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Permission to Be Quiet

Here comes spring, and I’m eager to get outside. There’s nothing I enjoy more than Central Park on a sunny weekend afternoon.

I go for the fresh air and sunshine and pretty surroundings and exercise. I bring a book and I sit on a bench by myself and read…

…which is the sort of behavior that leads extrovert pals to frown in concern and ask me questions like this: Why don’t you socialize more? Why don’t you take a break from the books and get out and make some more friends? 

And it casts a shadow of self-doubt. Is there something wrong with me?

Susan Cain’s new book, Quiet; The Power of Introverts, is helping me feel like it’s OK to fully embrace my inner bookworm.

After all,

Depending on which study you consult, one third to one half of Americans are introverts – in other words, one out of every two or three people you know…If you’re not an introvert yourself, you are surely raising, managing, married to, or coupled with one. (p 4)

Many introverts pretend to be extroverts, because, especially in the US,

Introversion – along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness – is now a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology. Introverts living under te Extrovert Ideal are like women in a man’s world, discounted because of a trait that goes to the core of who they are. Extroversion is an enormously appealing personality trait, but we’ve turned it into an oppressive standard to which most of us feel we must conform (p 4).

Cain’s perspective resonates deeply with my fundamental sense that Otherness needs to be embraced and valued, and that most of us are way more OK than we might be led to feel. “Different” is, most often, a GOOD thing.

I’m looking forward to reading and sharing more Quiet.

Permission to Be Quiet

Leigh Pretnar Cousins, MS

Leigh Pretnar Cousins, MS is an educator, counselor, writer and speaker. She's been a tutor, test prep coach and home school teacher for over thirty years. Click HERE to visit Leigh's website and to subscribe to her newsletter, "Learning Something New."

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APA Reference
Cousins, L. (2012). Permission to Be Quiet. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2020, from


Last updated: 15 Mar 2012
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