Everything that Susan Cain says resonates deeply with the way I should be. I’m not saying she gives me a sense of grief over the person I am; I’m actually saying that she gives permission to be uniquely me, and permission to fit into this character and shape that I already am. Susan Cain gives me more grace than I typically give myself.
Susan talks about introversion. By true meaning, an introvert is someone who gains energy from quiet spaces, small groups, and one-on-one interaction. Introversion is not shyness; however, it can cause or take the form of shyness. She also says that no one is a full introvert or a full extrovert; simply put, we all land somewhere between the large, gray space of both.
I just so happen to be a person who is comfortable in front of groups or when meeting strangers. I sing in front of others at church, I welcome people coming through the door, and I open up my thought closet to those who ask. But, I long for the moments where I relax on a beach with a book, sit quietly in the car, or share a deep, real conversation with just one other person. Large crowds make me anxious and irritable, and those ‘people-priers’ who talk often seem to drain my quickly. Susan Cain serves up heapings of grace for this “unbalanced” way of living.
But Susan doesn’t simply serve grace or see it as an imbalance. Susan, an introvert herself, sees introversion for its true beauty. You see, when an introvert has just a few moments of quiet, relaxed, alone space, great things of creativity begin to pour out. When an introvert gives themselves room to think and breathe on their own, ideas, questions, thoughts, and love spill over.
Now, extroverts certainly have mountains of ideas and thoughts on their own, but they find them in larger groups, crowds, and loads of energy. In this busy-busy world we live in, extroverts tend to get a reputation of loners who play it safe or live like hermits. Introverts hardly have room to pee in the quiet, let alone read, sleep, study, sing, or think. Susan just reminds me how important it is to me, my family, my husband (especially my husband), my co-workers, my friends, and my world—that I take the time to be an introvert. Certainly, and absolutely imperative, there is a time for community and collaboration; but the community and collaboration fail when you fail to nurture the person you are by nature.
Susan also says,
“Introverts: you being you, you probably have the impulse to guard very carefully what’s inside your own suitcase, and that’s okay; but occasionally, just occasionally, I hope you open up your suitcases for other people to see because the world needs you and it needs the things you carry. So I wish you the best of all possible journeys and the courage to speak softly.”
Go ahead and be who you are. If you need help with that, I’m sure it’s out there; but never settle for anything other than the greatness of who you are inside and out.
P.S. I love TED