Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hurray for Introverts!

Remember when Peter Finch urged his TV newscast viewers to open their windows and yell, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” in the 1976 movie Network? And viewers did it. They threw open windows and created a cacophonous chorus of the now-famous quote to show they were unhappy with the state of the world.

Finch’s character may have incited some introverts to action. But wait … Isaac Introvert bellowing into the night? Shy Sherry leaning out into her apartment courtyard to yell above dozens of neighbors’ yells? In a defiant stance on the fire escape, Quiet Quentin reverberating roars at escalating decibels? Unlikely. In my opinion, it’s more likely Finch simply gave extroverts a focus. His introverted viewers who were as mad as hell probably ran to an indoor window seat, made sure the window was locked, and curled up in the cushions to journal their feelings.

Apparently, now—36 years after the Network movie—introverts are finally getting mad enough about being overlooked and invisible that they are … yes, writing about it. Susan Cain’s book Quiet was heralded in a February 6, 2012, TIME magazine article, “The Upside of Being an Introvert,” by Bryan Walsh, who began with his own story of taking refuge in a bathroom when an obligatory schmoozing event became too much. After giving basic definitions (Introverts recharge their batteries with time alone, extroverts with social stimulation), Walsh went on to describe 21 famous people in introvert/extrovert terms.

Then Nara Schoenberg’s “Introverts Rising” appeared in the May 20, 2012, Chicago Tribune. She cited Cain’s book, as well as several others, and exposed society’s longtime assumption that introverts are failed extroverts and therefore, antisocial. Introverts she interviewed have stopped asking, “What’s wrong with me?” and have developed confidence in the relational strengths inherent in their more sensitive temperament.

Suddenly, introverts are in. A quick glance at reveals these resources, in no particular order:
Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength
By Laurie Helgoe, Ph.D.
The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World
By Marti Olsen Laney
The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength
By Jennifer B. Kahnweiler
Party of One: The Loner’s Manifesto
By Anneli S. Rufus
Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture
By Adam S. McHugh
Networking for People Who Hate Networking: A Field Guide for Introverts, the Overwhelmed, and the Underconnected
By Devora Zack
By Susan Cain
Introverts at Ease: An Insider’s Guide to a Great Life on Your Terms
By Nancy Okerlund
The Introvert’s Guide to Professional Success: How to Let Your Quiet Competence Be Your Career Advantage
By Joyce M. Shelleman, Ph.D.
The Successful Introvert: How to Enhance Your Job Search and Advance Your Career
By Wendy Gelberg
Confessions of an Introvert: The Shy Girl’s Guide to Career, Networking, and Getting the Most Out of Life
By Meghan Wier

Whew. Who knew? Eleven books here alone. I imagine more have been written, too. I’m feeling stronger already! As an introvert, I usually enjoy an unfrenzied pace and a fair amount of peace; I see this in my introverted friends as well. While the estimated 70 percent of the population parties, we quietly converse over coffee, one on one. On the other hand, we feel the pain of invisibility. Just the other day, I was telling the fish market man how much whitefish I wanted when another customer came up and ordered half a pound of shrimp. I thought, “What’s the matter with you? Words are coming out of our mouths here. Don’t you realize it’s not your turn?” Then I realized it was just the millionth time in my life when someone didn’t see me. And I didn’t take it in stride, like Chandler did in a Friends episode when he was being ignored and joked, “Let’s see, shall I use my invisibility for good or for evil?” Of course, I didn’t say anything to that customer. His rudeness stung. Certainly not as much as when extroverted friends ignore me, but still. Anyway, the other book I bought at Barnes & Noble [See June 6 post] the other day was Quiet, and doggone, I’m going to curl up in the cushions and read it!

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