Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Book That Both Took Over and Explained My Brain All At The Same Time

I just finished the book Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, by Susan Cain.

This book is fascinating.  This book is insightful.

This book is messing with my head.

I'm seeing everything and everyone in terms of extroverted or introverted tendencies.  I hear Atticus breathe a relieved, "GOOD," after I tell him that no, we're not going anywhere today and think, Hmm.  I don't know that I would previously have classified him as an introvert, but now, I'm not sure...

I tell Caedmon the same thing on Thursday- that we're not going anywhere that day- and he begs and begs and finally places my phone in my hand, begging me to call Paige so he can see the Other Atticus or get ahold of Cheryl so Mason can come over.  We've been out of the house every other day that week, but apparently even one day at home with just Mom is not enough stimulation for our possibly-extroverted Cade.

It's like being a psych major all over again, mentally diagnosing someone at the grocery store with a personality disorder because of the way they picked out their bananas.

If an extrovert is someone who is stimulated or draws energy from being around people and new experiences and an introvert is someone who is exhausted by the same, I've long placed myself deep into Introvert Territory on the introvert-extrovert spectrum.  This is not news to me.

What was new in the book were all the little things about me that are apparently strongly associated with introversion.  "I don't enjoy multitasking," "I often prefer to express myself in writing," "I prefer not to show or discuss my work with others until it's finished," and "In classroom situations, I prefer lectures to seminars"- just four of the twenty statements in an informal assessment within the book.  It reads, "The more often you answered 'true,' the more introverted you probably are.'  I answered "True" to 19 of them.

So many different sections were incredibly, helpfully enlightening:  Adelaide's complaint about how she's seated at school, in a group of five other kids, desks all facing each other.  The way she won't tell me much about school as soon as she gets home in the afternoon, but will instead begin to offer up nuggets during bathtime or at supper, after she's had time to decompress and read alone for awhile.  Her extreme, emotional, and very negative reaction to the possibility of being advanced a grade.  You'd think that I, an introverted mother to an introverted young girl would have been able to read all these signs for what they were, but nope.  I gained so much insight just into our daughter's behaviors and school day struggles to make this book worthwhile.

It also had a small section entitled "Does God Love Introverts?  An Evangelical's Dilemma."  It featured a meeting Cain had with introverted evangelical pastor Adam McHugh, author of Introverts in the Church:  Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture.  Common Household Mom praised this book in the past on her blog, and it was one of those that I wrote down (somewhere, on some scrap of paper that I could have sworn I left right there), fully intending to read, but it got lost in the mire that is my To Read list.

After reading just that small section in Quiet, McHugh's book has shot straight to the top of that same list (especially after reading this article).  Our family goes to a large, boisterous, loud, wonderful and overwhelming church, and I leave every Sunday exhausted and depleted.  Now, I love a lot of things about our church:  their vision, their mission, their teachings, their children's program, their transparency.  But the format of the service and the culture within the church provides constant stimulation from a hundred different sources for close to two hours, turning me into a quiet, seemingly reticent and somewhat wild-eyed woman who can barely form a coherent sentence because she's being asked to attend to too many things at once.  My one goal every Sunday morning, from the time I enter the massive parking lot and take a deep, bolstering breath, whispering an encouraging, "Here we go," to myself, is to make it to the sermon, because then I can deeply concentrate on one thing, which is where my strength lies.  I'm hoping this other book provides as much wisdom and advice as Quiet did.

There was so much neurological research and so many stories and so many different psychological outlooks contained within this book that I know I'm going to need to read it again at some point; just paging through it right now I'm going, "Oh, yeah, and that part," "And THIS part," and "HOW DID I NOT KNOW THIS?"  I highly, highly recommend this book for both introverts and extroverts who are struggling to understand their introverted counterparts (such as Newly Married To Me Derek, who could not understand why our early marriage arguments took the format of- Derek:  Makes a point/ Kristy:  Stands silently for 90 seconds before making her point/ Derek:  Volleys his counter-argument back immediately/ Kristy:  Stands silently for 90 seconds before making her point/ Derek:  Quickly states another point/ Kristy:  Yet again stands silently for 90 seconds before speaking, while Derek seethes in frustration because he does not understand that Kristy has to think and think and think about every possible angle before she will utter a single word.  This is difficult for quick-thinking, rapid-fire response, extremely extroverted Derek).



via Hyperbole and a Half


via Cyanide and Happiness

I meant to just include one Introversion cartoon, but I found so many funny ones.  Just like I meant to post a short, glowing review of the book.  How did you even make it this far?  This was the longest post ever.  Take the rest of the day off.  You're done.


  1. This is exactly how I felt out this book! I had to mark passages to read to Emma and Rob all the time, as we're all three introverts. One of the things I really loved about the book were the many ways in which she illustrated how introverts can excel in situations that require extroversion. I love to teach, and it totally exhausts me. But as long as I'm aware of that, and what I need to do, it works well for me.

    One of the things I found most fascinating about that book was the part about kids and schools. I had never really thought about how all that interaction and group work in Emma's school must exhaust her by the end of the day.

  2. The cartoons are great! And yes, I feel like that book explained my brain. Now I am going to read the article you linked to.

  3. I really must read this book. I'm not an introvert. I really love being around people. . .except when I don't. I am becoming less extroverted as I get older, though, and I love to analyze people and why they do what they do so I'm pretty sure I would like this one.

  4. My family is full of introverts: my husband and all 4 of our sons. For many years, I thought I was nurturing any introvert tendencies of my own simply by living in this household; however, I think back to childhood and recall playing alone in my room happily so perhaps I am more introverted than I originally thought.
    The "Introverts Unite! Separately. In your own homes." cartoon has made its way around facebook and describes my husband perfectly.


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