Oh no, I thought. Yet another author is trying to make us introverts more extraverted. Worse, she claims to be an introvert herself – double shame, Carole Cameron, for turning against your own kind.
While I was relieved to read that the book is for introverts who want to remain true to their nature, I was still wary. You see, I am a perfectly happy introvert – and would make a most enthusiastic president if any of us ever had the desire to form a club. So I truly wanted the author to understand and support who her readers really are, and avoid the message that extraversion is where all the action is. Because for us, it’s not.
Happily, I needn’t have worried. In showing us introverts how we can get more out of our lives, Cameron has done a great job.
I warmed to the book only after the author made it clear that introversion does not mean a lack of social skills or regular retreats to the corner to play with our toes. Cameron describes our common characteristics via a list of our more colourful behaviours and attitudes. I laughed out loud at, “….you already have four perfectly good friends, and really don’t need any more.” And it’s true, I have to psyche up for most events that take place outside of what I call my rich inner life. (No, I don’t hear voices – not yet, anyway.)
Heartened and validated by her opening chapter, I really began to pay attention when she asked me to rate the different areas of my life. I gave the “super-duper, thanks very much” rating to every category. Except one. Yes, Carole, I guess maybe, just maybe, my introverted nature is not helping my love life. Come to think of it. the last guy to darken my door was a stranger asking for cash at 1 a.m. Perhaps I do need a change of direction here.
Mission identified, the book then took me through a five-step strategy for making the changes I want to achieve. There is lots to do – showcasing my strengths, making memorable connections, creating desired first impressions, managing my energy and, finally, making the big changes. In each area, Cameron gives lots of advice and concrete things to try – like using the phone more often. (We introverts hate phoning people – we like to order our pizza online. And get one of the kids to answer the door.)
Throughout the book, there are lots of charts to fill in and questions to answer. Cameron also incorporates temperament theory, which helps make her advice even more useful. Although her readers are all introverts, not all introverts are the same – she acknowledges that we come in all the different personality types.
I have to admit, I got some great ideas from the book. And while I would still drive 500 km alone rather than share the car with an acquaintance, Cameron’s goal was never to change who I am. She has helped me see that stepping out of my comfort zone could be a really good thing – not to gain better acceptance in this extraverted world, but to glean more of what I want from it.
I highly recommend this book for even the most well-adjusted among us. Because even happy introverts need to make a splash once in a while.