Sunday, September 20, 2015

2015.09.20 Introverts In An Extroverted Culture

You might find us in corners of large rooms at huge social events or cocktail parties. We huddle together and talk with one or two others as if no one else was there, which is what we wish. 

Some people think we introverts are snobs, or antisocial. We’re not, though we may be shy. I can be shy, somber, silent and serious—as well as humorous and impish. My mother, the extrovert, called me “sourpuss”. She was right. I thought of her as trivial, exaggeratedly fluffy, phony, and wearing one of those smiley faces—all the time. We didn’t always get along.  See what I mean?


Nevertheless, the world is full of introverted types—about half of us as a matter of fact.

Psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, defined us as types/temperaments who derive basic life energy from within. Extroverts get energy from interaction with people, lots of them—too many for me! Introverts like connection, which is not the same as interaction. We aren’t too noisy about things. We love deeply, have big hearts, and good humor, and, contrary to appearances, we love people, just not too many at once. Often we are smart, even wise. Not all of us are monastics, although the best things happen in our hearts and minds when we are in our “cells”— silent and in solitude. We love silent retreats.
Some fish actually do know when it's overcrowded. We jump back and forth, in and out.

Unfortunately, American culture is one in which forced extroversion is the ideal. Being outgoing and super-extroverted is the way to be popular, to get jobs, get into colleges, collect friends, be successful, get ordained. The more people around, the better it is for extroverts. (Though I’ve learned to manage, coffee hour after church is my least favorite time—except for the cupcakes if they’re there:)  

The book Quiet by Susan Cain details a full picture and deep understanding of introversion, its wonders and its difficulties, both socially and individually. She tells stories, including her own, of how hard it can be to try to keep up among the effervescent, sunny and buoyant. Dale Carnegie was an introvert who designed his courses to help himself and other introverts navigate the social scene. Such an introverted thing to do, and make money on it, too. There are many more stories like his in this fine book. Even better........Karl Jung said that, although introverts will essentially always be introverts, as we age we pick up more qualities of extroversion. So I'm a blend now.

The same is true for extroverts. That's why my dearly beloved husband tells me to stop talking so much and leave him alone with his meditations.  OMG...Love conquers all differences.

Hi Dad. You were 104 on your August 25th birthday. Happy Birthday, Dad. I think you were an introvert and I wish you were still alive. 

Mahatma Gandhi, one of the world’s greatest agents for liberation and spiritual transformation on a large scale, was an introvert—politician no less. He wrote this manifesto.


There’s a word for “people who are in their heads to much”: thinkers.

Solitude is a catalyst for innovation.

The next generation of quiet kids can and must be raised to know their own strengths.

Sometimes it helps to be a pretend extrovert. There will always be time to be quiet later.

But in the long run, staying true to your temperament is key to finding work you love and work that matters.

One genuine new relationship is worth a fistful of business cards.

It’s OK to cross the street to avoid making small talk.

“Quiet leadership” is not an oxymoron.

Love is essential; gregariousness is optional.

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”?