Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
One day when I was in elementary school, my mom happened to drive by during recess, and she decided to slow down and look for me. (Does it make it less stalker-y if I mention that I had a really distinctive snowsuit at the time?) After skimming and scanning over different crowds of kids and starting to worry, she finally spotted me way off on the far corner of the lot, playing alone in a clump of bushes, piling up snow and stacking up sticks into a fort. "At first I felt bad, like I should pull over and tell you to go find your friends, but then I saw that you were smiling and looked completely content so I figured you were happy, and I should leave well-enough alone."
I've always been an introvert -- which may come as a surprise to certain groups of people who've known me at particular phases of my life, when I got really good at masking it and pushing myself past my comfort zone. I mean, take high school -- I made obnoxious jokes from the back row of the band room, I was in plays and helped lead the backstage crew, I was in public speaking and took on all sorts of leadership roles. And then during my VISTA years, I was in front of people all the time, facilitating meetings and conferences, putting together events, giving presentations...I could play the part of a social butterfly pretty well, for a little while. But the people that know me best know that after I've been "on" for a while, what I need most is to go home and shut off. I need to get back into my bubble.
Needless to say, this book resonated with me. Some of it is kind of general and maybe a little common-sense (or it seemed that way to me, as an introvert, anyway), but it was well-researched and offered a nice overview of some of the cultural biases and connotations of introversion/extroversion in America and the rest of the world. I also enjoyed the parts about raising introverted kids, and finding a balance between encouraging them to break out of their shells so they can cope with the world, and encouraging them to climb back into their shells for some R&R when they need it.
I'm glad my mom decided to keep driving. (Then again, she & my dad are introverts, too, so they probably had some idea what they were getting into with me.)
"Sometimes I go into my own little world…but that's okay, they know me there." - Joel Hodgson