I titled this post in my head before I realized that Ode to Silence is a real poem, but I remember learning in high school that an “ode” is a love poem, and silence is undeniably one of my loves, so I felt justified in keeping it.
I self-identify as a textbook introvert. There are tons of posts and articles about introversion online (in addition to a recent favorite book, Quiet), but a lot of the descriptors in this post hit the nail on the head for me.
I recently had a thought as I was reflecting on some interactions I’ve had with faculty members and other Ph.D. students: It seems like in academia (or at least in the department I’m in), being comfortable with silence is a must. I find myself fairly frequently sitting silently face-to-face with a faculty member. Maybe I’m just an awkward person. Maybe my professors are too. Or maybe we’re just comfortable with pausing while we think. Today I asked a friend, also a student in my department, how the big neuroscience conference was that he just attended. His eyes bugged out a little as he told me, “Awesome, but as an introvert surrounded by 30,000 other people, I sort of wanted to go crawl into a corner. It was overwhelming.” In most of life, it seems like at least 75% of people are extroverted. Maybe that ratio is reversed in the environment I’ve chosen to immerse myself in. Is my perception a random and rare case, or is there something to it?