The Quiet Life

All of my life I have felt like the odd-one-out.  I couldn’t have basic, nice, ordinary conversations about sports teams or the weather.  Small talk stymies me; after “hi” and “how are you?” I am a bit at a loss.  I am more at ease talking to one person about ideas, books, or delve into their past.  I don’t care for large parties, late nights or wild scenes.  And when we’re at a party, my husband constantly scans my face for the “look” that says, “Let’s go.”  And as much as I love visiting my friends, I also love being alone.  Once some of my friends popped in unannounced, and I told them that I had been reading.  They walked into my quiet home, no music, no TV,  no noise whatsoever, and saw my book by my chair.  They were a little stunned, “You’re actually reading?”  Sigh.  “Yes, I’m actually reading.”  What I didn’t say was, “How long are  you planning to stay so I can get back to my book?”  The majority of my activities are solitary: walking, reading, writing, cooking, and even teaching.  In the classroom it is me alone running the show with my students.  In the meantime I envision my future hermitage.

So it was rather a revelation when one of my friends sent me a link to a review of Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.  It was like seeing my face on the Jumbo-Tron at a ball game: “That’s me!  That’s me!”.   Holy smokes, I’m normal?!  I’m not weird and there are others like me?  This may not sound all that revolutionary, and you may be thinking, “Wow, you are a person who loves to be alone who learns that you love to be alone.  Yay, you.”  However if you grow up in a society that values group collaboration, Super Bowl parties, and team sports, admitting that you wish everyone would please shut up and turn off their music and that you’d rather be alone is practically un-American.   You feel bad for turning down (or wanting to turn down) invitations; it’s nothing against other people. You recognize that you are the stick-in-the-mud and go along with the noise because it’s what everyone else wants.  It’s exhausting.  So, it’s a relief to know that I do not suffer from a social abnormality.

This does not mean I am never out and about.  I am.  When I go out, the majority of my visits have a few things in common: they happen during the day; I am visiting with 1-3 friends; and they are in a quiet setting.  I often wondered if I am the way I am because of my hearing, and the list above is suited for someone who is hard of hearing.  Loud, bustling places with lots of people talking in the same conversation is especially difficult for someone who doesn’t hear well and reads lips.  Yet, there are people who are hard-of-hearing who are social butterflies and love the night-life.  So it’s just me.

Readers, are any of you introverts?  What are your observations about life as an introvert?



22 thoughts on “The Quiet Life

  1. I’m the same. Like a quiet house and I’m either reading, writing or painting. The worst thing for me is being forced into team training, you know, management mind-games, team-building and this endless need for brain-storming problems. Just leave me alone with the problem and I’ll mind-map until I get the solution. I’m not hard of hearing but when I go out I choose quieter places. So saying, I’m a granddad and am never happier than when all the kids are around – it’s just real nice when they go home …

    1. Yes, I also need to deal with the problem or issue at hand alone to come up with a plan to fix it. It’s frustrating to be thrown into a group, given a problem, no time to analyze it, and then all of the quick thinkers or loud speakers take over. It’s very easy to tune out.

  2. I’m the same way. On weekends, I like to be at home on my own doing something I enjoy like reading or listening to music rather than partying…and I’m a college student haha

    1. Yep, I went through the same thing in college. I went to some parties and always left a little flabbergasted that this was what everyone got excited about. Good luck on your cross-country bike ride!

  3. You know, I used to be much more of an extrovert–I needed people to feel stronger and more balanced. But, as I have aged, I find myself seeking the solice and rejuvenating calm of alone time. I have often felt that maybe there was something wrong with me. Why had unchanged? Had I become too cynical? Had I become a grump? Well, maybe I have just changed, and may e ere is nothing wrong with that at all.

    1. Thanks for checking out my blog, Coryn! I think that when we’re young we feel compelled to go out and have other people help us define ourselves. As we get older we have a better sense of who we are and what we need from people versus ourselves. Trust me, I would tell you if you were a grumpy cynic!

  4. I enjoy a good party every now and again, love being with my good friends, and feel comfortable around my husband’s large family gatherings. But I am an introvert because I HAVE to recharge my batteries with alone time. And I normally have to do it often. I prefer exercising alone and yes, usually prefer a quiet night watching a movie on the couch with my hubby. Doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy others’ company. It can just wear me out. I guess I’m lucky that, as boisterous as he could be out in public, my father also tended to prefer quiet time at home. I was able to grow up taking social things at my own pace. Mostly.

    One thing I like about the Keirsey-Bates explanations of introverts and extroverts is a recognition that most of us exist somewhere on the scale. We are not just one or the other. But I guess introversion often goes along with “shy,” and it is hard to be shy growing up. It’s hard to be shy as an adult sometimes too.

    1. I covet my alone time, too. You’re right about not being one or the other; there are some extroverted qualities to my personality, but it only goes so far. I read that introversion and shyness are often linked, but they’re different. If I understand it correctly, introversion means that you prefer quiet/solitude/reflection/deep thought and shyness is more psychological. There’s something preventing you from meeting people. But either way, they’re both present their own challenges. Thank you for reading and responding!

  5. I couldn’t relate to this more. Both my husband and I are introverts. Social butterflies have tended to judge me my whole life; new friends would often say “I aways thought you were a snob until I got to know you,” and yearbook comments were usually along the lines of “You’re quiet but sweet,” as if being quiet somehow ran counter to being a nice person. It’s the curse of the introvert. But the fun part is the internal creative energy we use to make new worlds for ourselves, often in art, writing, and music. Just remember: you’re not alone.

    1. Hi Jess! I often get judged by my quiet demeanor; it makes people want to be “polite” around me. I wouldn’t trade our discussions about writing, teaching, reading, family and travel for anything. It’s great to have introvert friends (who also read my blog!).

  6. “How long are you planning to stay so I can get back to my book?” That’s sooo great! I’m exactly the same as you describe. I love the way you explained what quietly goes on in our heads!

    1. Thank you. I could really connect with your comment about how when we’re trying to be funny, we fail. Funny for me often comes out of left field, when I’m not fully expecting it. I’m trying to develop my talents as a humorist, and at times it’s hard to be funny. I can only imagine the time you put into your craft as stand-up comic and fine-tuning the lines to come out just right.

  7. I finished this book last week. I found it quite validating. I would shout about it from the rooftops, if I were a person who did that sort of thing.

    I’m an introvert, and so is my 13-year-old son. Poor kid is going to school at a time when group work is all the rage, but it’s the bane of his existence. I gave him the link to Susan Cain’s TED talk ( After he watched, he said he was going to send it to his teachers.

    1. As a teacher, I know that it’s not very often when group work achieves its goals. It’s not often when I have reciprocal learning or group work work the way it should. I remember asking my teachers if I could work by myself– I hope your son’s teachers are responsive!

      Thanks for the link and follow. I really enjoy your site.

  8. I’m not an introvert, but I am finding more and more that I need my quiet time. When I’m home alone, I don’t fill the space with music and/or tv. I just let the quiet be so I can hear my own thoughts. I seek out quieter spaces and I was never much of a partier. I think of it more as “la dolce vita,” the sweet life.

    1. We should all strive for “la dolce vita” (I’m sure being in Florence helps…). I am often at home without the tv on. I’m so over-stimulated throughout my day that it’s just more noise. Thanks for checking out my site!

      1. It’s fun to find other bloggers. I found you because you liked one of my posts. Thanks for checking out my site, too.

  9. i have always loved to read too! I was feeling guilty for turning down a fun family happy hour and dinner drinks on this fri. night, but i just wanted to write a post,read, relax. Maybe i am an introvert too. thanks for liking my post–led me to you and i enjoyed reading yours!

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