DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!

introverts

Oct 22 2012

Quiet Time

by Jnai W

I take my quiet time, my moments of relative solitude, any way I can get them.  Often my me-time takes place as I’m commuting to work. Usually that means MARTA, with a commute time that clocks in at just under 3 hours. ( I know that seems crazy and unreasonable—well, it is but nothing gets the blood flowing like chasing a bus or weaving around idlers-on-the-subway escalators at the crack of dawn.)

The truth of the matter is that I rather like mass transit. It’s not perfect but it affords me some time to do things that nurture my creative streak while preparing for the day ahead. While I’ve taken my people-watching down to the barest minimum—just enough to keep an eye out for the shiftier of my transit mates—I can still take the time to journal, read or listen to music.

I’ve been reading the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts In a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I’m reading a book about being a quiet type in a loud type society. Lately, and I’m not sure why, I’ve been reading this book while listening to decidedly extroverted, noise pop like M.I.A, Sleigh Bells or someone else. Oddly enough I listen to it as loud as I can within reason—loud enough to overcome the roar of the bus’ engine but soft enough to not be called out by the bus driver/noise ordinance cop who’s in no mood to hear for my “teenager music”. (“Whaddya mean you don’t wanna hear my Dizzee Rascal, sir?)

I find myself relating to alot of my fellow introverts featured in this book. I land on passages about Don, a Harvard Business School student who worries that his mild, reserved demeanor is losing him ground in the aggressively extroverted culture of his school. While reading, I’m hearing the catchy synthy dance pop of singer Santigold singing a lyric to her song “L.E.S Artistes”—”Fit in so good the hope is that you cannot see me later/ You don’t know me I am an introvert, an excavator”. It’s an apropos lyric that swirls around me, inculcating me for a moment in time in a cubicle of communal solitude, if that makes any sense.

{ 0 comments }

Jun 1 2012

ShareReads: Shhh….

by Dea Anne M

ShareReads intro

I think I can say that most people who know me would not call me “shy.” Quiet maybe and not usually the life of the party, but not shy.

Well, I have a secret.

I am.

I was lucky enough to have parents who let me be myself and encouraged my passions for reading, writing, and drawing.  Both sides of my extended family, however, are filled with boisterous sorts who think that nothing is better than spending nearly every waking moment with each other arguing, joking, and talking…a lot. I love them all dearly but there were many times during my childhood when I longed for a retreat from so much togetherness and chatter. Middle school was just plain awful, as I think it must be for anyone who can’t quite squeeze themselves into the rigid social parameters of that particular environment. My mom finally rescued me from a particularly rough time by enrolling me in drama classes. She didn’t consult me about this and you’d think that a shy, quiet child would be horrified at the prospect. Instead, I found that I loved everything about acting and the theater and discovered an emotional strength that I never knew I possessed. To this day, I honestly believe that my mom’s  intuition and love rescued my essential self from the some of the worst damage it could have suffered.

As you might gather, I’ve given this a lot of thought over the years and so, Susan Cain’s wonderful new book Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking really struck a chord for me.  Cain, a former corporate lawyer,  is herself a self-described introvert who, strange as it might seem, does quite a bit of public speaking. Actually, I don’t think this is a paradox at all. I think of my own love of acting and the “rightness” I always felt about being on stage playing a part. Also, although it isn’t addressed in depth in Cain’s book, there are more than a few introverts in the arts who are, or were, dynamic performers and often quite gregarious within the right situations. Steve Martin, Audrey Hepburn, Jimi Hendrix, Meryl Streep are all introverts who have undeniably entertained and moved many. Cain draws our attention to many of those individuals who changed our social and cultural landscape through passion and quiet strength: Rosa Parks, Albert Einstein, Steve Wozniak, Gandhi, J. K. Rowling. All these and more make it clear that our world would be a very, very different place were it not for the contributions of introverts.

This is a thoughtful, very readable, approach to the question “What is the place of introverts in a culture that values the Extroverted Ideal?” (and Cain makes it clear that this ideal is by no means universal). Introverts can lay claim to many qualities that enhance their success as artists, teachers, leaders. Big-picture thinking, listening skills, and the ability to effectively use solitude are invaluable but Cain makes the point that perhaps the introvert’s greatest strength is the quality of persistence.  The old adage tells us that genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. For good or ill our culture tends to lionize the glamorous one percent, but on that issue Einstein had, I think, the best last word. “It isn’t that I’m so smart,” he once said. “It’s that I stay with problems longer.”

If you are an introvert, you need to read this book. If you are an extrovert seeking to understand a friend, a partner, a co-worker, or a boss, you will find Quiet a wonderful resource. Either way, this book gets my highest recommendation.

{ 3 comments }