The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
Stumbling upon Susan Cain’s TEDTalk delving into the ‘Power of Introverts’ opened up a whole new level of self-acceptance and understanding of what it meant to be me, an introvert who had since childhood carried deep shame of this intrinsic truth.
I constantly wondered why I didn’t feel more comfortable in large gregarious groups, why i’d rather play alone in my own little world, why I had such an aversion to attention. Growing up I came to believe that the extroverted persona of my fathers Irish side to more welcome than the gentle quiet nature of my mothers. I did what I could in an attempt to shake off my sensitivity, I sought opportunities to challenge my introversion. I entered talent contests, sang with my back to the audience, took up drama with the hope of not being given too many lines. I stumbled reading aloud in class, I panicked in group trainings. I longed for an exit from the pretence of being something I wasn’t. I longed to be accepted for who I was, and perhaps even celebrated. For a quiet sense of confidence, for a modest and unassuming nature, for the ability to feel deep empathy and care for others. And still came the seemingly concerned suggestions to somehow be ‘coaxed out of my shell’, to undergo a radical transformation, to one day arrive in a state of extroversion.
That day never came, instead I began the journey back to honouring exactly what it was that made me, me. I began to embrace my sensitivity, to value and respect my deep need for quiet, gentleness and solitude. I stopped putting myself in environments that felt alien to me. I began to do the things that felt gentle, natural and soothing to my spirit. I spent time in nature, created a daily devotional practice, sat and watched the trees sway whilst cradling my beloved cat. I moved with the cycles of the moon, embraced the power of being alone in the wilderness. Sang for myself, danced for no audience, wrote for therapy with the hope that my words may soothe the soul of another.
One third to a half of the worlds population are introverts and contrary to the reverence of this in many eastern cultures, in western society there is a clear bias towards extroversion. Most of our important institutions are designed for extroversion including work environments and schools. Research shows that in western society the ideal student is an extrovert, despite introverts acquiring knowledge and understanding on a deeper level. Culturally we can see that way back in time character was valued with great importance, modesty, integrity, respect and courteousness, values that are still upheld and treasured in many parts of the world. As the west began to develop economically there became a grater emphasis on personality, the ability to sell, magnetise and attract through a charismatic and ‘outgoing’ approach to business, life and success in general. Extroversion slowly became the barometer of personal and professional triumph and introverts began to shrink inwards, believing there was no space for them in this society.
Susan Cain details how many transformative leaders throughout the course of history were introverts and were resistant to leadership but because their passion was so great they had no other option but to speak up softly and share. These gentle and compassionate leaders include Martin Luther King, Mahatma Ghandi, Bill Gates and Rosa Parks. The course of history presents the notions that introverts lead in the spirit of activism, in the hope of positive change and never with the desire for personal power or ego-led fame. Introverted leaders are givers, not takers, based on the passion for collective change, not personal gain.
“In a quiet way you can shake the world” - Mahatma Ghandi
Introverted or extroverted we all came to earth with a mission, a purpose, a divine assignment. Together we can believe and trust in a world that can exist in harmony. The key lies in listening when we most desire to speak and to always lead from the heart with a spirit of gentleness.
You can learn more about Susan Cain’s ‘Quiet Revolution’ mission here
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And purchase her Sunday Times bestselling book “Quiet” here
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With love and gratitude for reading and feeling x