I came across a blog entry that linked to a video of Susan Cain talking about introverts and their power in leadership. For years I have often felt that I am painfully shy because I am so self conscious in a group setting. But after watching this video I have come to the conclusion that I am actually more of an introvert than I thought I was. She says that often introverts are uncomfortable in their skin and try to be more outgoing because society chastises those who like to go off by themselves. She talks about the change in society during the Industrial Revolution where people who were used to being in smaller groups of people had to start to prove themselves in big cities.
She also talks about solitude. Maybe it’s age and experience but I have felt more and more comfortable with solitude than I used to be. Quite possibly it is also because for a greater part of my adult like I have been a practicing Quaker where the weekly service is all about silence. It is an active silence, however, where we sit and contemplate God and when we feel moved to speak, we rise and do so. Often the entire meeting is silent, which can unnerve someone if they are not familiar with it. To me it is similar to the feeling I get when I am reading with a group of people. However, instead of encoding words on a page, I am deep in thought about whatever comes into my mind.
The bottom line is that it is okay to be an introvert, Cain says. Those long times of self introspection can often produce marvelous ideas. Sometimes the documents created from that introspection can be preserved and read by and inspire others. There will always be those who are extroverted and gregarious and whose bubbly nature balance the quiet times in your life.