Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of IntrovertsYesterday I was privileged to be interviewed by five 8th graders as part of their Inquiry Project Living Library experience. In preparation, the students dedicated class time to self-reflection and exploration of their own identities and interests; selecting a focal point as an inquiry question; learning research methods; writing open-ended questions; and preparing in other ways for the interview. The next step for each of them is to prepare and give a presentation of their findings to students, teachers, and families.

So what did they interview me about? Being an introvert! Who knew that if you Google “Albuquerque” and “Introvert” you get me?! Their teacher saw my webpage and noticed that, in addition to being an introverted local business owner (I was described as such once in our local newspaper), I have a background in fine arts and engineering. She thought I would be perfect for her students with similar interests, who self-identified as introverts.

What introverted kids are wondering

Here are some of their questions:

  • Are introverts or extraverts more likely to play sports and, if so, what sports?
  • How is introvertendness/extravertedness related to cat/dog ownership? (LOL!)
  • How does being a reader and an introvert affect me in social situations?
  • Are there more introverted musicians/artists than extraverted musicians/artists?
  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of being an introvert?

We discussed the continuum between introvertedness and extravertedness; how introversion is not the same thing as shyness, but some people are both; how introverts can participate in group activities such as team sports but may prefer individual sports and activities; how important it is for readers to have a book handy at all times, but to also tear oneself away from reading occasionally and interact with real people; that it’s OK to decline or leave a social situation early in order to recharge one’s batteries; etc.

I don’t know who was more nervous, them or me? Can you imagine interviewing a grown-up as a kid? Yikes! A friend remarked that we must have had a great time. My reply:  “No, we were are all introverts. Therefore, none of us would call it ‘a great time’! Talking to strangers, are you kidding? LOL! But they did a great job of interviewing me, and I got to give back a little bit to my community.”

Hope for future introverts

Who knew kids were learning about, and identifying as, introverts? I wish teachers had known to do this when I was a kid! Another friend observed: “How great for them to see that being an introvert is simply one way that a successful adult can be, and that there can be coping strategies to help introverts in an extrovert’s world.” Yes. Exactly.

While preparing for the interviews (I was given some of the questions in advance) I learned that there’s a kid/teen version of Susan Cain’s book, called Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts. Of course, I told the kids about the book, and also about Susan Cain’s TED talk, The Power of Introverts. (They were all familiar with TED talks! I know lots of adults who, when asked, have never heard of TED talks.)

Run, don’t walk, to buy this book for your introverted kids!

Hazel Thornton is the introverted CEO (Chief Executive Organizer) of Organized For Life in Albuquerque, NM, and the author of Go with the Flow! The Clutter-Clearing Tool Kit for an Organized Life.