Introverts for (Class) President!
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All my life, I’ve been a HUGE fan of Peanuts. (You, too?) My favorite character was philosophical Linus. I also loved the whole idea of Charlie Brown – even when I was a kid, I sensed what Charles Schulz said about his creation: “I didn’t realize how many Charlie Browns there were in the world. I thought I was the only one.”
One character I never thought about much was Marcie: the bespectacled brunette who serves as Peppermint Patty’s unofficial lieutenant, even addressing her as “Sir.”
But this week, the spotlight’s on Marcie: Apple TV is about to debut a new Peanuts special, focusing on her strengths – as an introvert. So far, I’ve only seen the trailer, but it looks GREAT:
I’m very proud to say that my friend and intellectual compatriot, the cognitive scientist Scott Barry Kaufman (with whom I collaborated on both my Introversion and Bittersweet personality tests) served as the introvert consultant on the special. (The film was directed by Raymond Persi and the script was written by Betsy Walters and executive produced by Craig Schulz (son of Charles Schulz)). Go, SBK!
The conceit of the episode is that Marcie, who loves solitude and hates the spotlight, finds herself elected class president. And maybe this sounds to you like a far-fetched, only-in-cartoons kind of thing.
But it’s not. The list of introverts in leadership positions is long, illustrious, and ever-growing. And in my book Quiet Power, which I wrote for teens and pre-teens, I told the true story of a ninth grade guy who was EXACTLY like Marcie.
Davis, by his own description, was shy, nerdy, nervous…and elected class president. He ran against one of the most popular girls in school – but the students chose him because he showed that he’d paid deep attention to their concerns (about where they were allowed to sit at lunch, and how they could get help with academic questions). And he came to them with substantive solutions.
It’s so important for quiet kids (and grown-ups) to have role models showing them all they can do in this world. And it’s so important for the parents of these kids to believe in them, and to encourage them to do things their own way.
Your Letters to Me
So this week’s reader letter is about a shy golden retriever, and his loving dog-parents. (Shyness is not the same thing as introversion, but they’re both relevant.) If you know a shy child, please pay close attention to this one – it tells you everything you need to know about how to encourage cautious kids to meet the world – on their own terms:
Here you see my daughter, my son in law (Tony), and their dog Tucker. Tucker, by breed, is a water dog. But by nature, he has been so afraid of the water! I mean he’s never gone in our pool. Not even a single toe!
You should have seen the process today. These 2 dog parents, affording Tucker so much patience, and when Tucker was willing to risk putting a single paw in, sooo much praise and happiness!
Today after many steps, and much time wrestling with his fear, Tucker put all 4 paws on the first step of the pool (of his own volition!). And then Tony carried him out a few feet and let him swim back to the steps.
And all this time, I watched this dog deal with his anxiety, and find some confidence with each “win”, and all this time I realized that IF they choose to have children THIS is the kind of parents they will be.
It is a small thing in the scheme of things, but I really feel that all that really matters is made up of small things given to the life of “beings”.
Today, Tucker became a water dog. Today he faced his fears while surrounded by love and patience and the support for each of his wins, and he took a step forward toward becoming who he is.
It was just amazing to watch!
PS: I put the above sentence in bold because I love it so much: ALL THAT REALLY MATTERS IS MADE UP OF SMALL THINGS GIVEN TO THE LIFE OF BEINGS.
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I’m always very glad you’re here, and do not take it lightly,