Quiet

May 5, 2012

This book managed to accomplish exactly what it set out to do for me. It helped me realize that so many of the things I thought were wrong with me are perfectly normal, and in many cases, are arguments for why I should like myself a bit more than I already do.

It's pretty clear now, only after reading this book, that I'm an introvert. And apparently, that's awesome. I would consider myself a pretty social person. But I dont have a million friends. I count myself one of the luckiest people in the world to have the friends that I do.

I was fine with the big parties in college. You know, the ones in the basements of frat houses and such. But what I treasured more than that by a thousand times was when it was just a few of us, throwing back some beers, listening to good music, and laughing constantly. I know I get uncomfortable when I'm with huge crowds but I always told that voice to shush, that I just needed to get used to it. I mean, I still do, but at least I don't have to shut the little guy up when just walking around Shibuya for five minutes drains all my energy.

That's one of the most interesting things I got from the book. What tires you out and what recharges you. Everything she said about introverts was spot on for me. I've done my fair share of presentations and I'm not too shabby, but I am absolutely exhausted afterwards, and I can't wing them. When I'm out talking and seeing a lot of people, I get tired. These things are fun, but they are hard, and I can't do it constantly. So what does recharge me? A good book. A great movie. A peaceful dinner, or dinner with a few friends. Just a little quiet once in a while.

My favorite parts are her views on work. There seems to be this single view in the startup community that open and experimental and constant communication and working together is the only way to do things. Don't get me wrong, you have to work together. It's just that we need to stop the constant groupwork. I've seen days pass by me without much work done because there's always meetings and people running around, with no room to think. Even if we're working quietly, with people in the room bustling around, it's nothing compared to when I can close the door. I can tackle something hard anywhere, but I've seen much better results when I can go at it in long stretches alone (I'm talking hours, not days or weeks). We need to reconvene regularly and talk and discuss ideas and such, but not so often and not all the time. I've always had this unexplainable distaste for meetings and I'm glad I'm not alone.

I struggle with speaking my mind. I thought it was a sign of strength to do that, although the people who constantly do always got on my nerves, but I just saw it as envy coming from someone who doesn't want to. I mean, I do on the things that are really important, but it's so important to let most things go. I love that.

I skimmed some parts. The whole last section of the book is about raising an introvert which I mostly skipped. She explains plenty of well known psychological experiments to prove some of her points, but somehow I had read about all of them before. What's fascinating is her own experiences, the first hand experiences of those she interviewed, and her opinion on the whole attitude towards introvertism (if that's a word).

I wonder what this book is like for people who don't identify with these things (ie. extroverts). The draw would be completely different from what hooked me. Would it help them understand some of their friends better? Would it help them work better with their introvert colleagues?

She has nothing bad to say about extroverts. If you're an extrovert, and you're cool, that's awesome. But the big takeaway is, it's awesome to be an introvert too, and if you realize this, you can take advantage of it and play to your or others's strengths. That's a powerful message.