Have you ever had someone say, “You’re too quiet. Don’t you ever talk?”
As a young girl, I could usually be found in a corner somewhere with a book.
I also loved staring out the bus window for hours, watching the scenery change gradually from the mountains to the plains to the ocean. I was not concentrating on any one thing. I was enjoying the view, soaking it in.
I found conversation with complete strangers difficult to maintain, and I often dreaded church potluck dinners (there seemed to be a lot of them when I was growing up). My worst fear was sitting next to someone I knew nothing about and trying to come up with questions to ask them. After asking their name and age, I gave up. My other sisters, especially Joanna, could somehow dream up the most amazing questions and keep the flow of conversation going. Not me.
I have grown out of much of this (just ask my sisters or my roommate), but I still find myself needing quiet moments of reflection now and again. So when I read Susan Cain’s book Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts, I felt like I was coming home. This was her teen and kids version of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.
Here was someone who understood my need for quiet introspection, for calm moments with a book, for escape from big parties and loud conversation. She wrote about all of the struggles that introverts face and how they can leverage their personalities in a world that never seems to shut up.
In her book, Cain uses “A Manifesto for Introverts” to show how the temperament of an introvert is actually a superpower. She writes that “there’s a word for ‘people who are in their heads too much’: thinkers.” She also says that “most great ideas spring from solitude.”
Not everyone is content to sit quietly at home or watch the sunset for hours or dive into a book. But if you do, you will receive no judgment from me. And if you don’t, I will still talk to you.
The more I study about introverts, the more I am learning that I do not need to be ashamed of my temperament.
Over the last few years, God has been teaching me to be thankful for the personality He gave me.
He created me with a quiet personality, so of course He knows my tendencies. He said He has “searched me and known me” (Psalm 139:1). He is “acquainted with all my ways” (Psalm 139:3). Nothing about me is a surprise to Him, although I often surprise myself.
But that does not mean I cannot have an influence with that quiet streak. He wants me to keep learning about the ways to use my personality to help others, not merely to dissect my own inclinations. I believe in reading books that help me grow and expand my knowledge of how to improve myself in weak areas. But ultimately, I am thankful for the truth of God’s Word that reaches beyond what I find in self-help books. His truth is the ultimate truth.
If you are an extrovert, take a moment to learn something about that quiet person next to you. If you are a quiet soul, learn to appreciate your strengths.
And if either one of you get the chance, read Cain’s books.