On April 3rd 2016, I finished reading a book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I am able to recall this date exactly, not because I have great memory, but because moments after finishing the book, I wrote a grateful email to the therapist who had recommended it to me, 2 years prior.
Now before I launch into how this book rocked my world, I want to share two important excerpts from the therapist's response to my email...
A common problem for introverts living in a world that caters to extroverts is that you feel like you have to change yourself to fit in, be heard, be successful. In most cases that will cause your self esteem to take a hit, because even if you're successful at putting on the extrovert uniform, it doesn't feel authentic.
Depression and mental breakdowns can happen to anyone at any time. If you're under a lot of stress while at the same time not feeling very good about yourself, it's easy to fall deep into it. Knowing yourself, accepting yourself, and if possible, getting to the point of liking who you are will go a long way in giving you the ability to be resilient and bounce back.
Excerpts #1 and #2 are stellar pieces of advice that I think we all need to be
reminded of from time to time. Whether you're an introvert or not, suffering from depression or not, recovering from mental issues or not, knowing and accepting yourself (weaknesses and all), is the best way to achieve resilience in your daily life.
This book is for you if you're looking to understand, accept, and especially appreciate introversion - whether you're an introvert yourself or not. Through it, I (a self-assessed INTP) was able to gain an appreciation for many of the qualities I once saw as my weaknesses.
Today, I recommend this book to you, in the hopes that whatever your situation, as an introvert or as a friend of one, the insights within will help you see introverts more completely - and in time, learn to harness all that introversion brings to the table.
The book Quiet... by Susan Cain, is a comprehensive publication backed by qualitative and quantitative research, on the ins and outs of introversion. Divided into 4 parts, the volume covers everything from the origins of the societal bias for extraversion in western culture, through the biological, psychological, and cultural benefits of introversion, concluding in part four with astute recommendations for how to live life comfortably as an introvert in an extraverted world.
Interspersed throughout the book are encouraging examples from history, and present-day, of introverts who have learnt to successfully satisfy their introverted needs whilst meeting the often extraverted demands of society. Supporting research is presented, and alternate perspectives on the personality debate are entertained.
So if you think you might be introverted, this book will help you confirm whether or not you actually are, while encouraging you to embrace your character, explaining why you should, and suggesting how you may go about it - with examples to boot.
I have nothing but praise for this book, because it is the first book I have ever read that brought me to tears from the sheer depth of connection I felt to it. On every level, in many ways, this book explored parts of my soul that I needed to understand, and for that I am eternally grateful. So grateful in fact, that I think I shall be a biased reviewer.
It's a funny thing, because this book is not your typical emotional read. It's a densely packed, 1000+ page tome (on the iPad kindle app), of what is essentially the result of many years of scientific research. The references section alone is over 200 pages! I was wholly surprised by the depth of feeling it elicited from me, and as you can tell, I'm still a bit shocked. But when over 1000 pages speak to you, I guess that's what happens.
Everything from my unusually "warm to the touch" body temperature and "old soul insight", to my love affair with solitude, and preference for one-on-one or small group conversation, were validated by this book. Little did I know before reading, that these qualities were not only characteristic of introverts, but had valid biological, psychological, and societal reasons behind them!
Needing time to gather your thoughts before speaking, recharge after engaging, and briefly escape from large gatherings... these are not strange at all.
Since my reading, I've recommended this book to everyone I know, and you dear reader are among them (especially if introverted). If you balked when I said that it's over 1000 pages, I ask that you trust that this book is worth its weight in gold. I also refer you (if introverted), back to excerpt #2:
Knowing yourself, accepting yourself, and if possible, getting to the point of liking who you are will go a long way in giving you the ability to be resilient and bounce back [in the face of adversity].