social life is a performance

This May, I decided to re-read one of the most motivational books that is dedicated to introverts like me. Quiet, a book written by Susan Caine, tells stories of introverts in different aspects of life, and how they overcome the very active society. The phrase “social life is a performance” caught my attention simply because I agree and have never heard anyone mention it. But how true is this phrase?

Introverts are natural actors

According to the book, Quiet, most introverts act naturally positive towards other people. We are said to be capable of acting like extroverts for the sake of work we consider important, people we love, or anything we value highly. This act is called the Free Trait Theory. This theory entails that we are born and culturally endowed with certain personality traits, but we can and do act out of character in the service of “core personal projects.” Our lives are dramatically enhanced when we are involved in personal projects that we consider meaningful, manageable, and not unduly stressful.

An introvert’s take on the theory

The Free Trait Theory deeply reflects on my act and response to others. I noticed that I naturally become a talker when the topic is about something I am passionate or knowledgeable with. I used to think that I would never have friends in college because I don’t talk. But I had friends because I felt comfortable talking about school and class topics.

P.S. I’m not studious at all but for some reason talking about the lecture or classes, in general, makes me happy.

The theory works in public speaking as well. My first presentation in college was probably the most nerve-wracking moment since high school. But because the professor allowed us to pick a non-profit organization that speaks to us, I was able to deliver one of the best presentations in my whole student career. Thinking about the process made me realize the effectiveness of the Free Trait Theory.

Tips to feel comfortable during social events

I’d say that through experience, I managed to feel comfortable in some social events and gatherings. But I want to share a socializing trick that is mind-blowing. The book introduced Edgar as one of the quiet ones, and this is his simple trick: he’ll host parties to avoid presenting himself. What he means by that is, he doesn’t want to be the guest at someone else’s party because he has to be entertaining. But if he hosts parties, he becomes the center of things without being a social person. I think that’s a brilliant idea that I will always keep in mind.

But we can’t always host parties. So as crazy as it may sound, I always monitor myself and plan ahead of time. I ask myself questions like what is the party about, who are the other guests, what are the exciting things I did recently, etc. So if you ever see me mainly observing, that means I didn’t plan ahead.

Quiet by Susan Cain projects the power to permanently change how we see and be successful as introverts. She taught a lot of insightful ideas in the book, and one of the phrases that caught my attention was “social life is a performance.” I learned that introverts are natural actors who naturally act out of character in the service of personal projects that are considered meaningful and manageable. I realized that it deeply reflects on how I am in front of people, and thought that I can always make my way into these social events comfortably through self-monitoring and planning ahead. I can say that as an introvert, our social life is indeed a natural performance.



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