mindfulness ~ the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something
For a while now, I’ve noticed a trend in discussions around the value of quiet. I’m not just referring to physical stillness, but the act of quiet in conversations along with the need for alone time. Over the years, much has been written on the subject including how the personality type of an introvert compares to one of an extrovert. Most recently from Susan Cain in her book titled QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking where she explores this exact topic.
While listening to her TED talk (below) there was one point in particular that made me nod my head in agreement. It was how society places the extrovert at a higher status of importance over the reserved and less socially spirited introvert. Giving us the message that it is better or more ideal to be an extrovert.
I am continually finding articles stating that most creative types fall under this label of introvert. As a writer and one who falls under this category, I will be the first to admit I am a complete introvert through and through. Without hesitation I would much rather be alone than at a party, visiting with a friend or on a phone call. I can go weeks without talking to my close girlfriends and sisters and then feel guilty from being so absent.
It never fails to surprise people when I tell them I am an introvert and their reason is always the same. “You’re so personable and friendly. You don’t seem shy at all!” Shy is not the same as introverted. According to Cain, “Shyness is the fear of negative judgment, and introversion is a preference for quiet, minimally stimulating environments.” Yes, that is exactly me! I’m comfortable in my own skin and have confidence in what I say and do in life, but it takes a lot of willpower to get me to interact. When I am in a social setting, I’m the one who tends to sit back and take it all in rather than feel the need to be chatty and overpowering within the conversations. I would much rather allow the talk to flow naturally and interject when I feel it makes sense instead of always needing to answer or add my opinion.
Being an introvert, I have to force myself to be social and more extroverted. It’s not in my nature to seek out the big parties, engage in social media or visit with my friends regularly. I’m happiest working alone in solitude for long stretches of time. When I don’t get enough quiet time, I can get rather cranky and out of sorts. It’s taken me years to realize just how important quiet solitude is to my well being. Now that I know this, I don’t feel so odd or nerdy and have a better understanding why I yearn for a barn in our back woods for my writing space. A place for my quiet time and the ability to separate from the rest of the world.
According to Cain, a balance somewhere toward the middle of introvert and extrovert is best and you would then be referred to as an ambivert.
Have you read her book? What are your thoughts on it? I haven’t but I am planning to read it soon. In the meantime here is a quiz to see where you fall on the line of introvert, ambivert or introvert. I took it and yes, I am a true introvert.
“Wise men, when in doubt whether to speak or to keep quiet, give themselves the benefit of the doubt, and remain silent.” ~ Napoleon Hill