Since I was a little kid I knew I was different. Yes, I had a few friends, but I preferred to spend most of my time exploring outside by myself, or sitting alone reading.
As I continued in school, I got really good grades. I was the “smart kid.” I socialized with others, but I found most of what interested my classmates really bored me. I left high school after my junior year and enrolled in college, a place were I felt much more comfortable. After working in research labs and teaching college, I settled in as a freelance writer in my early 30s, and I’ve been content in that career ever since.
There’s a word for people like me, a word that has negative connotations in our twenty-first century western culture:
Author and fellow introvert Susan Cain recently wrote an outstanding book that addresses introversion, its characteristics, and how introverts are often treated in school and in the workplace. The book is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.
Ms. Cain examines psychological studies and case studies that detail key characteristics of introverts and extroverts, and she argues that there’s a place for both in the world. We need the dynamism and boldness of extroverts, but we also need the clarity and focus of introverts.
Quiet Table of Contents
Part One: The Extrovert Ideal
1. The Rise of the “Mighty Likeable Fellow”: How Extroversion Became the Cultural Ideal
2. The Myth of Charismatic Leadership: The Culture of Personality, a Hundred Years Later
3. When Collaboration Kills Creativity: The Rise of the New Groupthink, and the Power of Working Alone
Part Two: Your Biology, Your Self?
4. Is Temperament Destiny?: Nature, Nurture, and the Orchid Hypothesis
5. Beyond Temperament: The Role of Free Will (and the Secret of Public Speaking for Introverts)
6. Franklin Was a Politician, But Eleanor Spoke out of Conscience: Why Cool Is Overrated
7. Why Did Wall Street Crash and Warren Buffet Prosper?: How Introverts and Extroverts Think (and Process Dopamine) Differently
Part Three: Do All Cultures Have an Extrovert Ideal?
8: Soft Power: The Wind Howls but the Mountain Remains Still
Part Four: How to Love, How to Work
9. When Should You Act More Extroverted Than You Really Are?
10. The Communication Gap: How to Talk to Members of the Opposite… Type
11. On Cobblers and Generals: How to Cultivate Quiet Kids in a World That Can’t Hear Them
Reviews of Quiet
There are many detailed reviews on Amazon.
You can also search “Quiet Susan Cain review” on Google to pull up many more.
There Are Many Types of Introverts…
And I share many, but not all, of the characteristic traits of introversion. I’m a bit of mixed breed:
- I do like interacting with intelligent people, though usually in small groups.
- I can be comfortable in large social situations, although I usually don’t like to stay late.
- I also was very comfortable in front of classes of 50 or more college students back when I taught political science courses, something that’s rare for most introverts, who often have strong fears of public speaking.
- And I can and do speak forcefully for my ideas, when that’s called for.
Susan Cain’s TED Talk about Introverts
Here Susan Cain shows what introverts can do when they’re really passionate about their mission in life. It’s 19 minutes, but well worth your time.
Are Freelance Writers Mostly Introverts?
I can’t speak for all freelance writers, but I know that most of us do solitary work that requires focus and concentration, and that we need to use our brains to succeed in our field.
Are you an introvert? if so, how has it affected your life? Your freelance writing?