Being a Quiet Girl in a Noisy World

Girl reading on a windowsill with hot cocoa and cookies on a tray.

I was looking at graphic novels on Goodreads when one caught my eye: Happily Ever After and Everything In Between by Debbie Tung. It looked interesting so I clicked on it. The description for the book started out, “From the author of Quiet Girl in a Noisy World and Book Love….” Quiet Girl in a Noisy World I thought, reading the title of Tung’s other book, now that sounds like a description of me, I need to learn more about THAT BOOK. So I looked it up. And it appeared to be everything the title promised, a book about life as an introvert in a world full of extroverts. Yep, I needed to read this book. I couldn’t get my hands on a physical copy of the book so I found it on Hoopla. I finished it later that day.

Quiet Girl in a Noisy World proved to be exactly the kind of read I was hoping it would be, a book with a character I could relate to, thus making me feel better about myself and knowing that I am not alone in my quiet life. This graphic novel tells the story of author Debbie Tung’s experiences as an introvert in an extravert’s world. The first half of the book takes place during Debbie’s last year of college and the second half of the book takes places after she graduates, enters the workplace, and gets married (to an extrovert).

Cover of Quiet Girl in a Noisy World

   Now I will say an interesting thing I learned after reading this book was I realized I’m not as introverted as I thought I was. Or at least I’m not as introverted as Debbie is. There were many scenes in the book where Debbie choose to stay home and read or yearned to be home reading rather than go out. You also get the impression that while she is happy to spend time with her extroverted husband, she does not need nor want to be constantly interacting with him. For example, there is a panel that has the caption, “the perfect date night,” and a picture of Debbie reading on the couch while her husband works on his laptop with his headphones on. This mentality is partially relatable to me. There are nights were I would rather sit at home and read, or watch TV or play video games, than go out. And there even nights were I would be content to have my fiancé off doing his own thing. But there are many nights (and days) were I would be just as happy, sometimes more happy out doing something. And at the very least, if we are both home I usually would prefer my fiancé to be sitting on the couch with me.

A girl thinks to herself "I'm exhausted already." after entering a party.

That all being said, there are many things about Tung’s book that I can relate too. I just mentioned that I enjoy going out. Like going out for food and drinks, or to the movies, with my fiancé, or a friend, or maybe another couple. Big social gatherings are a different thing for me though. Those I can only take in small doses.  At several times in the book, Debbie talks about and illustrates an inner social battery that she has (and probably most introverts do) that depletes over time the more she socializes.  I have this as well. Often, after working a full day at work with the public, I find I have very little social energy left when I get home. So hanging out with a large group of people is the last thing I feel like doing. On really bad days, I may barely feel like even talking much to my fiancé. I may find that while I may be fine going to a movie or a bar filled with people, I may not be in any mood to talk to any of them. And often I would rather be out in a theater or bar than at a party where talking to other people is more of a thing, a requirement of sorts.

There were some other things/scenes I could totally relate to in this book as well. One of the big ones were the flashbacks to Debbie’s childhood, in which she could be seen reading a book by herself while other children played together, or when a teacher (or some sort of school official) is sharing their concern with Debbie’s parents about how quiet Debbie is. And the panel with all the quotes she heard growing up, “you seem really sad,” “you should talk more,” and especially, “why are you so shy?” I heard that question way too much growing up, it drove me crazy. First of all, why does it matter? And second of all, I hated being labeled shy all of time. There is a difference between being quiet and being shy, and while I may have been shy as a little kid, I wouldn’t have called myself that by high school. And most importantly, there is so much more to me than this one personality trait. It was comforting to know someone else had to walk around with these labels too. I also found it relatable and comforting to read about Debbie’s discomfort in doing group projects, both in college and in the workplace. Group projects were never my favorite either, I work much better on my own. It was nice to know someone else felt the same way I did about this, as I don’t often encounter other people who share those feelings.

Girl stands hugging herself and crying as words of criticism about how quiet she is float around her.

I would recommend this book to all introverts, as it can be hard to be a quiet person in a noisy world, and knowing that you aren’t alone in your feelings is indeed very comforting. I would also recommend this book for extroverts, especially those that find it hard to understand the introverts in their lives. I think Quiet Girl in a Noisy World does a really good job conveying what it is like to be introverted, along with the idea that introverts are not necessarily shy, or stuck up, anti-social, or rude, they just have different social needs.


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