“Jung knew the prejudice in western culture against the introverted. He could tolerate it when it came from the extraverted. But he felt that the introverted who undervalue themselves are truly doing the world a disservice.”
A note to self: Don’t let Carl down.
“Sometimes it helps to be a pretend-extrovert. There’s always time to be quiet later.”
This is followed by point number 8:
“But in the long run, staying true to your temperament is the key to finding work you love and work that matters.”
As someone who got pretty adept at being a pretend-extrovert, these points got me thinking about the price we have to pay for acting out of character and to what extent we do it. I suppose self-awareness is key. Knowing when to pretend and when to allow the natural self to take centre stage, and maintaining balance between them so that neither gets over saturated (I’ve yet to reach a point where I felt tired of solitude, but I guess that doesn’t mean it can’t happen).
But what if your job or lifestyle requires so much of you, that you have no choice but to become a pretend-extrovert so much that you slowly but surely lose touch with that sensitive part of yourself, and you struggle because it struggles to be heard and seen but is constantly suppressed and told that there’ll be time “later”, but “later” never comes, or comes only once in a while, and that’s not enough to recharge the self and soul?
The main source of my worry these days is because I have no wish to go back to being like that.
“Be assured: You’re not mentally ill. You’re not dangerous. Or weird. Or lacking in any way. You just like to be alone sometimes. You were born that way.”
From differentiating between introversion and shyness, to asserting why we should not think that introversion is better then extroversion (and vice versa) – this book is a good refresher to what I think I already know.
I first read about Brian Little in Susan Cain’s “Quiet“. Watching and listening to him speak, I can understand why his graduating classes at Harvard consistently vote him as “Favourite Professor”, year after year. He alludes his ability to act as an extrovert to the fact that he loves his students, he loves what he teaches and he is passionate about sharing his knowledge in his area of expertise. Typical introvert behavior, getting all pumped up when doing something of personal meaning and value. He might very well be an INFJ as well.
I will never forget the conversation I once had with a student who expressed immense surprise and disbelief when I told her I am not, by nature, outgoing or outspoken. I always knew I was acting out of character as a teacher, but her shock at my confession made me realize how convincing my persona might have been – and maybe that’s why I found myself living from weekend to weekend, only looking forward to the time of respite, when I could shed all efforts at existing and simply… be. I could totally feel Brian Little’s agony as he described trying to find a “restorative niche” after social events and people-meeting.
May this world be a kinder place to our species…
“Introverts may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while they wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.”
“The highly sensitive tend to be philosophical or spiritual in their orientation, rather then materialistic or hedonistic. They dislike small talk. They often describe themselves as creative or intuitive. They dream vividly, and can often recall their dreams the next day. They love music, nature, art, physical beauty. They feel exceptionally strong emotions- sometimes acute bouts of joy, but also sorrow, melancholy and fear. Highly sensitive people also process information about their environments – both physical and emotional- unusually deeply. They tend to notice subtleties that others miss- another person’s shift in mood, say, or a lightbulb burning a torch too brightly.”
Managed to finish this book while in Chiangmai. An interesting and identifying read. Started off wondering if this would be a book which “make excuses” for “anti-social” people, or a book which dismisses extroverts as the lesser species, fighting for more people to “be” introverted as the right way to go. But it did none of that. She simply asserts that everyone, as different individuals, have our own strengths and weaknesses, and uses concrete research data to advise on we should play to them. Our neurological make-up also plays an important role on determining our personalities. More than trying to out-do each other, we all need each other to do well, mentally, physically and emotionally.
And Susan Cain really amazed me with this talk at TED – It’s only 19 minutes; Worth a watch as she summarizes her book wonderfully.