Drawn to Being Withdrawn
posted June 24, 2013 2:56 PM by Sarah Barton
I have recently done an unusual amount of reading about solitude while also living a more solitary life than usual - I do not have classes, work less than thirty hours per week, and my significant other is interning in Washington, DC this summer. I am an introvert by nature, so this temporary low-key lifestyle is right up my alley. Any doubts about my chronic introversion were nullified by Susan Cain's Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. I also read The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Peale (as a counterbalance to The Positive Power of Negative Thinking by Julie Norem, which confirmed that I am quite the defensive pessimist, but that is a whole different story) and this speech by William Deresciwicz, both of which touch upon the importance of solitude and reflection in developing one's thoughts and cultivating one's best self. Over the past two weeks I have spent a bulk of my free time reading and writing instead of watching TV and socializing, and it has been rather refreshing. At this rate, I may very well morph into an even more quiet, contemplative, and introspective version of myself by the end of the summer. Sounds like a librarian in training, right?
No, no, NO! I have mentioned in the past how I despise the librarian stereotype, and as I read those books and reflected on my own tendencies, I realized that I do kind of come across as a "typical" librarian. Realistically, though, I am just a typical introvert who happens to be in library school. To my knowledge, there is no correlation or causation (also just finished Freakonomics) between the two, but a Google search for "library introvert" yields many more relevant results than one for "library extrovert." One of the "library introvert" search results is a definition of "introvert" from UrbanDictionary.com (which I have used in the past, but oddly don't recall learning about in my reference class), part of which reads: "Often found in their homes, libraries, quiet parks that not many people know about, or other secluded places, introverts like to think and be alone." That is not a particularly strong endorsement of introverted folks, and also takes a not so subtle shot at libraries (and librarians by association). For me, it's a good old-fashioned double whammy.
Despite my discontent with these negative associations, I'm not sure there's a whole lot I can do about them. I have absolutely no plans to abruptly become a raging extrovert and single-handedly thwart these blasted stereotypes. Akin to how I concluded my initial stereotype-bashing post: If I can be a good librarian, it doesn't matter whether or not I act like a librarian. My plan is to passively shatter the librarian stereotype by just being myself.