Please forgive the informality of calling you by your given name without our ever having been introduced. You see, after having recently devoured your book, I feel as though you know me (and vice versa) so much better than the fact that we are complete strangers might otherwise suggest.
I don’t know quite what I was expecting when I picked up your book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. I’ve long known that I am an introvert – heck, you can’t consistently test as an INTJ on the Myers-Briggs for the last fifteen years without becoming pretty aware of your introverted nature. But, I didn’t know why I was an introvert. And although I had adapted pretty well to our extroverted society, and became pretty accepting of the fact that I didn’t fit American society’s norms in that regard, I certainly didn’t advertise my introversion.
Your research and writing has provided me with insight into some of the biological reasons that likely contribute to my introverted tendencies – and many of your examples of physical manifestations of introversion seemed as though they could have been ripped out of my childhood journals.
- On Being Literally Thin Skinned: I, too, failed a polygraph test due to my body’s response to a question about drug use. Years after the fact, I can still remember the interrogator’s accusatory manner in asking, “Have you ever done drugs?!?” and the guilty feeling I had because I knew people who had done drugs, despite the fact that I could truthfully answer that I, personally, had never touched the stuff.
- On Being Hyper-Reactive: My reactions have always been disproportionately large to the events at hand. I prefer listening to cds to going to loud concerts, jump a mile at the sound of a balloon *pop*, and inevitably spoil others’ enjoyment of watching suspenseful movies. Even in the most predictable thriller, when we all know the “bad guy” is about to jump out, I can’t help but dig my nails into my neighbor’s (often my husbands!) arm when it happens.
Even though I can’t hide these physical manifestations of my personality, I have, nonetheless, developed my own ways of faking extroversion when others seem to expect that type of reaction. I’ve sought out sanctuaries to which I can retreat to calm my overwhelmed senses and just “be”. These coping mechanisms helped. It took a while (doesn’t everything seem that way during adolescence?), but I stopped resenting the fact that my introversion made me different.
Until I read your book, however, I was never proud of my introversion. Now though, I kindof am proud. Okay, I’m still not shouting “I AM AN INTROVERT!!!” from rooftops – shockingly, I’m not much of a shouter. But it’s more than that. Your examples of some of the great benefits that introverts bring to our society have helped me to see that I don’t have to be embarrassed because my voice is a bit softer or that shouting out chants with thousands of others at a conference is my own private version of hell.
I am posting this on our website rather than sending it to you directly because I want to help spread the word. I hope that the “Quiet Revolution” that you have instigated continues and grows in strength as we realize as a society that it’s well worth listening to the 30-40% of us whose natural volume know doesn’t “go up to eleven”.
Thank you so much for your treat of a book. I will recommend it to everyone who is or knows an introvert – and surely will not forget it for years to come.