A couple of years ago I read Susan Cain’s book: Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Susan documents how schools, companies and even churches embrace extroverts and make it difficult for someone who is “quiet” to be valued. Since that time I have recommended it hundreds of times to people who suspect they are being left behind because they are not the life of the party.
Here’s just one small excerpt regarding church involvement: “The evangelical culture ties together faithfulness with extroversion. The emphasis is on community, on participating in more and more programs and events, on meeting more and more people. It’s a constant tension for many introverts that they’re not living that out. And in a religious world, there’s more at stake when you feel that tension. It doesn’t feel like ‘I’m not doing well as I’d like.’ It feels like ‘God isn’t pleased with me.’”
Contemporary evangelicalism says that every person you fail to meet and proselytize is another soul you might have saved. But what if you are “reflective, cerebral, bookish, unassuming, sensitive, thoughtful, serious, contemplative, introspective, inner-directed, gentle, calm, solitude-seeking, and melancholic?” Are those characteristics to be squashed and ignored? Is there any place in society where a quiet person can thrive and make a contribution? Can that person be “successful” and fulfill God’s will in their lives?
Have you ever found yourself pretending to be an extrovert? Are seriousness and sensitivity second-class personality traits – somewhere between a “disappointment and a pathology?” Fortunately, in Quiet, the author shows that some of our greatest ideas, art and inventions came from quiet and cerebral people who knew how to embrace their inner worlds and the treasures to be discovered there.
We just had another amazing Innovate event here last Thursday and Friday. The group included those who struggle with “promoting” their work. Fortunately, promoting one’s work today does not require standing on a soapbox in the middle of a busy intersection. You can learn how to successfully promote and prosper – even while remaining an “introvert.” Hey we’ve even got a group in the 48Days.net community for introverts to share ideas – Embracing Introvertedness.
What do you think? Can an introvert thrive and prosper in our extraverted world? Have you found some ideas for doing well as an Introvert?