A Holiday Manifesto for Introverts
As often happens with blogging, just as I ask myself why the heck I'm doing this, I discover some new thing that delights. Today, it's Susan Cain's blog. She's the well-known author of the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking.
The holidays are hard on introverts, I think that's a given. Which doesn't mean we don't enjoy many aspects of them. I found the following manifesto by Cain to be useful in thinking about how I want to be.
The Quiet Revolution Manifesto
by Susan Cain
- There is a word for “people who are in their heads too much”—thinkers.
- Solitude is a catalyst for innovation.
- The next generation of quiet kids can and must be raised to know their own strengths.
- Sometimes it helps to be a pretend-extrovert. There is always time to be quiet later.
- But in the long run, staying true to your temperament is the key to finding work you love and work that matters.
- One genuine relationship is worth a fistful of business cards.
- It’s okay to cross the street to avoid making small talk.
- “Quiet leadership” is not an oxymoron.
- Love is essential; gregariousness is optional.
- “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” —Mahatma Gandhi
I wrote this next short piece a couple of holidays ago, and it's going to appear in my forthcoming book, Spring 2018, The Flower Can Always Be Changing.
An Imaginary System
by Shawna Lemay
At the beginning of each year I come into possession of a certain number of extrovert tokens. I need to ration the tokens through the year, until the next allotment. Well before Christmas I’m running a sizeable deficit. Converting any of my introvert tokens into extrovert tokens is unthinkable; I know I’m destined to permanent insolvency.
As for me, my own manifesto for the holidays might look something like this:
A Holiday Manifesto for Introverts
1. Enjoy what you do enjoy. Do those things that give you joy. Hang out with the friends that get you and make you laugh and know you're a nerdy weirdo and love that about you. If you like looking at lights, do that. If you enjoy going to the movies, do that. If you like sitting by the fire with a book, yup, do that.
2. Feel the feelings. Know you're not alone. If you're feeling blue, feel it. Listen to Joni Mitchell's Blue all day long if you want to. The holidays are complicated, families are complicated. I've not met anyone who doesn't have odd and messy feelings during the holidays. The slights and heartbreaks that are relatively easy to ignore during the rest of the year can really cut and throb now. I also recommend taking your feelings out for a long walk. They don't seem so intense when you're outdoors, somehow.
3. You are allowed to use the internet any way that works for you. You can post or not post, lurk or not lurk, comment and like, or not. Just remember all the ways in which social media manipulates us. Not everyone will see what you post, and you won't see everything they post. When you don't interact on Facebook, you really disappear from each other. There are friends I know IRL who I hardly ever see on FB leaving me wondering if we're still friends at all. Which is odd, if you think about it, and sad. Also, no one's life is as great as the photos they post. Every photo has a back story. For example, the cookies at the top of this post? Once decorated, they looked so hilariously silly! The icing ran, and the chocolate chips I used for eyes on the people floated to the sides, and some stuck on the edges. Very Picasso. I put a heart on the mitten cookies and it ran and looks like a strange blob. They'll probably taste okay?
4. It's okay to disappear for a while. So yah. Disappear! Turn off the internet. Don't answer the phone. Go for a long walk. Hide out in your room for the day. Find a cozy chair and make of it a boat in a calm sea. I feel better just saying that.
5. Seek beauty. If you read this blog, you know what I'm talking about. Do it. Take photos. Write about a tree. Look at art on a museum website. Go to a gallery. Stare at clouds. Listen to Mozart.
6. Say no when you need to. Repeat after me: Sorry, I can't make it, I already have plans. You don't even have to say sorry if you don't want to.
7. Books can be friends too. Every year I read an old classic, or re-read a favourite. Last year it was Middlemarch. I almost always re-read a Jane Austen book. Last night I read the last half of Emma. Another year it was Villette.
8. Be weird. Be true to yourself. I think that one stands on its own. :)
9. Sit in corners. If you're in a big group, it's not such a bad strategy. I like talking to people one on one, so if I situate myself at the edges, this is more likely to happen. Some other introvert will come and sit by me. I never expect myself to be the life of the party and give myself permission to be a listener, a fly on the wall, the person who pets the family dog.
10. Make something. Austin Kleon wrote a short post about this, though his advice was to make something for somebody. So long as you realize that that somebody can also be you. If you don't have tons of money, pick up a pencil and a piece of paper and draw something. It doesn't have to be good. Just have fun. Paint, doodle, bake, write, sculpt, collage. Lose yourself in making for a while.
I hope the above makes sense. I wrote it quickly before running off to work :) I'm wishing you all the happiest of holidays, some time alone, as much quiet as you need, and all the things that you do enjoy. I'll be taking time off from the blog, I imagine, until after New Year's. May beauty find you, may you find beauty. xo Shawna