, Derry, New Hampshire


April 4, 2013

Column: Introverts crave the quiet times

Every weekday, many of my colleagues at Hampstead Middle School gather for lunch in the teachers’ room and talk about ...

Well, that’s just it. I have no idea what they talk about because I haven’t eaten lunch there for at least 10 years.

I prefer to eat alone in my classroom, where it’s quiet and peaceful, where I can spend my break reading the Washington Post online, or maybe writing a script for another edition of “Mr. Ed’s Historical Theater,” little one-act plays my sixth-grade students perform to help them understand the events that led to the American Revolution.

Does the fact that I often crave alone time make me an anti-social dweeb? No. It makes me an introvert. And for the estimated 30 percent to 50 percent of us who are introverts, Susan Cain’s “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking” gives us permission to be ourselves.

I’ve never run with the pack. I’ve always had, since childhood, a small but tight circle of friends. I’m a great listener, but a lousy schmoozer. The only thing I despise more than small talk is a blowhard who’s hopelessly in love with the sound of his own voice.

I prefer one-on-one discussions about serious matters. Sorry, but I’m not that interested in what you had for breakfast this morning.

The words you’re reading are being written at 4:45 in the morning. It’s blissfully quiet, save for the gentle scraping of ballpoint pen across notebook paper and the tick-tock of the clock in my living room. Two cats, Max and Lily, lounge in front of me, but they aren’t scintillating conversationalists either, and I like it that way. As Susan Cain writes, “There’s a word for ‘people who are in their heads too much’: thinkers.” And writers, many of whom are introverts.

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