One of the more useful books I read in the past year was Quiet by Susan Cain, which is all about introverts who have to live in a world largely designed for extroverts, and I just started listening to the audiobook of Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin, which provides a breakdown of personality types by how one tends to handle internal and external expectations.
I’d generally find personality breakdowns to be fun but ultimately reductive. They’re dangerous as a crutch, right?
I still think so, but I’ve learned they could be useful as a scaffold.
Reading Cain’s intense examination of introversion helped build and inform my empathy towards my kids, who had clear indicators of introversion. I began to see that some of the things that frustrated me about them came from causes and factors that weren’t immediately apparent. I’ve learned better to honor their feelings and anxieties and stop pushing or excusing their way of being.
I still jokingly call JB the “Queen of the Cold Shoulder,” mostly to salve the social consequences of her shyness, but I now see that when she’s familiar with her company that she’s inclusive and friendly and playful and downright garrulous. And she’s reaching that level of comfort with more ease as she matures.
It’s useful to be reminded that one’s kids are their own people — and that their worldviews are not only developing, but different from your own.