March is a month when we celebrate women throughout history. Women and girls who have inspired us, opened our eyes, and in some way shaped the course of our lives, are honored during Women’s History Month. It holds no prejudice to age, beauty, or status.
For me, outside of friends and family, there is one woman who quietly stands out amongst the crowd: Author Susan Cain.
But first, let me tell you more about myself, and you will see why I admire her. I’ve always been someone who sits in the middle of the introvert / extrovert spectrum. Known as an ambivert, I show characteristics of both, but (as ironic as it sounds) my introvert voice is louder. I love being around people, going out and being social. But at the same time I also love small groups and gatherings. And although I’m ambitious and go outside my comfort zone a lot, I’ve always been happy to take a back seat and let others speak up. Usually only speaking up when I feel that something needs to be stood up for.
This at times has been a problem for me while working in the advertising industry. It’s full of big personalities and voices. You have to sell your ideas. While I confidently believe in my creative ideas, sometimes the ones who ‘talk the talk’ naturally fall into the leadership roles and ultimately do better. It’s also particularly important to be able to stand your ground in an industry that’s dominated by men. Full of boys clubs and bravado, it can be hard enough being a woman, let alone a quiet one, in this environment.
I first came across Susan Cain while scrolling through Ted Talks one night. Watching her talk I finally felt like someone understood me. For those not acquainted with Susan Cain, she talks about the power of introverts.
Suddenly, instead of trying to be something I wasn’t, I felt like I could be myself.
I felt a boost after watching her Ted Talk and it spurred me on to read her book QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. I found this life-changing. It helped me understand that I wasn’t ‘shy’ like I had been labeled countless times. And not only that the way I was and wanted to work was actually of real value, but that great contributions to our society throughout history were made by introverts. And unfortunately, today’s culture was stamping this out.
Introverts: Find your voice.
When I think back to myself as a child, I was happy and confident until I hit middle school. Suddenly, I slowly felt my confidence dwindle in an environment that favours extrovert behaviour. What Susan Cain does now, which I think is so important, is give children and teens the information and resources they need to survive and thrive. She works with schools, teachers, and parents, to help give them the tools they need to empower quiet children, rather than send them deeper into their shells. It’s such an important time in children’s lives, and they shouldn’t feel overshadowed by bigger voices. And they shouldn’t doubt their own. They need to know their own strengths. We need to nurture quieter personalities and understand that it’s beneficial to everyone to advocate much more autonomy, freedom and privacy to work on our own. This should be nurtured instead of discouraged.
Introversion and extroversion are central to human nature. It’s not all black and white and we often show signs of both. When you’ve always tried to go against what feels normal to you to fit in an ‘extrovert’ world, you deplete yourself and your confidence. As a society we prize extroverts and undervalue introverts, but Susan empowers us to have the courage to “speak softly.” If you’ve ever had any self doubts I’d encourage you to watch her Ted Talk. You’ll soon realise that you’re not alone.
Who do you want to celebrate and honor during Women’s History Month? Who do you want your children to look up to? Please share with us in the comment section on here and on Facebook! Use #womenshistorymonth and #srqmom.
Here are two more Women’s History Month blogs by SMB contributors: