No Other Tale The Same: Quiet

Society will always be consumed by defining and analyzing personalities. Quiet by Susan Cain provides amazing insights about and sheds some new light on introverts. While some might see being defined as an introvert as a negative, Cain quickly debunks those myths. Introverts are not shy, she explains. They are simply more thoughtful, conscientious and analytical.

Cain's explanation of society's "extroverted ideal" was extremely interesting, and she said it starts in childhood. She gave examples of several case studies where an extroverted parent had an introverted child and worried constantly that the child had a few close friends, didn't want to participate in big class parties and was quieter in class. She said instead of worrying about that, it would be better to appreciate the child's strengths and let them explore their own interests. Cain also talked about how teachers are putting the pressure of the "extrovert ideal" onto their students by placing such great importance on group work all the time. I felt guilty as I realized exactly how true this is.

As adults, this continues as workplaces are designed more and more to be completely open, group work is consistently valued over individual work and it's necessary to "sell yourself" to move up in the workplace. Cain wrote about the importance of valuing all personality types, and about how it's necessary to have a balance. If everyone in a group makes decisions quickly without the analysis (stereotypical extrovert traits), then the group could be headed into a negative direction.

I was given this book to read by a friend of mine who, after decades of friendship, told me she considers herself an introvert. My first reaction was to laugh it off because I too have been living within the extrovert ideal. I told her since she has many friends, is social, and can meet people easily there is no way she could be an introvert (unwittingly implying that introverts are shy and socially awkward). Upon reading this book, however, I realized that one, I'm wrong, and two, introversion is much more than that narrow set of stereotypes I came up with. Introversion and extroversion are largely hinged on where you recharge - with others, or alone. Neither is negative or positive. Society needs all types of people to be balanced.

Upon reflection, I realized that I have several more introvert qualities than I had realized in years. In elementary and middle school, I was alone more often than not. I was content simply reading a book. However, I recognized that I didn't fit in socially. Therefore, when I reached high school, I decided to adapt more extrovert qualities; going up to people and talking to them, speaking more in class, and participating in the school musicals. These actions took me far, and still, today, one of my qualities that I pride myself on is the ability to be able to go up and talk to anyone. Did I always have these qualities in me, or did I force myself to be like this because society prizes the extrovert?

In my opinion, the most important point that Cain made is that no one person is purely introvert or extrovert. Everyone is a mixture in some way. However, this book is incredibly important to be able to look deeper into a personality that has been deemed "second-class" by American society. As Cain stated, Moses was an introvert, Dr. Seuss was an introvert, Rosa Parks was an introvert, J.K. Rowling is an introvert, and so many other amazing thinkers have been introverts. I'm pretty sure we wouldn't have wanted them to change their personality in any kind of way, though even Cain, as an introvert herself, admits that in order to sell her book she had to become a "pseudo extrovert". Can we as a society learn to accept all personalities, or will we only listen to those who present themselves in one type of way?