So I have a little challenge for all of you - extroverts, too! Read the book that I would say changed my life, if I wanted to be dramatic. But I don't. So instead, let's just say it changed how I see life, and other people, and myself. It made me understand introversion in a way all those online Buzzfeed articles never could, and what's more, offers nuts-and-bolts, practical advice on how to thrive as an introvert. How to use this trait that's hard-wired into our DNA, instead of trying to change it.
Most books I read quickly, put down, and immediately forget - but this one has stuck with me. I've read it twice now, and even though my last read was probably two years ago, I still find myself referring to it in conversation all the time - just last week, even, when a friend was commenting on the horrors of being made to "stand up and introduce yourself" in big groups.
Quiet lays the groundwork by showing how nearly everything in American society - our workplaces, our social settings, even our places of worship - are geared towards extroverts. It explains how we got here; how we as a society started glorifying people skills over character back in the 1920s, and why. (Actually a fascinating history lesson.) It contrasts these beliefs and practices with other countries that are predominately introverted, and then recommends changes we can make on both corporate and personal levels so everyone - extroverts AND introverts - can thrive.
I first read Quiet on the recommendation of Felicia Day, who I love, when she made the extraordinary claim that she believed every famous internet personality was an introvert. This completely boggled my mind, even though it lined up with my (admittedly limited) experience meeting other online celebs. After reading Quiet, though, I think she's right. There's a reason we introverts flock to the internet to work and socialize. We're wired a little differently, communicate differently, and the internet is the best thing to happen to us since the invention of mini-blinds.
(I may have just lost 5 minutes looking at funny pictures of cats and mini-blinds. There are some doozies. I recommend a google. :D)
There's a famous funny person online I'm casually acquainted with, and the last time we met up in person John later commented, "THIS is the person who does THAT?" Because socializing is a different skill set, and the two just don't always translate. After reading Quiet I understand that more than ever, and rather than seeing this as a bad thing - rather than feeling guilty about my own social inadequacies and anxieties - I can instead appreciate the opportunities I have today to shine. (The first few chapters of Quiet are a depressing history lesson in just how horribly introverts were treated in our grandparents' time, particularly children. There's still a ways to go, but happily things ARE changing for the better.)
To sum up, everyone should read Quiet, introverts and extroverts alike. Susan Cain's writing is easy to read and hard to put down, with lots of real-life examples to keep things interesting. After reading a library copy I immediately bought one for myself, because this is one I want to reread every few years. I've recommended Quiet to family and friends many times over, and I'm betting you guys will find it as vital and affirming and perspective-shifting as I have. So go, read! And if you already have read it, I'd love to hear your thoughts. What stood out for you? Any favorite nuggets?