An Introvert’s Guide to the Universe…

Most people are shocked to find out that I am an introvert. I have to admit, I was a little surprised myself when I finally discovered it a few years ago. I am certainly not shy, have no fear of public speaking, and love meeting new people.

I also need a lot of quiet time, prefer to be alone to work, and feel like I am crawling out of my skin after school breaks and snow days. When my friends were out partying in college, I looked forward to the opportunity to stay in and watch a movie. I get up early – not because I am a morning person – but because I need the quiet time to collect my thoughts before the day begins.

About a month ago, I stumbled on this book by Susan Cain:

I am only about half way through it, but it definitely speaks to issues that are near and dear to me. Contrary to what most believe, introverts are not necessarily shy – they just prefer environments that are quieter, calmer, and less stimulating. They are capable of navigating complex social landscapes, but need plenty of time alone to process, reflect, and recharge. Writing is their preferred method of communication and they are more likely to engage in deep conversations as opposed to light small talk.

Not surprisingly, we tend to place a higher value on extroversion in the American culture. Our homes boast open floor plans with few walls, our businesses have moved from private office spaces to common spaces with cubicles, and our schools teach cooperative learning in pods. It seems that there is no personal space to be had.

By not allowing for private time and reflective thinking, we lose the innovations of some of our most creative thinkers.

In my own home, you can imagine that finding quiet is a challenge. I am surrounded by extroverts looking to me to meet their needs. My son and husband are both live-out-loud people who thrive on social interaction – the louder, the better. Amid the spinning, dancing, twirling, and bouncing that is my kitchen, I need to find an oasis or I can’t function.

My daughter tends to be more sensitive and gets over-stimulated easily. She is much more like me and needs solitude to calm herself.

Our home has a balance of openness and private spaces. The kitchen and living room tend to be loud and bright with movement, and the bedrooms are more soothing and quiet. I have an office where the door shuts, and make sure that my schedule allows for plenty of time alone.

I found this on Pinterest last week, and I thought I’d share it with my family.

We can all learn from the introverts in our life. Allow for some quiet space to reflect on your day, teach your children how to be alone as well as in groups, and create spaces in both your business and home where independent thinking can happen in peace.

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3 Responses to An Introvert’s Guide to the Universe…

  1. westendbaby says:

    I really enjoyed reading this. There was a radio 4 (uk) broadcast about this subject last week and I found it fascinating. I am an introvert and have really worked hard to be more extroverted my whole life but just recently am starting to accept me for who i am – a quiet person who needs a lot of ‘me’ time and who is happy in her own company.

  2. It has taken me a long time of feeling like there was something “wrong” with me to get where I am today. Are you able to get this book in the UK? I think you would really enjoy it! I am trying to get my husband – a major extrovert – to read it so that he can understand me better too.

  3. westendbaby says:

    I think I will be able to get this book over here no problem – really keen to have a read. I don’t think you can access BBC radio programmes in the States? Will send you a link to the show I was listening to. Really interesting – all about how introverts don’t cope well in modern spaces like the open plan office and how job interviews these days often favour extroverts. Fascinating.
    I think in the UK it is more acceptable to be an introvert???? Anecdotally, I have worked in Canada and Japan and found that my character was far better suited to the way people are in Japan; while in Canada I often felt that people were generally more gregarious and out-going and I felt that I was being suffocated in crowds of people…

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