As many of you might know, I am working towards my license in mental health counseling and am very interested in psychology and counseling in a general sense. At this time of my life, my education and career feels very rewarding. I work for a famous psychiatrist in the ADHD community. He rose in popularity and to the top of the New York Times Bestseller list for his books about his strength-focused approach to ADHD. Because of him, for the first time people recognized that having ADHD could attribute to POSITIVE aspects of their lives and personality. He brought home the point that it is all about recognizing what strategies make sense for you. I love talking to people who have read his books and hearing that they finally feel understood and everything makes sense.
QUIET by Susan Cain does exactly that for me.
I have always known that I am an introvert. That is not exactly a revelation. But the new information here is that there are benefits to being an introvert. It makes me okay with it, it makes me OWN it. A lot of the quirks I like about myself can be attributed to my introversion.
Susan Cain self-identifies herself as an introvert and for her research for this book, puts herself in situations where an introvert might be incredibly uncomfortable. She attends a Tony Robbins seminar and is overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and audience participation. She interviews students at Harvard Business School and explores how students are graded by their extroversion. We learn that the business world is is not about having the best idea, it is about who can express their idea the fastest and most convincingly. And the loudest. This is obviously not an ideal measure for an introverted person to be judged.
There’s a chapter entitled “When Collaboration Kills Creativity” about how group projects are the fucking worst and can I just say AMEN. I have found that solitude is essential for creativity. I work best when I can take time to organize my thoughts. I can concentrate on tasks so much better by myself than when I am surrounded by other people. And that completely makes sense, as an introvert. For introverts, social situations take up more energy than for extroverts. That is within the definition. If energy is not being used to interact with someone, then it can be focused entirely on the task. I also tend to be very “other-oriented”. I am constantly concerned about other people and their feelings, reading into their facial expressions and the meaning behind each word. So for me, having a task to complete while having to maintain human interaction is utterly exhausting. When I have group projects, I would often just do it all myself. Or divide tasks evenly for independent work to eventually combine. Anything to avoid working absolutely along side somebody. If it was a group study session that I had to attend, what I found would work best is when I would study by myself beforehand, and then spend group time being more in the teacher role than collaborator.
This book has the most beautiful quotes about introversion and MY ENTIRE LIFE.
“Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to.”
Oh Susan, you get me. In college I was the HAPPIEST when I could spend hours in the library making elaborate study sheets for an upcoming psych test. In my mid-20s I broke up with a dude because he did not respect my need to unwind after a long day and relax at home. The bar scene was horrible enough in college. Post-grad school? Really? Peace OUT.
“It’s as if they have thinner boundaries separating them from other people’s emotions and from the tragedies and cruelties of the world.”
Susan talks about Eleanor Roosevelt in order to bring attention to the fact that introverts can be and have been successful, outspoken public figures. In light of the introvert’s propensity for feeling empathy intensely and processing information unusually deeply, it made sense for Eleanor, a famously quiet person, to become active in social causes. She was terrified of public speaking but she loved public life, because she was able to advocate for problems that were important to her; women’s issues, starved miners in Appalachia, human rights, she was amazing. Introverts care deeply and are passionate about causes that matter to them. Eleanor is my hero and introversion soulmate.
“..it was perhaps this sensitivity that made it easy for her to relate to the disenfranchised, and conscientious enough to act on their behalf. FDR is remembered for his compassion. But it was Eleanor who made sure he knew how suffering Americans felt.”
Because of how much we enjoy thinking about things deeply, we get really into it. When I was 9 I started reading about the Holocaust in my free time and I have not stopped. I will spend a month focused on reserve police battalions in Poland and the mentality for a group of soldiers to shoot an entire village in an amphitheater, another month on the Wannsee conference and how it is depicted in different forms of media, then Dr. Miklos Nyiszli’s experience as a Jewish doctor in Auschwitz assisting Mengele, and on and and on. And then I will take a break from that because I watched a documentary about North Korea and now I want to know EVERYTHING about North Korea. And bring back my blog in order to talk about it.I’ve spent hours delving into abortion rights, then abortion terrorism, then the development of Planned Parenthood and the birth control movement, then Margaret Sanger, and on and on and on. This is all really ridiculous keeping in mind that I AM SO BUSY IN GENERAL, IN LIFE. I am in school for my license and I work full time, but yet I still to spend alone time exploring topics that most people do not want to think about. SELF-CARE IS WHATEVER YOU WANT IT TO BE.
I love talking to people about these things. People that I am just getting to know. And according to the research in Quiet, that is VERY common for an introvert. Introverted people tend to only enjoy small talk AFTER they had gone into deeper topics. For most people, small talk eases them INTO conversation. Introverts prefer the opposite. We are comfortable when we are talking about something we care about. Then we can ease into idle chit-chat about nonsense.
HI IM JILL. NICE TO MEET YOU. FIRST LETS TALK ABOUT OUR OPINIONS ON SYRIAN REFUGEES AND SIMILARITIES WITH JEWISH REFUGEES POST WWII. I’M GOING TO TELL YOU ALL ABOUT THE MS. ST LOUIS IN 1939 AND THE 908 PEOPLE THAT WERE TURNED AWAY FROM THE U.S AND CANADA ONLY TO GO BACK TO EUROPE. AND WE ALL KNOW HOW THAT WENT. THEN YOU CAN ASK ME ABOUT WHAT I DID THIS WEEKEND. IT WAS A NICE WEEKEND. I PROBABLY STAYED IN AND READ ABOUT THE MS. ST LOUIS. THEN MY BOYFRIEND AND I PROBABLY WENT TO AN INDIE THEATER IN THE VILLAGE TO WATCH YET ANOTHER DOCUMENTARY ABOUT ABORTION. YES. HE’S A CATCH.
I’m weird and kind of crazy but I like me.
And now for the main event: JILL EATS OATMEAL
The box is all crushed because I shoved this in my backpack during a trip to grand old Long Island to see the folks.
I am not a morning person. I will tell you this over and over again.
I am terrible at EVERY ASPECT OF MORNINGS.
Waking up: I have multiple alarms. My fitbit has a vibrating alarm. My phone has alarms. I have at least a cumulative total of 10 alarms. But it doesn’t really help if I just turn them off and go back to sleep 10 times.
Morning Hygiene: I love all my roommates to death. But inevitably, when you live with multiple people and do not plan out your morning wisely , sometimes the bathroom is a battlefield. I keep a toothbrush and some toothpaste in my bag just in case I lost the battle. Sometimes I brush my teeth in the kitchen sink. Sometimes there are dishes in there and so that would be disgusting. But yes, at 29 years old, sometimes I leave the house without brushing my teeth. Aren’t you glad you know that?
Showering in the morning is sometimes a thing. It wakes me up. But then the bed looks so cozy and as a Darth Vader once said, “Resistance is Futile” and I’m right back where I started except now the pillow is all wet from my hair. Awesome.
Breakfast is hard. But breakfast is important. My FAVORITE breakfast is an omelette with salsa and ANY cheese except goat cheese. But if you think I will often find myself doing that in the morning then you have not been paying attention.
MY POINT IS THAT NOW I KEEP A BOX OF INSTANT OATMEAL ON MY OFFICE TO MAKE MYSELF BREAKFAST AT WORK. I use the hot water from the keurig thing. I am not trying to win any culinary awards here. I am not even taking a picture of the finished product in it’s paper cup because oatmeal is not pretty to look at.
Have a good weekend folks.