Back in December I added Susan Cain’s Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking, which was first published in 2012, to my reading list for 2020. At the time nobody could have imagined that Covid-19 would force large numbers of people around the world to literally stop talking and hole up in their homes.
I have just finished reading it and I am pleased to inform you that I made the right choice. Cain, a self-avowed introvert, takes the reader along on a deep and delightful tour into the minds of quieter types, and draws out lessons that will be useful for everyone. The book comes as close as anything to a guide for getting the most out these trying times.
She contends that the modern world puts too much store in temperamentally loud and outgoing people. Introverts, overstimulated by the noise, withdraw to the fringes of society, and end up inhabiting a parallel world, invisible from that of ordinary folks. This is society’s loss because boatloads of talents go unappreciated.
Some of these talents, like writing, scientific investigation and philosophy, proceed from the proclivity of introverts to pay more attention to things for longer periods than extroverts. Cain acknowledges that this is not the exclusive stomping ground of introverts but asserts that they are more natural at it.
It is no wonder, therefore, that introverts are historically overrepresented in these fields. They are the main areas in which introverts have contributed to human well-being. But it is a great wonder that what makes them adept in these areas, their introversion, is also often looked down upon in society.
Social efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19, like quarantines and voluntary isolations, have forced people, including those who couldn’t stay quiet for a minute to save their lives, into seclusion. When these measures started rolling out, memes emerged parodying the extrovert ideal. Now, many declared, was the time for people to learn what introverts do for fun.
Like all viral memes, they were funny because they contained the flavour of truth. Now, indeed, is the time to tap into your introvert side. If you have no introvert side, it’s time to locate the introverts around you and figure out what makes them tick. There are more of them around you than you think.
The best place to start, though, might be to try the quintessential introvert activity. Grab a book, curl up in a corner, and read till the sun goes down.
Book: Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking
- Author: Susan Cain
- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Crown/Archetype; 1 edition (24 January 2012)Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0307352145
- ISBN-13: 978-0307352149
Mathew Otieno writes from Nairobi, Kenya and is blog is printed with permission