I can’t remember when I first learned about introverts and extroverts, but there was never any doubt that I was an introvert. All I needed to know was that introverts liked/needed time to themselves. I genuinely like people, but I have always required quality solitary time. Anyway, some random posting on facebook about the qualities of introverts made me start to wonder a bit more about my innate personality. I couldn’t find the original book mentioned on Facebook at the library, but I picked up The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World (2002) by Marti Olsen Laney in an effort to learn more about myself.
The Introvert Advantage contained some interesting bits of knowledge, and it has given me a different perspective of myself and parts of my life. However, I was looking for a book explaining why I think and act the way I do. The Introvert Advantage often focused on trying to convince the reader that being an introvert is not that bad, as well as self-help tips for how to live as an introvert. First, when Laney lists some of the qualities of introverts, it just made me think, “Crap, being an introvert is worse than I thought.” Introverts need more sleep and rest, don’t like being active, can be sensitive to the sun, walk and talk slowly, need more recovery time, and can be sensitive to heat and cold. For someone who wants to be a firefighter, these wussy qualities are not helpful. Second, some of the self-help tips were corny or obvious. I’m sure she didn’t mean it like this, but it was almost insulting to be told to try talking to people.
One rather haunting chapter for me was her description of relationships. Since I am still very much in the process of getting over a recent breakup, reading her section on introvert females dating extrovert males kind of brought it all back. I know we had bigger issues than just our personalities conflicting. But reading through the section did make me wonder if things could have gone differently if we had understood eachother better.
Every once in awhile Laney would blurt out some fascinating little tidbit that I had no idea was related to being an introvert. For instance, when learning, left-brained introverts value the written word or the word of an authoritative source. They may need data that supports what someone says in order to trust their information. Also, introverts are often more comfortable sitting in a group than standing. Both of these are very true for me, but I thought they were just weird preferences I had. It was these little nuggets that really interested me. But the author never explained why. Although there was a rather unclear description of how introvert and extrovert brains work differently, the fact that introverts have a longer pathway in their brains to process information does not explain all of the personality traits associated with introverts. Why are introverts more comfortable sitting than standing? Why do we feel more exposed? Why are we more self-conscious? Is it just because we are more aware? I would have been much more interested in the book if it delved deeply into these questions and stayed away from the self-help business.