or contemplate unified field theory - or fall quiet at dinner parties- they’re not demonstrating a failure of will or a lack of energy. They’re simply doing what they’re constitutionally suited for”. (How introverted of me to feel relieved in the validation of a complete stranger.)
The book, in my opinion, is not only a useful read for introverts. She discusses the differences and similarities between introverts and extroverts alike, as well as the complexities of both. Learning what makes us different is just as important as what makes us similar because by engaging in both, we learn how to communicate and understand. Not everyone can be pigeon-holed under a label, which is exactly the point. It’s about embracing your strengths, which you might have viewed as faults, and enriching your life through this new point of view. Live positively and be kind to yourself for who you are.
*”I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are your works; my soul knows this well” -Psalm 139:14