“Solitude matters. And for some people, it is the air that they breathe.”
I wonder what your first thought is when you read a line like that. Are you willing and able to admit immediately that it applies directly to you? Does it strike you as strangely poignant, like a sort of half truth that many people know but few of them actually voice? Or do you just snigger because it’s not the case for you, and you can scarcely imagine how it would feel to be that ‘lonely person with no friends’ to whom it supposedly applies?
Out of those three options, more of you probably picked the first one than you’d care to admit openly to a Western society in which the prevailing cultural attitude favours anything but solitude. Extroverted bias dominates the consciousness of our everyday life; the societal balance is not quite right, and it is only beginning to be readdressed. If you’re an extrovert yourself, or are one of those introverts who has spent your life aspiring to be one, you may take a slightly awkward offence to this, but rest assured that I have nothing against you personally.
Nor does Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (2012) and speaker in the short video that I wanted to share with all of you today. An introvert herself who let the attitudes of those around her dictate the direction of her life, Cain accurately covers the topic much better than I could in less than 20 minutes. She’s also a better speaker than you’d expect – certainly a lot more competent than some of the extroverts I know, anyway. So please check out the video. And for the many introverts that I know are out there, whether you wish to be open about it or not: be encouraged, for even in your blissful solitude, you are not alone.