I sometimes wonder how we were in the womb—as two introverts sharing that tiny space—with no escape, nowhere to go to recharge, and nowhere to just be…alone. Limbs entangled (she still blames me for her wonky toe which I affectionately call “the grub” on account of its crooked worm‐like appearance; I blame her for my mild claustrophobia, which is triggered when even just one other person shares an elevator with me). I sometimes wonder what happened when, as two introverts sharing that tiny space, one of us just needed to “switch off.” Was there a mutual understanding and agreement between us to just be still? Were we able to turn to quiet even with the constant noise engulfing us?
I believe wholeheartedly that this facet of our being—the thing that makes up the deep core of who we are—was ingrained in both of us the moment that the cells of our parents united and we took our place next to each other in that tiny space. I believe that this part of us is as innate as the freckles on my face, the deep brown colour of her eyes, or the curls in both of our hair. We couldn’t change it even if we wanted to.
And believe me when I say that over the years, there have been many times when we’ve both longed to. School report cards always read the same: “Groves Twin [insert name as appropriate] is smart, conscientious, and hardworking but needs to learn to speak more in class.” Fast forward 20 years, and performance reviews at work were not much different. Despite the associated “A+s” and performance review pay raises, the direct “attack” on who we intrinsically are resulted in much angst and despair on our part.
Over many years, our introversion and associated anxiety with working, living, playing, and loving in an extroverted world was something that my twin and I would only speak about in whispered tones. Don’t say the “i” word—no one understands. That was, until I stumbled across the TED Talk by Susan Cain. I remember my eyes widening as I watched the video. Finally, someone was using the “i” word in a positive sense! For the first time, I felt normal, accepted, and even a little proud of being an introvert in an extrovert’s world. I immediately emailed it to my twin and implored her to watch it. She had the same reaction.
So, what has changed for us since we discovered Quiet? Slowly, we are learning to embrace the introvert in ourselves and in each other. We acknowledge that we exist in this extroverted world with people who may not understand our complex and (probably sometimes) frustrating ways, but we hope that those who matter to us will continue to respect and love us anyway.
And there are so many things to love! I love the consideration that my twin takes in analyzing an idea and shooting back a smart, measured, clever response that would have, no doubt, impressed the teachers in high school had they given her the space and environment to flourish. I love that my adventurous spirit has found peace in hiking through quiet forests and scaling large mountains alone—recharging from the hours, days, and years of noise. I love that we now feel comfortable to say out loud—not in a whisper—“yes, I am an introvert, and yes, I have a lot to contribute if you would only listen, even to the silence.” I love that there is a Quiet Revolution upon us and that this book is resonating with people around the world.
For my twin and me, it is still a work in progress. There is still anxiety and worry about being introverts in this world, particularly in our working lives, where those who talk the most seem to get ahead. We still reluctantly avoid situations where we haven’t quite learned to thrive yet—presentations to large groups of unfamiliar people or large social events where we only know the host. But I know I speak for both of us when I say that Quiet has helped us to better understand and appreciate the core of our beings, why we are the way we are, and the contributions we can make.
I also know that I am supremely lucky to have spent nine months sharing that tiny space and another 36 years on the outside with a most amazing person, who makes me laugh; who makes me cry; who has experienced the joys, challenges, and frustrations of being an introvert by my side; and who tells me when I’m being foolish but who loves me anyway. She is my heart and my soul—my (quiet) twin.