If you are an introvert (or think you are), you must read The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World by Marti Olsen Laney, especially if you’ve ever felt like there was something wrong with you. If you are in a relationship with an introvert or your child is an introvert, I highly recommend you read this book too!
So what is an introvert? Laney is clear that being introverted is not the same as being shy, schizoid, highly sensitive or antisocial, although of course these may overlap. She defines introverts as follows:
“Introverts draw energy from their internal world of ideas, emotions and impressions. They are energy conservers. They can be easily overstimulated by the external world, experiencing the uncomfortable feeling of ‘too much.’ . . . They need to limit their social experiences so they don’t get drained.” (p. 19, her italics)
By contrast, “extroverts are energized by the external world—by activities, people, places, and things” (p. 19, her italics). Unlike shyness, for example, which is learned from experience, introversion is hardwired: it is a temperament one is born with. Since 75% of the world is extroverted, extrovert traits tend to be seen as normal, while introvert traits are not.
Laney examines the differences between the brains of introverts and extroverts (which is fascinating stuff) and addresses such issues as relationships, working, socializing and parenting (a section that brought tears to my eyes—I so wish an adult had been able to help me develop better introvert coping strategies as a child).
What amazed me about this book is how much I recognized myself in it. What I thought were my own personal quirks (and failings) turn out to be introvert traits (and not failings at all). If nothing else, Laney’s book gives introverts permission to be who they are and to take care of their own needs without feeling like there is something wrong with them. My only reservations about this book are that the textbook style was sometimes irritating (I thought the “Points to Ponder” sections at the end of each chapter were unnecessary) and I occasionally felt that Laney overstated her case, making introverts out to be more fragile than they are (or at least that she didn’t always take into account that introversion and extroversion are on a continuum, so not all introverts are equally introverted).
This is definitely a book I plan to reread over and over again!
To read other reviews of this book, head over to these blogs:
Better with Books • Mt. Hope Chronicles • Philosophical Ramblings • What Came Down Today
For a laugh, read this article:
Caring for Your Introvert (perhaps only funny if you’re an introvert—Mr. B, who is an extrovert, was not nearly as amused as I was)
Thank you to Linda at Better with Books for lending me this book.