It’s Okay to Be an Introvert: A Review of Susan Cain’s Quiet

Today is my birthday, and if I could choose to do whatever I wanted, I would choose to be alone with a book all day.  Perhaps this is because I have a toddler and I’m tired.  Any sort of respite from her antics is much appreciated, despite the fact that I love and adore her, even when she has that mischievous grin because she’s gotten into the gum again, or because she’s eating a pencil, or because she’s found a way onto the bathroom counter and has the water on full blast, or because she’s figured out how to turn on Netflix by herself, or because she’s emptying all the drawers in the kitchen, or because she’s wearing a diaper on her head, or because she’s eating toothpaste, or because she’s rubbing soap all over her face, or because she’s pulling out all the dental floss, or because she’s found the water bottle and is spraying my new ZGallerie couch with it, or because she’s jumping up and down on her bed during nap time, or because … Well, you get the picture.

There’s that “I’m-planning-something-naughty” grin! (I have permission to use this photo from Monae Photography and Design.)

A better explanation for my preferred solitude might have something to do with the fact that I’m an introvert.  I’ve always been quiet and timid.  I used to pretend that I was Miss America when I visited the grocery store alone.  I did this to overcome my shyness.  As a child, I was so bashful that looking people in the eyes or going to a store alone seemed harder than climbing Mount Everest.  I felt embarrassed to speak, especially to a grownup, even if that grownup worked behind a cash register and made minimum wage.  To me, anybody was a possible threat.  I have never been outgoing, but pretending to be Miss America helped me to put on a façade of confidence that got me through those grocery store checkout lines and through many more essential experiences.

Apparently, I am not alone in being a fake extrovert.  According to author Susan Cain in her book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, a third to a half of the world’s population are introverts.  Yet, she explores how American culture has adopted the Extrovert Ideal, in which those who are gregarious, confident, outgoing, and charismatic tend to be thought of as more successful, smart, and important than those of us who prefer to keep quiet.

She tells the story of one boy, whose parents constantly asked him: “Why can’t you be more like the Kennedy boys?” (6). Yes, his parents were referring to THE Kennedys, the ones who once occupied the White House and Attorney General’s office at the same time.  Cain talks about how such questions or demands of an introverted child can cause “deep psychic pain” (6). I have to agree. I remember being constantly prepped or prodded by my mother in social situations to smile more or to speak with the oration abilities of Abraham Lincoln.  Some of my worst memories are when I would not succeed in putting on the Extrovert Ideal in public, and at home I would be berated for not speaking up, not answering an important adult’s questions, for not standing correctly, or for not engaging myself enough socially.

I eventually figured out how to do so.  Beauty pageants actually were the impetus.  I wanted so badly to be a pageant winner from the time I was in third grade.  We had moved to a small town in which the local pageant was the highlight of the year, and the first time I saw it I knew I would be on that stage someday.  Yet, once I started competing at age 17, I quickly realized that I did not have the sparkly personality or the “it” factor to win.  I had the talent because I had spent an hour a day at the piano for the last 10 years, and I had the right figure because I was genetically blessed and I ran cross country.  But, the interview portion of the pageant is the most important.  It is where you must convince the judges that you are personable, friendly, smart, and worthy.

So of course, I failed miserably in my first three pageants.  I tried to look the judges in the eyes and I tried to smile realistically.  I came across as an incredibly shy girl who wanted to win badly but didn’t have what it takes.  But, I finally broke through, pulled off pretending in a way that convinced people that I was suddenly outgoing, and I won.  Honestly, it was one of the happiest moments of my life because I had worked tirelessly for many years to get there.  I also learned about being a fake extrovert, and this skill has continued to serve me well in job interviews, social situations, and at the grocery store!

Cain also reveals that “many introverts are ‘highly sensitive’” (14).  I certainly was as a child. When I lived on a Native American reservation that had no running water, I came home from school crying every day because I felt so bad for the children who came to school unwashed, without shoes, and with hungry stomachs.  I had never before seen such poverty in my seven years of life, and it disturbed me greatly. We had moved from a sunny suburban neighborhood in San Jose, California, with a swimming pool, tree-lined streets, and friendly all-white neighbors to a trailer park in the scorching desert of southern Utah that lacked basic supplies for its downtrodden residents.  My heart bled for those children.

Speaking of children, tendencies of being introverted are apparent as early as four months old.  Children who respond by actively moving or shrieking to stimuli, such as a toy with sounds or lights, a popped balloon, or loud noises, are more likely to be introverts. They are more sensitive or “high-reactive” (100).  The scientist who discovered this “hypothesized that infants born with an especially excitable amygdala would wiggle and howl when shown unfamiliar objects—and grow up to be children who were more likely to feel vigilant when meeting new people” (102).

Now, I can’t remember what my girls did when they were tiny babies, but I suspect they are both introverts, although not to the same extreme that I was.  Cain gives some good advice for parenting an introverted child, but honestly this makes sense as good parenting to any child.  She quotes Jay Belsky, a psychology professor and child care expert, who says the ideal parent for a high-reactive child is “someone who ‘can read your cues and respect your individuality; is warm and firm in placing demands on you without being harsh or hostile; promotes curiosity, academic achievement, delayed gratification, and self-control; and is not harsh, neglectful, or inconsistent’”(113).  Like I said, and like Cain says, this is good advice for any parent.

Other interesting facts from Quiet include the idea that thin-skinned people really do have thinner skin.  Apparently, extroverts have thicker skin than introverts.  Additionally, introverts are reportedly better thinkers when it comes to thinking before they speak. Cain highlights how this can be a good quality in negotiations or in creativity.  She debunks the myth of group work leading to more productive results.  It never does.  This is something I’ve suspected and hoped was true for a long time. I hate working in groups, because I’m an introvert.  I would much rather be alone brainstorming, thinking, and reading when it comes to a project or problem.

Cain goes on to highlight the cultural differences between Americans and Asians.  Generally, Asians prize introverted behavior and Americans reward extroverted behavior.  One Stanford University cultural psychologist, Heejung Kim, wrote “a paper arguing that talking is not always a positive act” (186).  I couldn’t agree more.

Now, if you are an introvert too, but you pretend to be extroverted for a job or a social life or just to cope in general, Cain mentions that it is important to have a restorative niche, an idea and term thought up by a beloved Harvard professor, Brian Little.  He has a larger-than-life personality in the classroom, but he’s an introvert who acts gregarious in public to be successful.  He uses restorative niches to calm himself, recharge, and de-stress.  Cain also advises that if your career is too stressful for your personality, you shouldn’t be afraid to change your life.  She suggests going back to what you wanted to be when you were a child or what you loved when you were a child.  Often, we knew more about ourselves then than we do now.

I’ve often been told by extroverts that they thought I was stuck up because I didn’t talk much.  I think this is a common perception of quiet people, but for me it is completely untrue.  I’ve always been too anxious to talk to a new person freely, too self-doubting to let go and become the life of the party, and too quiet to make myself heard over those who can speak out with ease.  If you’re an extrovert, stop judging introverts.  Don’t think that they are sitting quietly and smug in the knowledge that they are somehow better than you.  They aren’t.  They are experiencing social anxiety and self-doubt.  Give them a break!

Lastly, Cain’s best advice is this: “The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting.  For some it’s a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamp lit desk” (264).  I appreciate these words of wisdom.  I do prefer a lamp lit desk or a book over being on a stage or socializing.  Sometimes, I berate myself for not being more outgoing or sociable or for not having the personality that seems to be prized by our loud and demonstrative culture.  This book has given me some much-needed confidence in my temperament and in who I am and who I have always been.  I don’t need to pretend to be somebody I’m not, and neither do you.

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119 thoughts on “It’s Okay to Be an Introvert: A Review of Susan Cain’s Quiet

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  1. Good review! Reflecting on the beginning of your post, my wife expressed a similar desire — for a day by herself — so I arranged it for her birthday. My 6yo went for a sleepover with some friends and I took my 3yo to stay the night at another friend’s house, then I took the kids to church the next day and we came home around noon.

    Perhaps you could ask for that next year. We called it 24 HOURS OF SOLITUDE.

  2. Did Cain also point out that college profs are next to truck drivers as the professions with the most introverts? People think that because we’re talking in front of a crowd, we must be extroverts. But we’re not. Teaching is not the same as social interaction.

    I also was accused of being stuck-up when I was in junior high–because I was not talkative.

    I have been pretending to be an extrovert for over 30 years now. There’s nothing wrong with pretending–your example of pretending to be Miss America was great. I always thought of the song from The King and I–“Whistle a Happy Tune,” which basically states that if you pretend you’re not afraid, soon enough you won’t be. It works.

    1. Ah, yes. The King and I song. I sing that one in my head a lot! And yes, I think Cain did mention college professors, or academics as she put it, as a profession that attracts a lot of introverts.

      1. “Cain did mention college professors, or academics as she put it, as a profession that attracts a lot of introverts” – that’s really interesting because I am an introvert (my personality type in INFJ) and I am aspiring to an academic career. I find academia very comforting.

  3. Happy Birthday!

    What a thoughtful and thought-provoking review. I can understand your desire for peace. I remember once winning a radio competition for a cleaner (never materialised, but that’s another story!) and when the DJ asked me what I would be doing with the extra hours spared from cleaning the house I said ‘reading a book’. There was a pause and then a ‘Right, er, OK.’

    I can also empathise with the belief that people think you’re stuck up if you’re quieter. At uni, several people said ‘Why are you judging me?’ just when I was sat quietly doing nothing but minding my own business. I think that says more about their insecurities but it annoyed me at the time.

    It’s odd because my husband doesn’t tend to talk as easily to people in new situations whereas I will always try to make an effort to welcome people and make them feel comfortable. But if there is ever an invite to a social gathering, he’s raring to go whereas I would rather be at home! It’s strange how sometimes introvertedness comes out in different ways.

    By the way your daughter is beautiful. What a treasure (even when she is naughty!) 😉

    1. Thank you! I love your radio host story. How funny. Yes, we introverts aren’t very exciting. I love listening to call-in radio on NPR, but I would never ever call in. Too much pressure. And yes, being an introvert does come out in different ways. Cain mentions that being an introvert doesn’t mean you are shy. I guess that’s a whole different thing, but sometimes they go hand in hand.

  4. Amen! My husband and I (both introverts) have often observed that being an introvert in America seems to place one in a minority status that is often discriminated against. At my first job after college, my supervisor – after praising the quality of my work and productivity – actually berated me for not being more extroverted and made it a mandated goal for future reviews (although the job involved sitting at a desk entering information into a computer). Ultimately, that job didn’t last very long (thankfully). Like members of other minorities, I think we introverts need to band together and celebrate the strengths of our personality type – just perhaps separately in our own rooms.

  5. This was a great post and review Emily – thank you! I must check this out as well. Not an introvert by nature I am one of those in between people happiest when alone with a book but equally craving company at times. As a parent though, I constantly wonder whether the amount of prodding I am doing is hurting or helping my kids – so something to be aware of is that their personalities may be different from me. Loved your toddler’s antics – I know it is exhausting to be a busy toddler’s mom from first hand experience of course but also – the days fly by so enjoy them!

    1. Thanks! As a mom, it is hard to realize that your children might think differently than you. I need to work on this with my seven-year-old. Prodding them is hard not to do, but I think in moderation they need some or they would never do their homework or brush their teeth. Thanks for your great comments!

  6. First, Happy Birthday!! Second, this is great. I watched a talk with the author about a month ago with my introvert husband and we really liked what she had to say. I am in between being an introvert and anextrovert, but my husband is absolutely introverted. I read a book called The Introvert Advantage several years ago, which was a great book that helped me understand my husband so much better. I am an absolute convert who believes that introverts will take over the world one of these days in their thoughtful, quiet way. 🙂 Thanks for a thoughtful post and again HAPPY BIRTHDAY! By the way, your little girl is absolutely precious!

    1. Thank you! I have not seen the author talk, but I want to now after having a few comments about it. I will have to give The Introvert Advantage a try, too. I hadn’t heard of that one.

  7. I, too,l have been called out for being an introvert. About a year ago, I was accused of being “snotty,” by an acquaintance. I knew this person well enough that I responded thusly, “Just because I think before I speak does not mean I am stuck up. It means I am thoughful and have self control.” This person has since accused me of being a “kiss ass” because I use please and thank you in regular conversation (she was raised in a mannerless household), but she’s not attacked my reserved personality since. Nothing shuts an extrovert up faster than turning the situation around and labeling all friendly, outgoing people as tactless clods who don’t think before they speak. I learned this technique from listening to political pundits on NPR and CNN.

    Happy Birthday, big sis! I’ve always admired your thoughtful personality and I hope you have a fantastically quiet and uneventful day!

    1. I love that you can speak up for yourself. I still haven’t mastered that art. And thinking before you speak is definitely better than going around accusing people of ridiculous things. So far, the birthday is quiet!

  8. Hmmm… Fascinating post. Gets me thinking… In public, anyone would peg me as an extrovert. In private, nooooo… I am very comfortable with myself and enjoy my own company, and lots of it. And I agree with Sylvia when she said that ‘teaching is not the same as social interaction.” Speaking in front of a crowd, large or small, is actually kind of fun for me. I was an entertainer for years.
    I do miss having little ones around, (am writing for them now) having raised four kids and always worked where there were kids around. However, I sure remember how being Mom can get stressful at times. I wish I were there to watch her put the diaper on her head, etc…
    Thanks for the book review.
    As an aside – I’m watching swallows, quail, scrub jays, starling, flicker. robin and hummingbird have a party in the front yard this morning and I sure wish I could share all this with a child. 😉

    1. Children do make the wonders of the world seem more important. There is so much to share with them, and seeing them discover it is priceless. It sounds like you are either a fake extrovert, or just good at both.

  9. First of all – Happy Birthday to you! I hope you get some quiet, relaxing time for yourself!
    Anyway, I just wanted to say that I love your blog posts. They always make me reflect on my own life. I wrote a long comment about how amazing I think you are and how different we are – and yet we still got along (which is pretty cool). I won’t post the whole thing because it was really long (and deep)- but I discussed how I always looked up to you (and was even a little jealous) because you were more beautiful, talented, intelligent, and motivated. I still remember going to that first pageant together, and I didn’t doubt you for a minute when you said one day that would be you up on the stage. I dreamed with you of how wonderful that would be, but I didn’t consider myself talented enough or beautiful enough. Quite honestly I didn’t have the same means or opportunities either (but don’t worry, I was okay with that). But what is interesting to me, is I consider myself an Extrovert. I’ve always had an easy time talking to people (even adults), I’ve never felt a hint of worry about going to the grocery store (in fact that excited me) and I love feeling like the center of attention. I wouldn’t say I was a fake extrovert – I think I’m a real extrovert, but what’s interesting is that despite that fact, I still struggled with confidence and self-esteem. I don’t know quite how to put this into words, but sometimes I think extroverts are loud and outgoing because we have a different way of covering up insecurities. I’m glad the book you read gave you confidence regarding your temperament and who you are – because you’re wonderful just the way you are!

    1. Ah, thanks! I agree that you are an extrovert, but I like how you point out that extroverts have insecurities too. Being “out there” doesn’t mean you are confident or stuck up either. I always admired how much ease you had in social situations. I was jealous of your ability to just laugh and let loose. I guess we both just needed, and still need, to be happy with who we are and make the best of that. Great comments. Thanks!

  10. I applaud your being at peace with who you are. I hope someday to say the same, but then I’m not sure if it’s a static proposition either. I find myself introverted with some groups and extroverted with others. I usually have more fun in the latter situation, but the former happens much more frequently.
    Maybe I am an extrovert trapped in an introverted shell. 🙂

    Too much introversion is not healthy, though, I think. The gospel teaches us to get outside ourselves more, not withdraw. That has always been a challenge and requires extra effort for me, but almost always feels rewarding when accomplished.

    Extroversion as defined by merely loud or unguarded behavior is obviously not virtuous in itself. But Extroversion defined as an ability to connect with others well is something both good and desirable to develop in oneself. Some have it more naturally, some not as much.

    Good food for thought as regards our children, though. Thanks for that, I need to remember that they are not me. Seems obvious, but …

    Daphne is a doll. 🙂 Happy Birthday!

    1. Great defense of extroversion. It isn’t bad either, but I wish that both qualities were prized in our culture. I think as I get older I am more like what you described about yourself. I enjoy being with friends in a smaller group and if they are people I am comfortable with. Large, new groups scare me and I tend to clam up. But being with friends is always fun. And I am getting better at it. I think that is the key to what you were saying. We need to extend our abilities, no matter what they are. That is how we learn and grow.

  11. Love this post, if you own the book I’d love to borrow it. I think I’m naturally an introvert, but I’m pretty good at pretending I’m not. It takes a while for me to get to know people and be comfortable around them, but once I do I’m not shy.

    I think there’s a big difference between being shy and being quiet. I’m not the type to dominate a conversation or work a party, but I’ll speak up and participate if there’s a pause or I have something to contribute. On the opposite side of the spectrum, take my in-laws (all of them). I tend not to say much at family events because everyone else is vying for the spotlight and interrupting each other to make their points. They all think I’m terribly shy, but I just don’t feel the need to compete for air time. 🙂

    Hope you’re having a fantastic birthday with that adorable little tornado!

    1. She’s definitely a tornado! I don’t own the book. I just got it at the library. It does make the distinction, as did you, of a difference between shy and introverted. You can be both, but you don’t necessarily have to be shy just because you are introverted. I guess shyness tends to be a result of shame, which is a whole other psychological discussion.

  12. Oh Em, your Daphne story had me laughing out loud. I could hear your frustration, and your absolute love. She is beautiful.

    I don’t really know which group I fall into. I think I have to agree with Jeanne, I am introverted with some groups and extroverted with others. But due to the amount of ‘close’ friends I have, I think I am most often introverted. (I find when I try to be more outgoing, I end up making a fool of myself and berating myself for weeks over some strange thing I said.) I do find that the people I feel most comfortable around are quiet, calm and thoughtful. I think introverts are very good listeners and make loyal, sweet friends. They give very good advice and speak from the heart. They are also very honest, even if they know it’s not what you want to hear. I trust them.

    I enjoyed this review. I’d never heard of this book, and I’m interested in reading it. Thanks!

    And HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

    1. Thank you! I would definitely say you are an introvert. Even when you are extroverted, you don’t make a fool of yourself, you just think that you do. Stop berating yourself! You are just perfect the way you are. You are all those qualities you listed of a good “introverted” friend!

  13. Popular post! I thought the book was extremely interesting and I connected with a lot of what she said. I can’t wait to hear what everyone else thinks of it.

    Happy Birthday, and I completely understand your toddler tiredness. We should never get our girls together. The results could be disastrous!

  14. There are so many things that I could say about this post, but first, Happy Birthday!
    Your daughter is adorable, but I’m going to make an educated guess that you already knew that.
    Out of simple curiosity, may I ask why you lived on a reservation when you were seven?
    This book sounds great, I’m going to have to add it to my list. I was a very shy child and, alone, is still one of my favorite ways to spend my time, unfortunately, liking to be alone isn’t very socially acceptable, so like you said, I have to pretend to be the exuberant, outgoing person, that I’m not. In my current occupation being super friendly and outgoing is a must, and don’t get me wrong, I really do like people (most of the time), but it’s just so tiring to have to wear a mask all of the time. That’s probably why I like writing so much, I can think before I speak, be myself, and relax. Unfortunately, in today’s competitive world, even writing has to be a socially active arena in order to get anywhere.
    For the record, I also despise working in groups! It’s uncomfortable and unproductive, in my opinion.
    Great post, thanks for sharing!
    God Bless,
    Donna

    1. Thank you! I think her adorableness is one of the reasons we forgive her so often. 🙂 I lived on the reservation after my parents divorced. My mom remarried and her new husband got a job at the high school there. I am sorry you have to wear a mask all day. I am sure you pull it off beautifully, but it probably gets so tiring. I loved Cain’s part about restorative niches. They are a must!

  15. joyeux anniversaire Emily! I loved your post, I would tell you, being a mother of three children who are adolescent now, : “hang in there”! they will soon grow out of childhood..and you will be so nostalgic…
    As to being introverted or extroverted Sénèque said (4-before J-C) “It is not because things are too hard that we don’t dare, it’s because we don’t dare do them that they are difficult..” The quote is in french and I translated it. In french it’s “Ce n’est pas parce que les choses sont difficiles que nous n’osons pas, c’est parce que nous n’osons pas qu’elles sont difficiles”. I love your blog. I envy you to be able to write the way you do!

    1. I guess someday I will miss their little arms around my neck. It is just so hard sometimes! Thank you for your kind words and the great quote. I envy your multilingual abilities. I wish I could speak French. My January ancestors came from France in the early 1700s. Thanks for reading!

      1. it’s not multilingual.. just bilingual! and I don’t master either one properly! So your name is Emilie Janvier! 🙂

  16. Thanks for writing such a thoughtful review. I’ve read a few reviews for this book, but yours is the first that makes me want to read it myself. I’m an introvert, too, and I like the author’s suggestions of putting yourself in the right sort of lighting, whatever it is. I think we introverts tend to shy away from those stage lights and then find ourselves a little embarrassed by our own reticence – at lease I am! If this book encourages us to accept and work within our temperament, than it sounds like solid advice to me.

    You didn’t mention it directly in your post, but your daughter seems to be quite the extravert. My little girl is a live wire, too, and it can be draining for introverted parents when they have extraverted children, as wonderful as they are. What coping strategies have you found for filling the well so you have enough energy for her? My chief ones are reading and knitting during my little pockets of alone time, but I’d love to hear your strategies.

    1. Yes, she is quite lively, as was my older daughter at this age. Yet, surprisingly, I think they are both introverts. I guess we will see. I am definitely a reader to fill my bucket, but I also look forward to nap time. When college is in session, I teach a few courses as an adjunct, and that gets me rejuvenated and rested for a few hours each week. I love the intellectual stimulation, despite the fact that teaching can feel somewhat extroverted, but I love interacting with students. Thanks for your comments!

  17. First of Happy Birthday!

    Thank you for your post. This helped me embrace the fact that I am an introvert. As a communication instructor I find that I am expected to be an extrovert and show my passions by being talkative, and always interacting with students. I love the interaction with all my students, and I do realize that I am an extrovert in the classroom, but an introvert in my social life with friends. I like to think about what I want to say before saying it. A lot of people confuse me for being too quiet, but I am really an observer then I speak. But I am actually glad I can be both whereever it calls, but I like being more of introvert because this is who i have been. Really good post and a book I hope to purchase.

  18. This is great! I read the book too and when I saw the title of this post I had to read it. It’s refreshing to hear tales of fellow introverts. Especially from those went to high school with! I could really relate to the setting. I got the stuck up comment a lot, and thanks to the Mr. UBIC pageant, your pageant stories even struck a familiar chord. However, I gave up after one failed attempt and the only thing funny about my performances in the interview and joke telling portions of the competition was the awkwardness of my style and of my brevity.

    I got a lot out of this book as a parent. It has really helped me to understand my children. It is interesting to observe my twins and see one who is a high sensitive child and the other who is low sensitive. Considering our efforts in treating them equally and my personal experiences growing up, I am convinced that there is something genetic and biological that plays a major factor in whether one is an introvert or an extrovert. I now know what activities my high sensitive child is more likely to excel in, and after seeing him persist in running a long distance because he knew he was being timed, after his low sensitive twin had given up, I think he’s got a future in running. Here’s to hoping extroverts learn to respect us for who we are.

    1. Thanks for reading! That is so interesting that one of your twins is high sensitive and one is low sensitive. I guess you just never know. My husband and I are both introverts, and our two girls are definitely more outgoing than we are, but I still suspect they are introverts, at least when it comes to certain social situations, and that’s okay. I don’t think I attended the Mr. UBIC pageant when you competed, but I am sure you did just fine. I always thought you were a nice, smart, competent guy. I knew you were quiet, but so was I so I didn’t ever think that was a bad thing. I think we introverts tend to focus too much on our mistakes and the way we perceive others to view us rather than our successes.

  19. First, happy birthday. I’m a May baby too, (the 8th).
    Second, I love this: “Today is my birthday, and if I could choose to do whatever I wanted, I would choose to be alone with a book all day.”
    It’s exactly what I did on my birthday. I’ve come to learn that sometimes a quite night at home reading is much more fulfilling than a rambunctious fast-paced night out on the town. Also, I really enjoy your voice!

    1. Thank you for the birthday wishes and the compliment. I am glad you read my post. It looks like we have something in common! Books are my dearest friends, and definitely more accepting and relaxing than a large crowd.

      1. This is true. I find that if someone doesn’t like books or food…they’re really just not worthing talk to!
        As the author of one of my favorite books was once quoted saying, “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. You just have to get people to stop reading them.”

  20. Thanks for posting this! I have been meaning to get this book for a while and now having read your review I definitely will. I saw her TED talk and thought she was great. And how wonderful to have someone championing us introverts for a change! Your daughter is very cute and that is an extremely mischevious grin!

  21. Emily, happy birthday. I just found your blog recently through Freshly Pressed. Much of what you say rings true for me too. I seem to have raised rather similar children (2 out of 3 anyway – youngest is definitely an extrovert). We listened to this Julian Smith song one day in silence, then each one said, with quiet surprise, “That is exactly how I feel.” Me too. The huffiness, sense of injustice, and sometimes sheer rage when someone intrudes on your quiet reading time. Here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BuRuwR2JSXI

  22. I’m really fond of your posts, Emily! Firstly, belated Happy Birthday and I hope you enjoyed your day by yourself! It is easy for me to laugh out loud at your description of your daughter, but maybe when I’ll be a mom I’ll understand! Your daughter is adorable! So yea I’m also caught in between being an extrovert and an introvert. There is a bunch of people who think I am very expressive and cannot stop talking. But there is also a whole lot who think I’m really shy and don’t talk much! Anyway I’m good with that, I get to be in both worlds! Great post 🙂

  23. Thanks for the post. I’m neurotically introverted. I’m the guy at the party who hides when the Karaoke machine is dragged out. I’m the guy who pretends to text, to avoid interaction. Yay! Being an intro in an extro world can be hellish, but it can also be freeing. I can amuse myself; I don’t need to be passively amused. You won’t find me me complaining of boredom.

  24. Hello,

    I found your blog on Freshly Pressed and have enjoyed your posts, especially this one. I have heard of Cain’s book but now, after reading your review, want to borrow it from the library. I’m number 27; it’s a popular title!

    I’m glad Naomi raised the parenting question above. I’ve been curious if introverts 1) desire to parent and 2) how they cope with the challenges of social interactions with other parents, school, etc. Your little girl is lovely.

    Thanks for the review and have a happy Friday 🙂

    1. Thank you for all of the nice compliments! As to parenting, the book, as far as I can remember, did not address your questions. It seemed to focus more on introverts in careers. I still think it is worth the read (and the wait at the library!) Let me know what you think once you get a chance to read it. Thanks for reading!

  25. This book has been on my to-read list for a little while, and I mean that in a “it’s in my head because I forget to write it down” sort of way. The list grows much faster than my free time. But I, like you, consider myself an introvert. Don’t want to read your review until I’ve read it, but it’s funny because I clicked based on the intriguing title and then saw the cover and recognized it. Wondering if I’m the only person who does that or not?

  26. Hi, I got here via truth and cake, I love your writing and I am also a introverted parent of a toddler! Wanted to comment before managing to make it through your whole post (was called away by crying toddler!) so will return later to finish!!!!

  27. Hi Emily — I also come from Truth and Cake. I watched Susan Cain’s TED talk about introverts and absolutely loved it! I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on her book and can relate to a lot of your stories. Thanks for sharing! I may have to check out the book too!

    1. I’m glad you stopped by. Do read the book. It expands all of her TED talk ideas, and I dare say is better than the talk. But, it is hard to convey all of the information she had into seventeen minutes, so that isn’t a criticism. Let me know if you end up reading it! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  28. My mother always described me as “being a quiet baby”. I grew up to be a rather quiet adult, so I agree that introversion appears from a very young age. I agree that there’s nothing wrong with being an introvert – I think the world would be a better place if the all extroverts stopped talking and listened a bit longer.
    Sometimes I’m quiet because of shyness; other times I’m tired, stressed, want my own space or just don’t have anything to say. Around close friends you won’t notice that there’s an introversion issue, but in larger groups and with people I don’t know you can see it fairly clearly. It usually requires a strong effort on my part to act extroverted (“Alright, today at this training I am going to be a chatty person.”), though I’m slowly getting the hang of it.
    Thanks for posting this and reminding me that it’s OK to be what I am.

  29. I saw her TED talk and could not agree more.Sometimes at work it seems impossible to think of something creative and good in a group.
    That is wonderful to know she has a book as well. (:

  30. Agree, agree, and agree. I’m of a mind that the quiet one are the fascinating one – the ones who you just know are conjuring the ideas that could change the world, and doing so with great care. Though I’m glad you’ve stepped out for a bit to tell us what you’re thinking. 😉

    1. Thank you! I agree that quiet people are fascinating, and along those lines, I am always more impressed when I find out something noteworthy about a quiet person from another source. Thanks for reading!

  31. Great review, especially your parting comments: ‘This book has given me some much-needed confidence in my temperament and in who I am and who I have always been. I don’t need to pretend to be somebody I’m not, and neither do you.’

    I’m currently half way through ‘Quiet’ and have already proclaimed it to be the most empowering book I’ve ever read. Finally, I am grateful for my introversion, rather than berating myself for it. It’s powerful to know that other people are having this epiphany, too.

    1. Thank you! I am glad you are reading it and finding it empowering. It’s funny how we tend to give ourselves permission to be who we are when somebody else tells us that it’s okay. I guess the next part of my journey is to be able to tell myself that!

  32. Thank you for this post, you have sold me on reading the book. My son (14) is extremely introverted and I always felt like he was missing out on the important events of growing up. I’ve often punished myself for not being “out there” especially in the professional world. My pet peeve-It seems like my friends always skip the big things in my life (baby showers, wedding shower, b-day parties, etc) which hurts me even more for them not caring (would still like a friend or small group of friends to celebrate).

  33. I have tried to make my extroverted friends understand the anxiety it produces for me just to make a phone call, to approach someone in the hallway at church and talk to them, to go to a party, to invite someone over for dinner… and if it doesn’t seem to go well then I will be much less likely to gather enough nerve to do it again anytime soon… but they don’t get it. They think I’m boring and I think they’re loud and rude. So I guess we’re even.

    I can relate to your love of pageants. I didn’t do pageants, but I loved acting. When I was onstage as another person I could overcome that anxiety for a while. It was a great outlet for me, being someone else, doing things I would never dare do as myself. I acted all through high school and even still I find myself acting a part depending on what’s required of me to fill a role. Another outlet for me is writing. I can express myself through writing without any anxiety (does the book explain why this is?). I can even write a talk for church and give the talk without much anxiety at all. But saying a prayer or sharing a testimony in front of a large group gives me cold sweats because it’s not written down first and involves me sharing part of myself with people who may reject me.

    Thanks for this post, it helped me feel validated. I will definitely be reading this book.

    1. Ha! Loud and rude. So true sometimes. I feel the same way about talks. If I can write it and then read it, I’m good. I am even considered to be “good” at giving talks, when the truth is I am just good at writing, not public speaking! I like that you brought up acting. I think there are many ways for introverts to “overcome” their fears or at least pretend not to have them for a while.

      1. Yep, that’s me, too! I have a lot of people fooled, especially those who know me mainly from facebook or email correspondence. I can write. But in person I may fall a little flat sometimes:)

    2. Amy–most of my girl friends and family prefer phone calls to emails and I have to ‘gird up my loins’ before making a phone call. I hate talking on the telephone.

      It was finally my turn at the library for Quiet this week and I hope to start reading it over the weekend.

  34. I have two kids in their early twenties. My daughter I knew was an introvert but my son I did not. Imagine my surprise when my son informed me I had him pegged wrong! There are so many stereotypes about introverts and I fell victim to more than a few.He has great social skills, lots of friends and can speak to a crowd but he is an introvert. Boy was my face red!

  35. Goodness, this was so refreshing to read! A couple of weeks ago, I was at a floor meeting in my dorm playing “Two Truths and a Lie”; one of my truths was the statement that I’m an introvert. Another girl from my floor immediately said something to the effect of, “Oh, I’ll change that by the end of the year!” It bothers me when people say things like that because it implies that there’s something wrong with an introverted person. There’s not. It’s just a different personality type that doesn’t get enough limelight because that’s not what it wants.

    1. Yes, exactly! There’s nothing wrong with us. There’s something wrong with a culture that values one over the other. Both are useful! Don’t change. Have fun in college and let it change you for the better, but don’t let it change who you really are.

  36. I’m reading this book now and absolutely loving it! As an introvert, it’s so nice to know that there’s nothing wrong with me. I’m happiest when I’m alone at a coffee shop with a steeping hot cup of black coffee (with cinnamon sprinkled on top) and my lap top. Writing and reading = pure joy. However, I am also studying to be an actor, and although I’m an introvert… when I get up on stage and start working on a piece I can become very extroverted. The same thing happens when I’m talking about a topic that I’m passionate about. There was a section near the beginning of the book where she explained how extroverts generally start conversations with small talk, while introverts tend to finish it. Introverts much prefer to talk about topics that mean a lot to them. This made so much sense to me and was a major aha moment for me. She also talked about how introverts can become pseudo-extroverts when they’re engaged in something they’re passionate about. I’m passionate about acting, so it makes sense that I’m able to go almost against type when I’m doing it. However, after a day on set I NEED to go somewhere quiet to regain my peace.

    This book has cleared up so much for me. And there’s still more left to enjoy.
    Great review by the way!

    If you liked this book, I have a recommendation for you. It’s called “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.” It’s probably one of my favourite books this year. Filled with fascinating information and stories. I think you would really enjoy it.

    1. I love how you are connecting it to yourself, especially with the acting. I am an introvert too, but I love being in front of students in a college classroom. It seems counterintuitive, but yes, we can be pseudo-extroverts and get energy from extroverted situations. I will check out that other book. Thanks!

  37. It’s been a while since you posted but what the hey. I tend to think that America as a country favors extroversion. Australia on the other hand has this weird thing called ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’ where we like to cut down those who appear to be doing well and in some ways that pegs back extroverts to a degree. It’s been interesting to see the change that has occurred the company I work for over the last year. We have a new CEO and I’m an introvert but quite a high achiever and I’ve found it difficult with a the CEO who has many really good gifts related to an extroverted personality and making contact with clients to make the shift to a more prominent role. I find that I really enjoy working behind the scenes to make a difference and derive pleasure from knowing the value I contribute even if clients don’t see it. But the company focus recently has shifted to letting the clients know the value (partly due to the GFC) because they tended to undervalue us. For some reason I find it much harder to frame my contribution in terms of observable value (even though it is the same) than hidden introverted value add. Don’t know why but it’s an observation I’m currently working through myself.

    1. That is fascinating! Yes, Americans certainly prize extroversion. Tall Poppy Syndrome seems both good and bad. It certainly sounds like an interesting workplace culture. Thanks for commenting!

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