Published May 28th
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
If you’re an introvert go get a copy of Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come: One Introvert’s Year of Saying Yes!
OMG! This book! It was like reading a mirror. In my notes I wrote “this lady might actually be me.” I mean she even moved to China and took a job that terrified her. I took a job in China that forced me to spend 18 hours a week teaching a class of strangers and the other 22 hours planning (read stressing) about those classes. It was awful and amazing. I did both better and worse than I ever imagined I could and it was mostly better. Reading Jessica Pan’s experience of such a similar situation was rewarding and made me feel connected to a complete stranger like only a good book can.
Jessica Pan even had the same reaction to Quiet by Susan Cain as I did. I felt so relieved reading Quiet. It felt like it was okay to be more for once and it was okay to not want to talk to complete strangers and make friends in public places for no reason other than liking people. And just like Pan I used Quiet as an excuse to “accept” the introvert version of myself.
“I had taken my introvert status as a license to wall myself off from others.”
What that means was that I decided I had a license to hide from the whole world until I started to become agoraphobic and had a real panic attack every time I went into WalMart. I didn’t spend much time out of the house. I finished my master’s degree online and then stayed home with nothing to do and no one to talk to (my husband worked) and slowly retreated to a very dark place where there was no reason to wake up. Fast forward through China, finding out I have thyroid tumors (most likely benign), a couple self-help books, and the realization that I am responsible for my life and here I am today working in my career as a librarian and working at WalMart smiling and complimenting complete strangers. No panic attacks yet.
The only negative I have found in this is that it sometimes makes me less empathetic towards people who have anxiety. I still have anxiety, but it is much less than it was a year ago. I find myself inwardly shrugging when people tell me they haven’t taken enough anxiety meds to handle a slightly difficult day. I have to remind myself that one year ago I should have had a few doses of anxiety meds to handle getting out of bed before three in the afternoon. I have absolutely no room to judge anyone.
There were times when I thought “I’m not this bad” like when Jess is going to give a speech she stresses about for a month before it. But it was a speech for 900 people so I can only imagine the freak out and hyperventilating I would do in that situation. And when I started to feel too smug about how I would handle a speech well I remembered that I basically gave myself an ulcer from stressing myself out over teaching classes. Sooo yeah, take that self-righteous Kenzie.
However, I would still like to issue a small challenge. If you’re struggling, try one thing that makes you shudder. It doesn’t have to be “big” by anyone’s standards but yours.
“Nobody waves but everybody waves back.”
I’m very much the dive into cold water type of person so when I couldn’t handle a basic conversation with anyone I threw myself into one of the most populated foreign countries and forced myself to teach groups of teenagers for three hours per class. This is soo not what everyone should do. Small steps are very good.
I thought it was interesting that being an introvert stayed with Pan while traveling. I get that you don’t change just because your location does so it makes sense, but I’m judging it based on my experience. In my case I moved to China and I made a commitment to making friends and meeting new people. Basically while I was in China I pulled a “Jessica Pan” and tried to extrovert. It was easier because when I just couldn’t do it I could hide behind my husband. I also met another introvert who was the best and became known as a “goth on the inside.” Note: my husband is goth on the outside and that is how the subject came up for comparison.
This was such a rewarding read not only for the times when it felt like a reflection, but also for the times when it made me feel triumphant for the things I’m now able to do that I couldn’t do before.
I had one judgmental moment about her husband. **sort of spoiler** Her dad might die and her husband doesn’t even come with her? That was weird for me, but hey every relationship is different. **end of spoiler**
I would recommend this book for anyone who is an introvert or who loves an introvert. This book is especially great if you want to challenge yourself to be a little more gregarious.
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