I recently finished reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I appreciated this book in that I not only learned about key differences between extroverts and introverts, but it made me feel validated and appreciated as an introvert. Before now, I’ve often felt like a square peg trying to fit myself into a round hole. This is because I’ve been labeled as “shy”, “quiet”, or even “mousy” several times in the past. The author, Susan Cain points out, however, that 1/3 to 1/2 of people are introverts, but that our culture, our schools, and our workplaces tend to place more value on extroverts. Our culture even glorifies them. Cain discusses all the wonderful attributes of introverts such as being cautious in high risk situations. We’re less likely to end up in the hospital, drive too fast, lose a lot of money in the stock market or on bad business deals, etc. She does point out some of our disadvantages as well, though. For instance, we tend to be less efficient in doing tasks because we like to reflect on them first like spending some time studying a maze that we’re given on paper before we start trying to draw our way through it. Sometimes we’re TOO cautious. We can also lose out on opportunities due to our lack of charisma. Fortunately, many of us do come out of our shells if we’re asked to do or talk about something we’re passionate about. Maybe that’s why I enjoy being a librarian. I love reading. researching, and writing, and I like talking to kids about those things.
Anyway, my mom is doing a bit better, and her extroverted self is definitely back. The doctor increased her diuretic due to all the fluid on her lungs, and told her she’s to put her feet up more and use her oxygen concentrator during the day and not just at night. As a result, she’s not coughing nearly as much as she was, and she seems to have a bit more energy. What this means, however, is that she’s being more social and talking more. She’s always been extroverted and doesn’t like solitude. It makes her feel out of sorts. Meanwhile, I LOVE solitude and quiet, so it’s been a little bit of a challenge. I have to keep reminding myself that I should value the time that I have left with her, and let her talk about what she needs to talk about. In his book How to Say It to Seniors: Closing the Communication Gap with our Elders, David Solie asserts that seniors need to talk as part of their legacy. They need to talk about their past and basically relive it, sharing insights they feel are important in order to find closure and feel that their memories will live on through another generation.
I’m hoping that as my mom continues to get her strength back (if she does continue to), I will be able to be the kind of caring daughter that I would like to be. My mom and I did not get along very well the last time she lived with me. I really want this time to be different. An interesting quote in the aforementioned book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking was about a psychologist named Dan McAdams. Cain writes, “We all write our life stories as if we were novelists, McAdams believes, with beginnings, conflicts, turning points, and endings. And the way we characterize our past setbacks profoundly influences how satisfied we are with our current lives. Unhappy people tend to see setbacks as contaminants that ruined otherwise good things…while generative adults see them as blessings in disguise…Those who lives more fully realized lives…tend to find meaning in their obstacles” (Cain 263). This really resonated with me because I used to be one of those unhappy people who would be mired in feelings of sadness or resentment or guilt over past events, but now I’m trying to let go of those feelings and instead, learn from the past and see events as a chance at growing. Therefore, I’m choosing to see this second chance with my mom as an opportunity to be both more patient and assertive, taking advantage of the time and distance I’ve had for reflection on the lessons I’ve learned.