Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Introvert's Way by Sophia Dembling

Blogger Sophia Dembling writes about her life as an introvert. This subject carries over into her book The Introvert’s Way.

Dembling tries to sort out what introversion is. It is not simply the opposite of extroversion, nor is it shyness. It is not antisocial or pathological. Introversion and extroversion are different ways in which the brains of people operate. There is much that is positive in the introverted way, even if western—and particularly American—culture has a preference for traits associated with extroverts.

Admittedly, introverts can come across as aloof, timid, or too intense. Dembling describes how introverts are simply responding to the world in ways that suit our (yes, I’m an introvert) sensitivity to stimuli, energy, and way of thinking. When we withdraw, we’re simply tired or overstimulated, not angry or shy. We can seem intense because we like making deeper connections and we are passionate about our interests. Dembling suggest that introverts can combat misperceptions by first accepting themselves as they are and then gently explaining it to others.

Another thing that introverts tend to do that can drive extrovert up the wall is we think and act slowly. My longsuffering wife has learned to give me plenty of advanced notice when an important decision is needed from me or us as a couple. This may be why introverts shine in e-mail, texting, and social media (some of us old-timers still write letters on occasion). The media allow us to think and respond at our own pace.

Dembling also addresses the misconception that introverts don’t have fun. We do. Sometimes we even have fun at parties or social gatherings, especially with a small group of close friends or family. Introverts generally like quiet, slow-paced activities. Extroverts probably look at us and think we’re not doing anything.

Each chapter is written as a short essay. In addition to dealing with the issues already mentioned, Dembling writes about how she and other introverts deal with things we tend to hate, like parties and small talk. She takes a middle ground somewhere between don’t be bullied by (well-meaning) extorverts and suck it up because these things are part of life. To have the peaceful life introverts want along with the social life they want (and they do want one), they have to strike a balance, and Dembling suggests some ways that balance can be made.

If you’re interested in this book, you may also be interested in

Dembling, Sophia. The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World. New York: Perigee, 2012.