Wednesday, May 16, 2012


It was the summer of 1996. My family had just moved from Pittsburgh, PA, where Brinns and Rosens had lived, and loved, and grown, and learned, for nearly four generations. We landed in Jacksonville, Florida. A sleepy southern town on the Florida-Georgia border full of strip malls, strange accents, college football, and wide-open spaces.

Two months after the move I started eighth grade. On my first day of school I got acquainted with "Zero Hour," my school's name for the half hour between when school opened and the start of the first period of the day. Zero Hour was for studying, make-up tests, finishing homework, and other such activities. But no one really used it for that. Mostly, it was used for socializing. For talking with friends, for telling stories, and for whispering secrets in that deliciously sly way that only teenage girls can. 

For most at my school, Zero Hour was the best part of the day.

For me, it was hell.

For five years, stepping onto campus for this hour made my hands shake. My stomach knot. My mind race. Who am I going to talk to? What are we going to talk about? Can I fill an entire half hour? Why hasn't the bell rung yet? 

If I could find an uninhabited place on campus where I could read a book, my mind would quiet, and the half hour would race by. But out in the open, surrounded by the masses? Severe, palpable anxiety.

It seemed like everyone was the same. Everyone loved this half hour, except for me. I tried to be like everyone else, but trying proved harder than not trying at all.

I was different. I am different.

It is no accident that I came to love romance novels as much as I do. Because I discovered them during those mad, uncertain high school days. In the comfort and solitude of my own home I could sink into those books, into those stories, and stay there for hours. And in those hours my anxiety from the day would melt away.  

I felt varieties of this same emotion when I left Jacksonville for the suburbs of Boston and Brandeis University. I loved college, but still, I felt different. Because while the people around me loved to go out, I preferred to stay in. Because I spent the first night of college surrounded by romance novels, and enjoyed it. Because I liked small groups instead of big parties, and small classes instead of big lecture halls. 

I was lucky, so amazingly lucky, to meet a group of friends who loved and accepted me for exactly who I was. Even if I was not sure exactly who I was. Or what it was that made me different. And we held hands and twirled our way through those crazy beautiful college days together. After college we all moved to New York together, and through grad school, first jobs, new jobs, engagements, weddings, babies, and more have remained the best of friends. 

But still, I didn't quite understand. I didn't understand why my first inclination was to think rather than act. I didn't understand why I left parties drained and exhausted, feeling like I could sleep for days. Why I preferred to stay in on Saturday night even when the boy who would later become my husband liked to go out. Why in three years of law school I never joined a study group, despite the dean's warning of certain failure without one. Why I spent the entire summer after law school graduation alone in my apartment studying for the bar exam, instead of joining all my classmates in the library.

All of these things felt so incredibly right to me, but so vastly different than everyone else.

And I struggled. Not all the time.  But sometimes I did. Because it seemed wrong to do what came naturally to me. What felt right and what felt comfortable. It seemed wrong for a long time. Until. 

Until one day about three years ago. I was home in Jacksonville for a visit when my mom insisted that we all take the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. So we did. I learned that I am what the test calls an "ISTJ"

Upon my return to New York, because I am a curious sort, I started to read on-line descriptions of my so-called personality profile.

And I had, what dear Oprah Winfrey would call an "Aha Moment." Because the websites were describing me. Me. Exactly how I feel. Exactly how I think. Exactly what I want.

It seems silly to say that these descriptions changed me, but they did. Because they validated the way I feel and think. They gave me the comfort and the strength to be myself. And they helped me understand exactly who I am. And that who I am is something to be celebrated and nurtured. 

I am an introvert. And so are many of you, because we are everywhere. I am quiet. I like the quiet. I often like to be alone. I prefer the company of close friends and family to a room full of strangers. I don't like conflict. I have to think before I can speak. I like low key schedules. After work I need to go home and recharge. I often work in rooms with the lights off. I like to work alone. I can read, alone, for hours at a time.

I am an optimist. This is me. And I am proud.

And I am lucky, so lucky, to have a family who embraces me. To have a husband who not only understands me, but who sees me. Who encourages me. Who helps me find my way. Who doesn't mind going it alone on a Saturday night when his wife decides to stay at home.

The past few years have been filled with a new kind of self-awareness. A deep understanding of who I am and where I fit. In my family. In my life. In my little piece of the word. And those years have also brought a keen insight into what I am meant to do.

Only when I gave myself permission to be quiet did I discover a vast well of creativity within me. And a surprising need to share it. 

So in quiet rooms I read my books, write my words, spin my stories and share a piece of myself with you. And I am grateful. 

I am an introvert.

This is me.

And I am proud.


  1. I will admit that this was the first posting that I read from start to finish because unlike you, Brinn, it takes me longer to read things and I hadnt found the time before. All I gotta say is, you go girl! Three cheers to you following your dream of writing romance novels, or just continuing to write eloquently and in a very engaging way!

  2. I relate intensely to this, and also loved Susan Cain's book. My "I" is something that I've often experienced as a liability or a weakness, and learning that it has tremendous gifts was one of my favorite revelations in Quiet. xoxo

  3. I, too, am an introvert. There's a book called "Party of One: The Loners' Manifesto" by Anneli Rufus that had me saying, "This is ME," on almost every page. I recommend it.

  4. "I am an introvert.

    This is me.

    And I am proud."

    I can't tell you how much I love these words, and this post. So wonderful and real. And now I really can't wait to read this book.


  5. <3 I have yet to finish this book, but I have basically highlighted every page and been filled with kind of joy mixed with epiphany and comfort. The book was like reading about myself. I even had "needs to come out of her shell" in every report card, something mentioned in Quiet. I felt like hugging the book and wish it had existed when I was a child, so that people would have understood me better. It would have helped me know that the painfully shy, intellectually mature, too sensitive wierdo (me) was not to weird after all, that I was an amazing person who merely fit "introvert" and "over reactive" to a T. That it would all be okay.

    I enjoyed your post and will read it again, and will now go try and finish Quiet!

    We are normal and awesome afterall, and we don't need a pep rally to tell us so

  6. I thought I had commented here already, but I guess not. Yet another thing we have in common! I wrote about introversion on Monday in conjunction with the HS launch. Beautiful piece.