This has been probably the one review I’ve been most intimidated to write for the longest time, and it’s not because Susan Cain’s “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” isn’t a strongly asserted and powerful work. I could sing its respective praises for days. The fact of the matter is – this book really hit me at the heart of my core for so many measures in my life as an introvert. I find it hard to expound just how much this book had an impact on me personally.
I could tell you about many things about my person that embody me as an introvert. That I’m quiet spoken and don’t speak unless I have something important to say. That small talk isn’t something I’m comfortable that I’m not fond of confrontations (though many of you have read my extended written rants about various matters of controversy with very little hesitation). That I tend to spend time alone to recharge my batteries even when I’m called to do things in any scale of extroversion. That my emotional intelligence is very high and I can sympathize/emphathize with people for matters of their experience (though this also makes me highly sensitive).
For most of my life, I’ve been told that these very natural matters of my disposition were wrong. And goodness forbid did that make my life complicated because I didn’t feel like people understood who I was. I was even led to believe that I was actually shy, not introverted (many people confuse the two, there is a difference.) Yet the more I learned about the dynamic of introversion and extroversion and how they functioned, I realized that the fundamental difference between them were the derived sources of energy that one functions with in day to day living. That there’s nothing wrong with being introverted versus extroverted in a society that – in mainstream notations, champions the latter.
This book had me thinking for days after I finished it.
I liked that Cain’s narrative focuses on the positive contributions and the inherent strengths that lie in introversion because it’s widely stereotyped. That stereotyping actually harms our society more than we ourselves may realize in the daily grind, not just individually. By trying to mold people into one acceptable standard, we often lose out on what unique strengths and contributions one may have from going away from such a standard. Narratives like “Quiet” have relevance not just in recognizing the distinct psychological functions and differences we have as individuals, but also in the relationships and contributions we have in our professions, our activities, and even wider perceptions of our society in general.
I appreciated the expansion on famous figures like Rosa Parks in terms of her backstory and identity as an introvert and how that shaped her responses (I’ll have to pick up “Quiet Strength” at some point). I also appreciated hearing Cain’s own struggles with coming to terms with her introversion, and even the story of the Harvard Business student. There are so many individual stories in this narrative and Cain gives a thorough examination of the details within. It’s amazing just how much work and thought went into expounding these issues and individual narratives. This narrative examines introversion not only as a social construct, but individual – delving into narratives of biological, psychological, and sociological importance. There’s an examination on the level of intorversion among different cultures, how introspection is valuable to creativity versus “groupthink”, how extroversion and introversion are not mutually exclusive (and situations that call for each).
I came out of it all with not only a fresh perspective on how valuable introverts are to the fabric of society, but also a greater sense of self-worth for my own traits. And that’s something to be thankful for. My hope is that with more people who pick up “Quiet” and realize how important our individual attributes are, that it’ll provide for more opportunities to be creative and to value each other in our relationships regardless of differences, for our unique strengths regardless of how their expressed or from where they come.
Overall score: 5/5 stars