I’ve always been very introverted. As a kid I prefered to play by myself, and as an adult I prefer to be by myself. It’s always been hard for me to act socially, and I’ve always felt like there’s something “wrong” with me because being outgoing not only doesn’t come naturally to me, but it’s downright exhausting to attempt it! I’ve always felt like being exuberant and social is something you’re supposed to be, and if you’re not then it’s something you’re missing that you need to work on.
Then a few months ago a friend recommended a book called “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain. I’ve been reading it very slowly (it’s a great book, I just have only been reading it while waiting in the car pick-up line!). This book has been such a revelation to me, and has made me feel much better about myself! I would highly recommend it to any introverted people!
I’m not finished with the book yet, but its main theme has been how Western society has an “extrovert ideal” that discounts the merits of introversion, and outlines the ways that introverted traits not only can be positive, but give advantages that extroverts don’t have. It’s also great at explaining how introverts and extroverts can have complementary relationships and how society (particularly emphasizing the business world) ought to structure itself to maximize the different strengths of different personalities, rather than uphold one ideal and too bad for those who naturally can’t live up to it.
Some of the positives of introversion are being better able to listen, think things through, make more calculated decisions, have more creative and innovative ideas, and take less risks.
I’m trying to apply these to my own life. Mostly it just makes me feel better about myself, that there’s nothing wrong with the way I am, it’s just not what society idolizes. So what, society doesn’t have its crap together anyway. I think really the main pro here is that I have the opportunity during my day to be able to think, be creative, and have more (relative!) control over the amount of stimulating input (including social situations). It might not directly apply to the job of mom-ing, but happy and sane moms are necessary! I don’t think there’s any way I could work full time… I’d be mentally exhausted when I came home and then there would be kid-chaos the rest of the day. My head would explode!
I often see people complain about the struggles of how isolating being a stay-at-home mom is, and so yeah, to me it’s a huge positive that I get to be at home and control my exposure to social situations! I rarely feel a need to “get out of the house.”
I certainly need down time at home and time alone where it’s relatively quiet to be with my brain, which would lead me to some of the cons of being an introverted mom (double-edged sword, I suppose). But that’s a post for another day?
P.S. And since it applies so much to this blog, here is an excerpt from Quiet:
“Studies have shown that, indeed, introverts are more likely than extroverts to express intimate facts about themselves online that their family and friends would be surprised to read, to say that they can express the “real me” online, and to spend more time in certain kinds of online discussions. They welcome the chance to communicate digitally. The same person who would never raise his hand in a lecture hall of two hundred people might blog to two thousand, or two million, without thinking twice. The same person who finds it difficult to introduce himself to strangers might establish a presence online and then extend these relationships into the real world.”