I have always held my hands up and admitted that I am happy in my own company but I will confess that when I was younger I always felt it was a negative trait. I just didn’t like being in big groups of people regularly and although I accepted this within myself I wasn’t sure that other people did. It wasn’t until Pat Parelli developed his horsenality theories where he talked about introverted and extroverted horses and the different approaches required that I realised I just simply was introverted. I decided recently to look into this further in relation to people as opposed to horses and read ‘Quiet,’ by Susan Cain.
The book describes introverts as highly sensitive, like to daydream, easily offended, keen observers, look before they leap, prefer to limit suprises, sensitive to light, sound, smells and pain, don’t like being observed, philosophical/spiritual, feel strong emotions, notice subtleties such as mood shifts in others, bored by small talk, highly empathic, feel what others feel… It was one of those books where I was nodding in agreement as I could recognise all of these traits not just in myself but in two of my children as well.
There were some really interesting points that struck me whilst reading. Notably:
A study of expert violinists discovered that the two best groups put in the same amount of hours as other groups but the difference that set them apart was that they practiced in solitude.
That open plan offices reduce productivity and impair memory and in addition make people sick, hostile, unmotivated, insecure and elevate stress levels.
That performance gets worse as group size increases
The suggestion was made to give children the time and training they need to deliberately practice on their own.
Hmm immediately I was considering the classroom situation and in fact the book does go on to address Schools and how they mainly serve extroverts,
“The purpose of School should be to prepare kids for the rest of their lives, but too often what kids need to be prepared for is surviving the school day itself.”
It moves on to offer some strategies to assist introverted children navigate the school day. It doesn’t offer home educating as an option which is a shame.
So how do I manage my life as an introvert? Well I take short time out intervals throughout the day just so I can ‘be in my own head,’ a bath in the morning, a walk at lunchtime, simple things. I do like to socialise but I prefer smaller groups so meeting up with 1 or 2 friends at a time suits me much better. Ultimately though I accept who I am.
I will happily post on my copy if anyone is interested in reading it, leave me a comment below this post if so.