Introverts Unite!

The good news is: The most creative people (percentage wise) are introverts.  (from Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain)

The bad news is:  They’re too shy, reserved, and inhibited to promote themselves.

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I’m an introvert. I’ve denied it, tried to ignore it, forced myself into jobs where extroverts shine and introverts cower, and basically lived on the stress edge of performance that kept my gut clenched and my face glued in a ‘Hi-how-are-ya smile,’ most of my life.  When invited to those dreaded after work social hours, my end of the day joy collapsed in on itself. I just wanted to go home. But in a business world where the extrovert wins, I knew I had to muster my depleted reserves and show up witty and wonderful.

Some introverts can be fairly convincing in extroverted roles. But the energy required to pull it off exacts a toll. There is a nagging sense of not belonging, of being at odds with the natural rhythms that want to shape an honest existence. And the pressure to be accepted, honored, and elevated by society is a mighty force that motivates many to reject nature and seek the limelight.

This is especially true in business. In the Quiet book, Cain discloses some curious information about Harvard Business School. Evidently that institution doesn’t look for the brightest intellectual bulbs. If their initiates show up in the 85th percentile, they’re fine with that as long as mediocrity is accompanied by a scintillating personality. If an introvert slides in under the radar, albeit a scholastically brilliant introvert, look out. While that young hopeful ponders the facts and arrives at a well thought out solution, the quick-tongued ‘deciders’ have spouted an answer and moved on to the next question.

Extroversion, like youth, beauty, and other things over which most of us have no control, is prized in our society. Institutions such as Toastmasters, Dale Carnegie, and the wildly successful life coach and motivational speaker, Tony Robbins, testify to that fact. Everyone is a wannabe extrovert and will pay to get there, whatever the cost in time, energy, and excruciating denial of true self.

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How sad.

After reading the book, I felt affirmed. Even though I’ve put those punishing, ladder-climbing days behind me , even though I’ve learned to be who I am and have created a life for myself that fits like skin, Quiet proclaimed my value. So let’s hear it for introverts, those creative, unsung souls who would rather die than be noticed.

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jane
    Jul 31, 2013 @ 16:37:06

    Wow! You perfectly described me at the end of a day! The exception of course is book club, where I can be as introverted as I want to be with no judgement!

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  2. www.laurensapala.com
    Jul 31, 2013 @ 18:38:14

    Haha, you described me perfectly as well. I’m always SO SAD whenever a happy hour is suggested and I never want to go. Not because I’m shy, but because it’s so draining. Thank you for sharing this. Things are definitely changing for us introverts 😉

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Aug 01, 2013 @ 09:13:23

      What advice would you give to others like us who face the happy hour ordeal and feel like attendance is a requirement for career advancement? Do we have to ‘buy in’ and show up? I am adamant about being who you are…who I am…but I can afford to do that now that I’m retired. What do you think?

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  3. Nanci Froemming
    Aug 01, 2013 @ 00:11:25

    I’m half way through “Quiet” and as a fellow introvert, found your blog timely and refreshing. Now if I could only sneak away for some “me time” to finish reading, I’d be in heaven!

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Aug 01, 2013 @ 09:17:09

      I can’t believe how many people are currently reading this book! I wonder how many ‘closet introverts’ there are out there who will read it and think like I did, “It’s about time someone told my story!” Now if we can get extroverts to read it things might actually change!!!

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