Embracing Introversion

I started reading the book Quiet, by Susan Cain. While I generally think of myself these days as leaning more towards an ambivert on the spectrum, I've come to realise that I've been unconsciously distancing myself from many of my natural introvert inclinations.

My introversion makes me question everything. I deliberate on decisions before making them. I've attempted to fake conviction in the face of uncertainty in the past, and I'm well aware that I'd never be as convincing as a more extroverted person would be in the same situation. It's hard to make that work in a culture where "I don't know" is often perceived as weakness, as not a good enough of a response. It might even make people question your competence.

As a very introspective person, I try to be very aware of what I don't know, what my weaknesses are. I struggle to spin this positively in situations where weaknesses are unwanted, such as job interviews, where the cookie cutter question "What's your biggest weakness?", likely yields disingenuous responses most of the time anyway.

I know my ideas are worth considering because I'm their harshest critic before they even see the light of day. However, many of them don't get heard because I prefer to show their merits by doing rather than speaking them.

I hate small talk because I hate wasting your time even more than wasting mine.

The book notes that people of Asian descent tend to be more introverted, and introverted qualities tend to be revered in Asian countries. This in contrast to the Western appreciation for being outgoing and speaking your mind when you have a thought. Biologically, it all comes down to the fact that the nomadic Europeans needed to be confident and take more risks in the face of uncertainty.

After moving from China to Australia when I was 6, I was bullied pretty heavily during adolescence. I was too introspective, too self conscious, too aware of what people thought of me. I wasn't carefree like my peers, my over-thinking made others uneasy. Having experienced this combined with being highly sensitive, I can usually tell when others struggle with self consciousness. I had a tendency to avoid people more self conscious than I am, mostly because of how hard I've personally tried to disassociate myself from that behaviour.

In negativally associating introversion/self consciousness, I started distancing myself from my culture, I'd avoid other Asians who weren't 'westernised', I stopped speaking Chinese.

I do embrace a lot of the more 'western' ideals such as individualism, creativity and lateral thinking. However, this book made me think about what the western-focussed world is missing out on by ignoring the quiet thinkers. The rabbit may have won the race, but I bet the turtle noticed a lot more details, carefully thought about each part of the journey, as it crawled to the finish line.