What happens when you find a topic that you’re interested in?
You like to find out more about it, right? This is where passions begin, knowledge develops and inspiration strikes. Yet introversion is an area where the amount of information available doesn’t reflect the number of introverts that there are. This needs to change. How are introverts and those close to them supposed to find out about introversion without relevant resources?
Sure, I have read some brilliant books about introversion, but beyond Quiet by Susan Cain (which I loved, by the way), I have had to actively search them out. There certainly isn’t an introversion section in any book shop I’ve ever been to. Introversion is still not spoken about in mass media, but presented as a niche interest. This doesn’t seem right when around half the population are introverts. It’s scarcely surprising that so many people don’t realise that they are introverts until late in life because helpful information is so hard to come by (and don’t even get me started on the misleading and incorrect dictionary definitions – that will have to wait for another blog!).
Here are my top five reasons why we need more books about introversion:
1. You can’t fit everything about introversion in one book
Some people I have spoken to have asked why we need more books about introversion (including a friend in publishing): “I mean you’ve got Quiet, what else do you want?”. Imagine that response in any other sector: only one book about marketing, autism, cooking or mental health is needed. What nonsense!
The whole point of consuming diverse content is to expand your knowledge and understanding. One book, no matter how good it is, cannot tell you everything that there is to know about a topic. Also, when it comes to introversion, we are a diverse group of people with varied interests and personalities. The information that’s available needs to reflect this.
This is why I love my introvert community. Little by little our voice is being heard. More and more people are finding out what introversion really is and how diverse the experience of introverts can be: from sociable, outgoing introverts to quieter, more reflective souls who prefer to spend time in their heads – and everyone in between. Introverts really are everywhere, working in all industries at all levels. Sometimes all that unites us is what energises us: quiet time alone or with one or two specific people.
2. Introverts make up around 50% of the population
The real reason why I feel so passionately that there needs to be more written about introversion is that there are so many of us, and yet, too many introverts go through life thinking that there is something wrong with them and that they need to change who they are to be able to succeed. What a waste of time and stress, particularly when it’s not even true. Introverts have valuable skills to offer and have been fundamental in shaping the world we live in: Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks, Bill Gates or Oprah Winfrey anyone?
Author Steve Friedman refers to introverts as the “hidden half”, who are rarely considered when it comes to matters of diversity and inclusion. The assumption is that introverts will bend to the extrovert way of doing things or miss out. And what’s important to remember here is that introversion is not a choice, it is the way you’re wired. Permanently. Research shows that introverts’ and extroverts’ brains are structured differently yet introverts are routinely discriminated against.
Everyone can change their behaviour depending on the context. It’s emotional intelligence in action. Introverts and extroverts’ stretch, like a spring, depending on the situation they find themselves in, but will always return to their original shape to rest and recharge. So if you speak in public (and maybe even enjoy it) it doesn’t mean that you are not an introvert, but it does probably mean that you will search out peace and quiet to recharge afterwards.
3. Understanding introversion improves mental health
Introversion isn’t taught about in schools and it doesn’t form part of teacher training either. This means it is rarely considered in an educational environment and introverted children will time and time again find themselves measured against an extroverted yardstick. From a young age, introverted children start to feel that there is something wrong with their quiet nature. There is a constant pressure to speak up, to join in and to be more outgoing. These behaviours don’t always come naturally to introverts; and feeling that you need to change who you are to succeed can take its toll on their mental health.
Of course, it’s not only children who feel that introversion is unvalued and unwanted. Many adults feel that the narrow definition of success is extroverted. They often push themselves to be more extroverted than they are comfortable with to fit in, which is stressful, not to mention exhausting. The constant toll of feeling that you are some how broken or less than cannot be underestimated.
Just imagine if introversion is something that was considered throughout life. What a difference it would make to the lives of introverts. Most of the introverts who I have spoken to wish they had known they were introverted at an early age. Even those who did know as children, still felt that it was something that needs to be changed. This is why there needs to be more information available for introverts of all ages that explains different temperaments accurately.
4. We can support each other and communicate better
Learning about introversion and extroversion helps everyone to understand each other better. It improves communication and relationships. If everyone realised that introverts and extroverts are wired differently and that their temperaments are fixed, not optional, it would help us have greater understanding an empathy for one another.
Successful teams, relationships and groups of friends are often a mix of introverted and extroverted personalities. Everyone offers something different. Having a quiet, more measured introvert can help to balance an extremely outgoing extrovert and vice versa. No temperament is better or worse than another, but by understanding our different experiences of the world we can help to make changes to include everyone.
5. We need to avoid untapped potential
As I previously mentioned, introverts make up around half of the population, which means that they are not the minority that they can be made to feel. This diverse group of people have a huge range of knowledge and skills, too much of which isn’t being harnessed. Too many introverts hide or ignore the quieter part of their nature and either withdraw from opportunities or act more extroverted to succeed.
We need to remember that the world needs deep thinkers, complex problem solvers and thoughtful contributors, which are all areas where introverts are highly skilled. By forcing introverts into an extroverted mould of success, you are in danger of missing out of this untapped potential. To ensure that this doesn’t happen, people, introvert and extrovert alike, need to understand more introversion. We need more books and other resources to help educate us all.
And finally, introverts (or at least most of them) really like to read; so if any group of people are going to buy book to read about introversion it’s introverts. We are naturally curious and like to research and prepare to help us process information and try to understand ourselves and the world around us. Yet there just aren’t enough books about introversion for us to read yet.
I hope that, just as the conversation about introversion is becoming more common, the number of resources about introversion will be increase, and that includes more books.