Second Class Personality?

I recently read Susan Cain’s book titled Quiet after hearing reviews saying that all introverts should read it. After reading it, I did find it very enlightening in some aspects of my personality (I already knew I was an introvert). Cain defines an introverted person as someone who is drawn to inner worlds, who focuses on meanings of events, who work slowly, who listen more than they talk. She makes distinctions between introverts and extroverts, and why certain social customs bother introverts. I, personally, hate small talk. I don’t know how to do it, nor do I see the point in it. If we are going to talk, I want to really know about you, not your opinion of the weather and gossip from work. Cain says that this is because introverts tend to think in more complicated ways, and therefore small talk isn’t interesting.

Cain also calls out that our society has labeled introverts as a second class personality trait, something unwanted and that will limit your success. She describes the program at the Harvard Business School, and how, since early on, students are forced to socialize, to interact, to be extroverts, just like in the business world. For those who are extroverts, this isn’t too hard, but those who aren’t find themselves in unwanted situations. Although Cain makes an excellent case for the advantages of having introverts in the business world (slower and more rationalized thinking, for example), I am of the opinion that certain fields need certain personalities.

Like I said, I am an introvert who hates small talks and speaking in public. However, I love teaching, and consider myself to be a good teacher. I had to work with my introvert personality to be able to work with my students. If I didn’t work with my introvert personality, I would end up a very knowledgeable (hopefully) teacher with no tools to share with my students, much like the stereotype of a brilliant college professor that gives the most boring lectures to the board and not to the students. As an introvert teacher, I was able to enjoy the extroverted personality of my students, and understand the introverted personality of others. I gave introverted students their space and time, and supported them as they came out of their shell. I pushed myself to develop a workable introverted personality, where I can be outspoken in certain situations and sit back and listen in others.

The personality descriptions and situations in which both personality types have to interact put a lot of things into perspective. One such section was being an introverted parent to an extroverted child. Both my boyfriend and I are introverts, however, this is no guarantee that our children will be. I have also noticed that a lot of my friendships are with extroverted people. Personally, I enjoy their personalities and I enjoy hearing their stories. I also enjoy, after some time with them, to retreat to a quieter place and breathe.

The latter part of the book became much more of a “self-help book” which I must admit I was disappointed with. I am not a fan of self-help books; I was looking for a mere analysis of introverts so that I can do my own self-help. I know this is a very personal opinion, and many people will find the book as a whole very helpful. Overall Quiet is a great read about introverted personalities, and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in the topic.


Where will I work with an English Degree?

After years of wanting to study a masters, I finally started this September. The title of the study program is “Art, Literature and Society” and it falls under the Humanities/Social Sciences/Liberal Arts area. My bachelor’s was in English Literature so this is right up my alley with a big bonus of making it more “real world oriented.” I have the option of doing a regular research thesis or a combination internship-internship thesis to culminate everything I learned throughout the year. I originally wanted just a thesis because I am all about researching and writing in my PJ’s (thank you world wide web and online databases), but the idea of getting work experience here in the Netherlands has made me consider the internship.

As I look through internship possibilities and wonder about what I would like to focus on for the thesis, I keep questioning the practicality of my bachelors and masters degree. Eleven years ago when I started my bachelors, I knew very well that I was destined for a life of small poorly paid job opportunities that would make me incredibly happy. I still have that same mentality, but my accountant/finance/business boyfriend has made me reconsider. Am I really destined for a meager salary? What is the importance of what I am studying and what can I, with all my studies and work experience (translator, writer, teacher) offer?

I still haven’t figured this out on a personal level, but I just read an article that gave me hope that I do have marketable, practical and necessary skills for the work field. “Two Reasons You’re An Idiot If You Don’t Hire Humanities Majors” explains, in a very funny way, the skills humanities majors have to offer the business world. I don’t think the skills of all humanities/social sciences/liberal arts majors are limited to just the ones Peter Weinberg mentions, but it is a start!

The Scars We Carry

We carry scars from what we’ve lived, where we’ve been and what we’ve done. These scars tell our stories, for it isn’t one story that makes up our lives, but a combination of stories.

We have stories of playgrounds and friendships, and scars that go along with those stories. We’ve bumped and bruised our knees, our arms, our faces, our hearts and our souls. We have stories of teenage hardships and heartbreak, scars of anticipation turned into disappointment, of hopes and dreams turned into nightmares. We have stories of family arguments and problems, stories of tears and sadness. With those stories come the scars with the pain and the itch, the burning and irritation.

But we don’t only carry scars. We carry band aids and disinfectant and mommy’s kisses that make everything better. We carry band aids of understanding, of listening, and of nurturing. We carry band aids that smell like grandmother’s cooking, that sound like the laughter of mom, that feel like our sisters, and taste like the kisses of those we love.

We carry the scars and the band aids, we carry the hurt and the healing, we carry the tears and the laughter. We carry it all, all in our hearts.

“But the thing about remembering is that you don’t forget.”
-Time O’Brien, The Things They Carried


How well do we treat people?

I recently read a quote that said “The measure of a society’s freedom is not how it treats its good, obedient citizens; its how it treats it dissidents” (Glenn Greenwald). I’ve been reading about different topics that oddly enough relate to this (democracy, progress, the murder of a controversial film producer, immigration problems, missing students in Mexico), and I couldn’t agree more with the quote. Treating good citizens well is nothing strange. I remember a teacher friend once told me that teaching the high level English groups was nothing extraordinary. They tend to get the job done. The interesting groups are the low level groups or the students that just don’t want to do the work. Getting them to work, to learn, to become better people is what is key.

I am not trying to say that we must change these dissidents to good obedient citizens. Some people refuse to change for many reasons which are irrelevant to this post. What we need to observe in our country, our cities, our work and even with our family is how do we treat those people who are outside of what we consider correct. First and foremost, we should treat everyone with respect. I have caught myself many of times treating people who have hurt me or who I disagree with with disdain. They are not in my circle so I don’t care about them. Is that fair?

I am a terribly optimistic person that believes that every person’s actions can make the difference. I know I have no real, immediate influence in what happens in politics. I cannot end discrimination, I cannot demand prisoners or protesters to be treated fairly and have any real immediate effect. What I can do is treat those around me well, and hope they do too. Slowly but surely, this basic humane action will spread. It seems like a better plan than to just sit around and complain of abuses.