Introverts: The Next Generation

Yesterday I was privileged to be interviewed by five 8th graders as part of their Inquiry Project Living Library experience. In preparation, the students dedicated class time to self-reflection and exploration of their own identities and interests; selecting a focal point as an inquiry question; learning research methods; writing open-ended questions; and preparing in other ways for the interview. The next step for each of them is to prepare and give a presentation of their findings to students, teachers, and families.

So what did they interview me about? Being an introvert!

Who knew that if you Google “Albuquerque” and “Introvert” you get me?! Their teacher saw my webpage and noticed that, in addition to being an introverted local business owner (I was described as such once in our local newspaper), I have a background in fine arts and engineering. She thought I would be perfect for her students with similar interests, who self-identified as introverts.

What introverted kids are wondering

Here are some of their questions:

  • Are introverts or extraverts more likely to play sports and, if so, what sports?
  • How is introvertendness/extravertedness related to cat/dog ownership? (LOL!)
  • How does being a reader and an introvert affect me in social situations?
  • Are there more introverted musicians/artists than extraverted musicians/artists?
  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of being an introvert?

We discussed the continuum between introvertedness and extravertedness; how introversion is not the same thing as shyness, but some people are both; how introverts can participate in group activities such as team sports but may prefer individual sports and activities; how important it is for readers to have a book handy at all times, but to also tear oneself away from reading occasionally and interact with real people; that it’s OK to decline or leave a social situation early in order to recharge one’s batteries; etc.

I don’t know who was more nervous, them or me? Can you imagine interviewing a grown-up as a kid? Yikes! A friend remarked that we must have had a great time. My reply:  “No, we were are all introverts. Therefore, none of us would call it ‘a great time’! Talking to strangers, are you kidding? LOL! But they did a great job of interviewing me, and I got to give back a little bit to my community.”

Hope for future introverts

Who knew kids were learning about, and identifying as, introverts? I wish teachers had known to do this when I was a kid! Another friend observed: “How great for them to see that being an introvert is simply one way that a successful adult can be, and that there can be coping strategies to help introverts in an extrovert’s world.” Yes. Exactly.

While preparing for the interviews (I was given some of the questions in advance) I learned that there’s a kid/teen version of Susan Cain’s book, called Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts. Of course, I told the kids about the book, and also about Susan Cain’s TED talk, The Power of Introverts. (They were all familiar with TED talks! I know lots of adults who, when asked, have never heard of TED talks.)

Run, don’t walk, to buy this book for your introverted kids!

Hazel Thornton is a professional organizer and genealogist based in Albuquerque, New Mexico; creator of The Clutter Flow Chart Collection; and author of Go with the Flow! The Clutter-Clearing Tool Kit for an Organized Life. Visit her online at

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  1. Janet Barclay on November 18, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    Hazel, I found it exciting to learn how they found you and how much much they already knew about introversion. Sounds like it was a good learning experience for you as well! Thank you so much for sharing this!

    • Hazel Thornton on November 19, 2016 at 4:50 pm

      I know! The first several Google listings are about Introvert Retreat and that newspaper article we were both mentioned in!

  2. Sarah Soboleski on November 20, 2016 at 8:57 pm

    I so enjoyed reading this, Hazel! How great that you all pushed out of your comfort zones to make a nice connection. I loved their question about relatedness to cat ownership! I’ll have to check out Cain’s book.

  3. Seana Turner on November 23, 2016 at 11:28 am

    I loved Susan Cain’s book. I live with a family of introverts. I guess I am an extrovert in comparison, but certainly not on the far end of the spectrum. Each type has special gifts to offer to the world, and I’m glad to see introverts getting a bit of positive attention, instead of being repeatedly chided to “speak up.”

    • Hazel Thornton on November 28, 2016 at 6:54 pm

      Sounds like you understand introverts pretty well, Seana! It would definitely be helpful if more extraverts read Quiet too.

  4. Julie Stobbe on November 28, 2016 at 7:44 pm

    That is a fun article to read. What a great teacher to be able to combine the living library concept, entrepreneurship, personality types, journalism and interviewing skills into one lesson.

    • Hazel Thornton on November 30, 2016 at 11:03 am

      I, too, thought it was a great lesson. Also, research and public speaking!

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