I can’t stop talking about ‘Quiet’

  • Jul 5, 2012
Yes, I see the irony when I interrupt a roomful of readers exclaiming, “Listen, you have to hear this…” especially when the title of my book is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

But Erik did exactly the same thing when he read it the next week. He’d run into the room, call for attention and eagerly share the study or quote he’d just read.

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If you have children, or friends, or siblings or co-workers or know any people at all, you need to read this book. I guess that excludes everyone except the most extreme hermit, who probably needs the book most of all.

We are a houseful of introverts– each of us to varying degrees and with our own comfort zones– we love to read, enjoy time alone and crave weekends at home. Certainly, I’m on the louder, “let’s have a party” end of the spectrum. I love making friends and generally have trouble keeping up with the people in my life whom I adore, but I’ll choose a book over a pro-basketball game any day. In fact, I never really understood why people enjoyed going to sporting events in those huge arenas and stadiums until I read ‘Quiet’ (I kinda just thought most of the world was crazy); now I understand crowd energy invigorates some people while I recharge best with my family or alone (still, I adore Temple Square during General Conference and the teeming energy of New York City).

In truth, I love any book acknowledging we are all different, one-size-does-not-fit-all, my way isn’t your way. ‘Quiet’ emphasizes no one is a pure extrovert or introvert, we all have a bit of each and every personality is unique. Different stages in our life reveal varied parts of our personality. The past few years I’ve been more introverted as I’ve tried to heal from personal pain, but in the past I often invited a new family over every Sunday for dinner.

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My favorite, favorite section of the book describes ‘orchid children’– “this theory holds that many children are like dandelions, able to thrive in just about any environment. But others, including the high-reactive types…are more like orchids: they wilt easily, but under the right conditions can grow strong and magnificent.”

Ah! That one paragraph explains all my parenting! Every one of my children screamed their way through their first two years of life– they didn’t like the car, the stroller, new foods, people. I watched in awe as other babies actually lay contentedly in their carseats at church cooing at strangers. Mine were either on my lap, at my feet or screaming. Sleeping strategies never worked on any of them and no buckle thwarted their ability to escape a stroller or car seat. But as they grew, they became happy, charming (brilliant) toddlers, so I counted the turmoil of the early years as a pretty good trade-off.

High reactive kids respond strongly to all kinds of stimulation, often leading to the term ‘oversensitive.’ And while this might sound negative, it also means they think and feel deeply, notice beauty, feel guilt for wrong doing, are extraordinarily creative, cultivate true empathy for others and form lasting relationships.

“Scientists have known for a while high-reactive temperaments come with risk factors. These kids are especially vulnerable to challenges like marital tension, a parent’s death or abuse. They are more likely than their peers to react to these events with depression, anxiety, and shyness.”

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Even more than my children, the above paragraphs describe me. I bruise like a ripe peach, my heart is wounded easily. I’ve always felt like I need to hide, to fit in, but I’m learning my sensitivity is the very best of me: I see beauty everywhere and God’s hand in every moment. When you tell me your hurts, I feel them. Others may comfort, but I will mourn with you. And my fragile heart, which has always felt like a handicap, has increased my abilities to mother my six (and I was the girl who never wanted children).

“What scientists haven’t realized until recently is that these risk factors have an upside. In other words, these sensitivities and strengths are a package deal. High-reactive kids who enjoy good parenting, child care and a stable home environment tend to have fewer emotional problems and more social skills than their low-reactive peers.”

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Those words help explain why parenting challenges and styles are so varied; what works for me, won’t necessarily work at your house. And forgive me if I’ve seemed a little smug about raising teenagers– yes, introverts have their own struggles, but they are more malleable than kids who are strongly influenced by external sources.

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I’ve taken a more serious turn than I intended at the beginning, but Quiet validates everything I’ve felt about parenting my children– everything matters, my actions count for good and bad more than most. Don’t let me frighten you off with my soul searching (and c’mon, you know I’m not collecting a penny from this recommendation), it’s a book celebrating all personality types and the strengths we can lend each other. I guarantee you’ll learn something about your loved ones and yourself.

Fittingly, I’m writing this alone while Erik treats the four youngest to “Brave.” I love to be with them, the movie looks intriguing, but more than anything right now, I’m craving quiet.

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July 1, 2012
July 8, 2012

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9 Comments

  1. Reply

    Laurel C.

    July 6, 2012

    I received this book for my birthday last month and have been anxious to read it. “Quiet” sums up my personality, too. I love studies and writings that validate the introvert (and as you said that “one size does not fit all”). In this world that celebrates and values the extrovert, I love it when us introverts get some air time and understanding, too.

    And as usual… love your pictures.

  2. Reply

    Cath

    July 6, 2012

    Have already been wowed by the first couple chapters. You wrote about the book, and about parenting in such an excellent way here. You know I appreciate your example of dedicated and conscientious parenting very much. According to Cain, I’m an ambivert. But I live with an introvert. Good stuff.

  3. Reply

    Tracy

    July 6, 2012

    Bought book. Oh this speaks to my heart. xo

  4. Reply

    Tasha

    July 6, 2012

    I bought the book because you had mentioned it on an earlier blog…and holy moly, we love it. I also interrupt my husband with the latest quote or insight from it. We introverts have lived without recognition for too long. Can’t wait to read the chapter on Orchid Children!

    And PS, “Brave” is fabulous. It made me bawl. I’m sure it will inspire another blog post from you πŸ™‚

  5. Reply

    Rachelle

    July 8, 2012

    Will buy book. This is so well written, thank you.

  6. Reply

    Linn

    July 9, 2012

    I’ve been on the library list for this book for weeks. Me thinks I should just buy it. Why I always try the library first, I don’t know. Maybe the PhD poor years are still ingrained in me. I cannot WAIT to read this book!

  7. Reply

    Selwyn

    July 9, 2012

    I’m waiting for my library reservation to come up (I’m 6th in line!) and can’t wait.

    No way in the world is Stevie Wong an introvert, but Patro sure is. Does my head in some days!

    You write – and parent – in such inspiring and encouraging ways. Thank you!!

  8. Reply

    Anne Marie

    July 11, 2012

    That was an amazing book. Thank you for your post about it. I particularly appreciated your focus on “orchid children”. Your children have been so blessed to have you as their mother.

    I am an extreme introvert. If you’ve ever heard of the Myers-Briggs personality inventory (which I highly recommend), I was practically as introverted as one could be when I answered the questions.

    I recently read a book called “Introverts in the Church” which also helped me understand what I offer the world as an introvert. Adam McHugh writes about introverts’ strengths, including their ability to offer people “depth” and “truly listen” to them. He writes about introverts’ need to retreat after spending time with people. I have felt so much guilt through the years about being an introvert. I just don’t have the ability to serve, serve, serve like other women I know. Reading his book has helped to lighten the guilt I’ve carried.

    You are a blessing to so many. Thanks for sharing your soul here.

  9. Reply

    Grandma Honey

    April 2, 2013

    Very insightful stuff here. I’m clicking Amazon next and ordering it.

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