It all started with a TED Talk.
I have been obsessed with personality typing for years without really “finding” myself. It wasn’t until I picked up Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, however, that I started to feel like just maybe there was something to all of this after all. The book has been discussed many, many times and so I won’t go into much detail. What I do want to address is what Susan Cain gave to me.
The beginnings of self-acceptance.
When Your Mask Is More Natural Than Your Face
I grew up in a household that was very extraverted. I was always expected to be “on” and socializing. The immediate family was one collective personality at times. I also have a huge extended family. Although it is a wonderful blessing to have such a huge support system, I remember feeling so claustrophobic at times and not understanding why. Most days I just fantasized about getting home from school to find the house empty.
Sometime around the beginning of college I made up my mind that I would put aside my “quirky” introverted tendencies and go all out extravert. In fact, I did such a good job that by the time I graduated from college, I couldn’t go anywhere on campus without someone recognizing and speaking to me. At one point I was up to nearly 1000 Facebook friends. Talk about cool. I put on this persona because I wanted to get ahead, be liked, be seen and be recognized rather than being ignored and talked over. So I joined clubs, went to parties, got a blackberry, got on listservs and just got out there.
You Cannot Escape Who You Are
I was wildly successful!! But at the core, some parts of me refused to change. After days of being “on” at school I would hole myself up in my bedroom for entire weekends, downward spiraling and wanting nothing more than for life to slow down, speaking to no one.
I would “forget” my cell phone some days so that I didn’t have to hear it ring. Some of this goes back to being HSP (not to mention boundary issues). But some of it was simply a typical introvert’s need to just find myself, recharge and recenter somewhere off alone, which I denied myself because then people might think I wasn’t normal or gregarious.
And Maybe Who You Are Is Wonderful
But reading Quiet last year just showed me how exhausted I have been. How I had been trying to be loud enough, alpha enough, cool enough, outgoing enough, energetic enough. I have been desperately trying to be good enough.
Quiet was one of a few books that I read in 2013 that showed me that I already am enough.
So I am more than ready to join the “Quiet Revolution” (not to be confused with this Quiet Revolution). Some of the greatest gifts and innovations come from those who spend time in deep, quiet reflection. Those who are louder and more extraverted have great qualities and give us so much.
But for some of us it pays to remember that, as Ghandi said, “in a gentle way, you can shake the world.”