Freya Darbyshire

Why ‘Quiet’ struck a chord with me

Self-help guides have recently become quite popular. Susan Cain’s Quiet, a book celebrating introverts, is one amongst many including You Do You and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. However, what makes Cain’s book stand out is that it offers a unique exploration into the often overlooked subject matters of solitude and modesty.

Instead of enforcing ideas upon its readers, Quiet teaches the difference between what an introvert and what an extrovert is so that these terms can then be properly used. Early on, Cain dispels preconceptions of what introversion is, such as it doesn’t mean that you are ‘necessarily shy. Shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating.’ I feel that this is a really important distinction to make for this is a well-known personality theory that needs to be better understood in order to realize that it is not a simple dichotomy but rather should more appropriately be defined as a spectrum.

As a person who identifies more with introverted preferences for having a close group of friends rather than a large group and enjoying company but needing solitude as well, I find that this is a book that really encourages me to accept and pursue my quieter nature in a world that is primarily geared up to the concerns of those louder and more confident than me. So, if you’re ever in doubt of yourself, I would definitely recommend turning to this particular book as Quiet can help boost your self-esteem as it reassures you that it is completely ordinary to have these predispositions.

As a self-help book which draws on real people and real cases, Quiet is a nice alternative to fiction. Chapter six briefly considers how people of the opposite type can work together well by balancing each other out. Cain uses the extroverted and confident Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor, who was otherwise known for being soft-spoken, as examples of how their opposing personalities challenged them to think in alternative ways. By referring to pre-existing figures, Cain cleverly illustrates how anybody and everybody can relate to this model and how both types are equally beneficial. Just because those quieter and perhaps more sensitive are sometimes made to feel overshadowed by louder and more talkative individuals shouldn’t disregard equally important qualities that they have to offer.

Overall, Quiet’s central concern is to encourage embracing introversion and its unique qualities that can often be overlooked. However, each chapter offers something different whether that is looking at how to tackle issues some introverts may struggle with, or reminding readers that everybody is individual in their own way. I felt that I related to some chapters but not others, and that not all chapters tailored to my interests, but the book’s engaging, factual style makes it a fast read anyway and all are worthwhile insights into introversion. Although Quiet was published back in 2012, Cain’s exploration into empathy and reflective thinking are relatable issues that can still be dwelt on. It doesn’t matter when it is read, as her messages still teach valuable lessons, but this is definitely one to at least add to your reading list for an insightful approach into the subject. It is one that encourages you to consider and appreciate introverts, whether you consider yourself to be one or not, ‘in a World that Can’t Stop Talking’.

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