Friend: Everything okay between us? *looking somewhat hurt*
Me: Yes. Why?
Friend: You don’t seem to be talking as much as you used to when we met up before.
Me: *surprised* Oh I didn’t think anything was wrong. It’s just that I have been working from 9am to 11pm the last few days. I have been out interviewing deaf people and have been engaging in lengthy conversations with them almost every night. I do feel that my energy is depleted and I am trying to re-charge my battery by enjoying some periods of silence. Do you feel the need to talk all the time?
Friend: Yes, actually I do.
Me: When you travel are you able to take one day off to just sit a read a book with your travel companion in silence?
Friend: No, actually I think it’s a waste of time. A holiday is meant to be going out seeing places everyday, as much as you can.
Me: Actually, that’s the kind of thing I like – my ideal holiday where I can enjoy sightseeing and conversing with someone during the trip. But, at the same time have my own space while enjoying their company. I do like having periods of rest while I travel just to get lost in a book or simply write something. I don’t feel the need to cover every place when I travel.
This happened a few months ago during the summer holidays in Singapore. After this brief exchange, I suddenly felt a little pressured to talk but I didn’t know what to say. I also felt that my friend was being too sensitive – taking my silence personally. So, I decided to bring up the topic of extroversion vs introversion. I asked if she had read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain and shared some insights from the book with her. To my surprise, it led to a deep and enjoyable discussion between the two of us. We came to a better understanding of our differences.
My friend is clearly an extrovert who feels the need to fill up every silent moment with incessant chatter. I, on the other hand, love engaging in long conversations when I am feeling my best self but can also sit in silence with someone for periods of time and still emerge feeling like we had the best conversation. 😉 I’m not 100% introvert. After analyzing myself and how much people interaction I like to have and can handle, I feel that I am somewhat 60% introvert 40% extrovert.
I am thankful for the author who wrote this book. It has answered so many questions for me – especially why I am the way I am. 😉 It explains why I think deeply and feel deeply about things. I became very aware of what sort of career I am most suited to and what kinds of situations become a source of stress. It’s deepened my understanding of my strengths and weaknesses. It was also heartening to read that introverts are the ones who get the job done and that many successful people in the world have strong introverted tendencies. Yesterday, during the VL2 retreat, I was encouraged by one professor’s sharing. He admitted to being an introvert and was honest about what kinds of situations are stressful for him. He is someone I respect a great deal as he is very successful in his academic career. In my mind, I was thinking, “Yay! Another fellow introvert!” I felt that I wasn’t alone.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book…
“Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.”
“There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.”
“Don’t think of introversion as something that needs to be cured…Spend your free the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to.”
“The highly sensitive [introverted] tend to be philosophical or spiritual in their orientation, rather than materialistic or hedonistic. They dislike small talk. They often describe themselves as creative or intuitive. They dream vividly, and can often recall their dreams the next day. They love music, nature, art, physical beauty. They feel exceptionally strong emotions–sometimes acute bouts of joy, but also sorrow, melancholy, and fear. Highly sensitive people also process information about their environments–both physical and emotional–unusually deeply. They tend to notice subtleties that others miss–another person’s shift in mood, say, or a lightbulb burning a touch too brightly.”
“…I also believe that introversion is my greatest strength. I have such a strong inner life that I’m never bored and only occasionally lonely. No matter what mayhem is happening around me, I know I can always turn inward.”
“The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some, it’s a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamplit desk. Use your natural powers — of persistence, concentration, and insight — to do work you love and work that matters. Solve problems, make art, think deeply.”
“So stay true to your own nature. If you like to do things in a slow and steady way, don’t let others make you feel as if you have to race. If you enjoy depth, don’t force yourself to seek breadth. If you prefer single-tasking to multi-tasking, stick to your guns. Being relatively unmoved by rewards gives you the incalculable power to go your own way.”
“Whoever you are, bear in mind that appearance is not reality. Some people act like extroverts, but the effort costs them energy, authenticity, and even physical health. Others seem aloof or self-contained, but their inner landscapes are rich and full of drama. So the next time you see a person with a composed face and a soft voice, remember that inside her mind she might be solving an equation, composing a sonnet, designing a hat. She might, that is, be deploying the powers of quiet.”
“We don’t ask why God chose as his prophet a stutterer with a public speaking phobia. But we should. The book of Exodus is short on explication, but its stories suggest that introversion plays yin to the yang of extroversion; that the medium is not always the message; and that people followed Moses because his words were thoughtful, not because he spoke them well.”
There is a Ted Talk by the author. If you are interested in watching it, please click here.
Tonight, I will be attending the Discovering Deaf Worlds Gala. I have been looking forward to this event for the past few weeks. So excited about dressing up and getting out there to network. Networking is one of my favorite things to do.
I’m also certain that after tonight, I am going to need to spend the next day alone to recharge my energy. 😉