I don’t know how many of you would be familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality test (you can take it for free at 16personalities.com), but to those of you who are, I fall under their category, ‘The Mediator’, or INFP (Introverted, iNtuitive, Feeling, Prospective). You can actually learn a whole lot about me simply by typing those four letters into a search bar, but this is a book review, not speed-friending, and the only thing I want to talk about right now is introversion.
Quiet Girl in a Noisy World is a graphic novel about the struggles Tung faces due to being an introvert in an extrovert’s world. The art isn’t anything overwhelmingly complicated, but instead compiled of soft grey tones and simple yet expressive characters. Because of these wonderful visuals, before you even read a word, your mind feels relaxed. One glance at Tung’s Instagram (@wheresmybubble) shows she is capable of hyper realistic styles, capturing movement in cities especially well – but the doodle style chosen for this book, in my opinion, is more than a perfect fit. The only fitting way I can describe how it made me feel is to imagine it as a cup of tea for the brain. Soothing, warm, and much needed.
Had Santa Claus not brought this piece to my attention, however, I would not be writing this review today. It was a pleasant surprise in my stocking this Christmas, and I enjoyed it so much that before my family had even begun to eat breakfast, I was close to finishing the whole thing. I positively devoured it. It was as if Tung and I were twins, separated at birth, destined to find each other despite the cruel twists and turns of Fate—
Everything, down to keeping a book in a bag for company, mirrored my thought patterns, my feelings, and my general way of being. I simply could not believe how eloquently she had voiced some of my innermost feelings in just four short panels.
The novel doesn’t exactly have a plot – it follows Tung’s life over the span of about two years, during a period where neglecting the introverted side of herself became debilitating for her. There are snippets on dating, college parties, job interviews, dreaded phone calls, flashbacks to primary school, and an extensive amount on comfy clothing and good books. (Spoiler alert: it’s a happy ending).
Tung reveals towards the end of the novel that, having taken the Myers-Briggs personality test, she was an INFJ (Introverted, iNtuitive, Feeling, Judgement), a personality type that makes up less than one percent of the population.
Upon discovering this, she turns to her husband and exclaims, “Do you know what this means? I’m not weird after all! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with me! I’m completely normal!!!”
This quote, in particular, struck a chord with me. It was a revelation to find out that I was not alone in this exhausting experience; I feel terrible for avoiding socialising, and I feel terrible taking part in socialising. When I want to see my boyfriend, I don’t often want to speak, but sit in comfortable silence or relax together, me reading in one corner, him playing video games in the other. I’ve even found it impossible to keep up part-time work during the college year, because the amount of time I spent around people was becoming detrimental to my mental health.
Being an introvert can make you feel like a total an utter freak, even when you know you’re introverted. I took the Myers-Briggs test years ago, and there are still weeks where I can’t understand how I’ve burned myself out so terribly just by seeing my beloved friends.
Here’s the thing, though: when you’re an introvert, it doesn’t matter if you’re out on the lash with your favourite person to ever exist across all of time and space, eventually, you’re going to be so incredibly sick and tired of them that you may well just pass out then and there.
Tung, in less than 200 pages, made me feel understood in a way that I hadn’t been before. I took the book and shoved it into my boyfriend’s hands, watching, on the edge of my seat, as he read it. Some parts made him laugh and point accusingly at me, when he recognised strange things I do for seemingly no reason. Other parts made him double take, or quietly squeeze my hand in his own.
“Oh,” he mumbled. “Oh.”
Quiet Girl in a Noisy World is the ultimate handbook on how to understand yourself, or someone else, as an introverted person. Maybe you’ve got a super quiet friend, or significant other, or sibling, that you’ve never been quite able to figure out – chances are, Tung will explain everything. Even for those who don’t consider themselves bookworms, I would highly recommend picking Quiet Girl up; its simplicity in both its art and its language make it super accessible and relaxing to page through. It definitely earned its place as one of my favourite reads of 2017.