The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World is a collection of Dembling’s blog posts about introversion. She talks about how introverts are different from extroverts, how we rub each other the wrong way, and how, with some understanding on both sides, we can all get along and thrive. It’s engaging, but she writes as the royal “we” which I found distracting. No one has the authority to speak for introverts as a group. Right, introverts? *crickets*
I loved how she cleared up some rather major misunderstandings that I’ve been running into my entire adult life, like this one: “When we want to, not-shy introverts can nut up to the task of being charming and witty. We can meet new people. We can start conversations and keep them rolling, and even draw shy people out, since we’re good at not getting up in anyone’s face and we’re patient listeners… Introverts who are not shy are used to being told that they could not possibly be introverts. This can be irritating, but think of it as a teachable moment.” pg 16-17
Dembling gives some concrete ways in which introverts can improve their social skills: “If you’re misinterpreted more often than not, you might need to give some thought to what your quiet is telling people. When you are sitting quietly, try to parse what kind of quiet you’re feeling. “Leave me alone” quiet is different from “thinking hard” quiet, which is different from “enjoying watching the scene” quiet, which is different from “I’m totally overwhelmed, get me out of here” quiet. Once you have a sense of what you want to project, consider your body language. pg 37 My husband has expressed to me, many times, that he can’t read my “quiet”. This can be problematic because when I’m upset, I withdraw completely and, if he’s not paying attention, he misses the whole thing. Maybe I should make some signs…
“…with our deep listening habits and our hyperawareness and sensitivity, introverts are particularly susceptible to being sucked into the vortex of other people’s demands and expectations, which can cause us to keep going long after we are completely drained of energy.” pg 55 This is a legit problem. I’m from a large family of extroverts and I’ve learned that I have to draw very clear boundaries to preserve my space. There’s an assumption that if I’m home that I’m not doing anything “important” and I should be willing to go out and do whatever it is that they’re doing. Annoying. I know that they do it out of love and the desire to make me feel included, but sometimes, most times really, I just want to be left alone.
This, just this: “Nine out of ten introverts agree: the telephone is the tool of the devil.” pg 64 End of story. I can never think of anything to say while I’m on the phone, but after I hang up, I think of ten million things I could have said. It’s a vicious cycle of terror and then regret. I’m over it.
Dembling’s “Affirmations for Introverts” are excellent. Here’s my favorite: “I know what I need better than anyone else.” pg 179
It was encouraging to read about how some of my major personality quirks, which I have always viewed as flaws, are not really stumbling blocks at all. It’s just how I interact with the world. I’m very fortunate in that my friends and family have accepted me for who I am, for the most part, and not pushed me to be someone that I’m not. I just wish that I had been more aware of what makes me happy and not been so hard on myself for so many years because I wasn’t an extrovert. I wish I was good at parties, made small talk with ease, or lit up a room with my mere presence, but I don’t. And, at long last I realize: that’s ok.
If you’re looking for more books on this topic, try The Power of Personality: How Introverts and Extroverts Can Combine to Amazing Effect by Sylvia Loehken or The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck: How to Stop Spending Time You Don’t Have with People You Don’t Like Doing Things You Don’t Want to Do by Sarah Knight (not necessarily a book on personalities, but I found it useful as a technique to manage my energy).
Thanks for reading!