An introvert space for the introvert era.


Introvert Interview, with Sarah Van Winkle

Sarah_Introvert_BWWelcome to our Introvert Interviews series, where we talk to introverts from all walks of life about their experiences and their introversion.

Meet Sarah Van Winkle. She’s is a physical therapist who taps into her introvert strengths when working with patients.

What was your reaction when you first learned you were an introvert?
I was reading about it in a psychology class in high school and as I was reading I thought, “Huh, that sounds about right.” I had always known there was something different about me, but I couldn’t place it, so when I read about it I felt almost relieved; it was like I finally had answers to why I didn’t have a ton of friends or why I liked to be home by myself if I had a choice.

What first drew you to being a physical therapist?
As I started to get older I started to enjoy the sciences, especially human biology and anatomy. As I thought about things more I knew that I wanted to be in the medical field, but I did not want to be a doctor (way too much schooling) and I did not want to be a nurse (my aunt had many stories that made it seem rather unappealing to me). My dad actually suggested being a physical therapist; I looked into it and thought it sounded pretty interesting.

As I looked into the job description and observed different settings of physical therapy I really liked how much of an impact I could make on someone’s life. I liked the fact I could work one on one with someone, and that the job would be different every day. I also realized that each patient is like a puzzle waiting to be solved as well; I like to solve puzzles.

How much of an effect do you think being an introvert has had on your career?
I think it has made a profound effect on my career. On the whole, introverts tend to have better observation skills than most. This is extremely helpful when it comes to my patients. I need an eye for detail to see slight changes in how someone is moving or performing a certain task. It is also a plus being an introvert because, again as a whole, introverts seem to read people well and are good listeners. This helps me because I can see when someone is in pain and still trying to push through it, or just notice that something is “off” with a patient and give them the opportunity to share what is going on if they choose to; a little mind therapy as well as body therapy. Read More

Social Guilt

Guilt, the less intense but still powerful cousin of shame, has a certain knack of creeping up on us introverts. It can pop up at any time, if we let it. Don’t want to take that call right now? *guilt* Don’t want to go to that cocktail party? *guilt* And then of course there are the times we feel guilty with the help of well meaning family and friends who make comments like “you don’t go out enough.”

According to the Encyclopedia of Psychology, 2nd edition: “Guilty individuals are pained by their evaluation of failure. Guilt is often associated with a corrective action that the individual can take (but does not necessarily take) to repair the failure and prevent it from happening again.”

Summarizing the above, guilt is:
a) painful, and
b) sometimes followed by the wish to change

So in the case of declining a cocktail party invitation our guilt mental chatter may sound like “Oh man, I’m being so rude by not going. She’ll be offended. I need to stop being so selfish and just go to these things.” Guilt is an important emotion. It helps us to be empathetic and kind, and to make up with people we’ve slighted. But the mental chatter quoted above brings up two important questions. Is the slight imagined? And is the situation really something we need to feel guilty about?

It’s not worth the mental and physical exhaustion of feeling guilty for something that’s imagined or not a big deal, particularly if you’ve silenced a phone call or declined an invitation because you need some downtime.

Here are a few ways to combat your social guilt:

  • Ask yourself if it really is something you should feel guilty about (and therefore a behavior that needs to be reexamined). Perhaps your guilt is the product of an extrovert-biased society, or you’re projecting your own feelings onto someone else.
  • If you did genuinely make a mistake, is there anything you can learn from the situation?
  • Realize that the past is finished, and therefore beyond improvement. The future however can be changed.
  • Determine ahead of time what kind of social situations you should unequivocally accept an invitation to. For instance, you could make it a personal pledge to go to all birthdays and retirement parties for at least one hour and to try to be present and open during that time. This will help with the “will I/won’t I” mental anguish we sometimes feel. And once you’ve put in your hour you can leave if you want.
  • Realize that you are not responsible for the other person’s feelings and reactions (though of course this should not be used as an excuse to be mean or decline an invitation in a rude way). Sophia Dembling, in her book The Introvert’s Way, says the magic words to repeat to yourself are “Not my responsibility. Not my problem.”
  • If you’re very worried you hurt someone else’s feeling, ask them.
  • If you’ve confirmed that you’ve hurt the person’s feelings, you could apologize and see if you can come to a compromise about social situations going forward.
  • When declining an invitation from a good friend, make plans to meet one-on-one later on. If you regularly ignore their phone calls, trying scheduling Skype video calls instead.
  • Set a timer and give yourself 5 minutes to feel guilty. Once the 5 minutes are over, forget about it and go on with the rest of your day.

And finally, explain your introversion to the people around you. They may not be ready to listen the first time you say it, but please, keep talking about it!

Introvert Interview, with Emilee Ayers

Emilee self portraitWelcome to our Introvert Interviews series, where we talk to introverts from all walks of life about their experiences and their introversion.

Emilee Ayers is a portrait photographer. She also blogs about dancing, and has blended those two interests in this series of cool photos: So, what’s it like being an introverted photographer? Let’s find out …

What was your reaction when you first learned you were an introvert?
My literal first thought was, “Huh. That makes sense.” But it was definitely hard to fully transition into. I understood that I was an introvert, but no one else around me did. I was forced with the choice of pretending I wasn’t an introvert to avoid annoying questions–some of which I didn’t have answers to–or throwing caution to the wind and accepting it. I have, over time, chosen the latter and people are finally starting to adjust, which is really nice.

How much of an effect do you think being an introvert has had on your photography career?
It can make it rather difficult at times. If I have a new client, and I’m already over stimulated, I have to fight the dread associated with pushing through and doing the shoot anyway. If I don’t, the pictures can come out less than ideal, and that is bad for business. So I reason with myself, have a fit on the way over, power through the shoot and focus all my energy into it, then reward myself with a whole bunch of nothing to reset my brain.

What first drew you to photography?
I can remember going on trips with my friend as a kid and my mom would send me with disposable cameras. I would come back and show her all these pictures of amazing things I had seen and she would get mad at me saying, “But there’s no people in these pictures!” I saw something else, something I found beautiful that I wanted to remember, so I took a picture. Mom didn’t understand that. I’m also big into history. I love that pictures are moments immortalized, and–if taken correctly–can capture the entire essence of a person or place, event, etc. It makes temporary things last longer than a lifetime. And to me, that’s pretty special.

Emilee photo of pier


What kind of people skills are necessary for a photographer?
You have to be kind and open minded, considerate of what your client wants. If the client is happy, even if it’s not necessarily your best shot or what you had in mind, then all that doesn’t matter. What matters is giving them your best, and sometimes getting the shot they see takes a bit of losing yourself and trying to see it from their angle. But these can end up being some of the best learning and growing experiences. It’s a pretty amazing field to be in, and I think being an introvert can help, especially in understanding how some people don’t particularly want to be in the pictures. I’ve seen impatient, extrovert-dominant families with the one introvert they are raggin’ on, it makes a huge difference to be able to understand where they are coming from to be able to get them comfortable and get good shots. Read More

Guest Post: A Plea – Stop Telling Children They’re “Too Quiet”

Joanna L K Moore runs Twisted Sleeve, where she helps shy girls get the confidence they need to do whatever they dream of doing.

How many times have you witnessed or heard about a situation in which a small child was told off or pitied for being “shy” or “quiet”?

We live in a world that values extroversion, class participation, and group work, so it’s no wonder that teachers, child-minders, and well-meaning friends feel the need to call parents out on their children’s quiet natures.

But drawing attention to children’s personality traits like this, in a way that marks them as undesirable and problematic, is not helpful. In fact, it can be quite damaging.

Our words teach children what to value

I once read an article that called for adults to stop complimenting little girls on their appearances. Think about how often girls are told they’re “cute” or asked “don’t you look pretty today?”

It’s no wonder that by the time girls become teenagers, after a childhood of being judged on their appearances, so many of them are concerned about their weight, and struggling with low self-esteem.

The words we use to describe children when they’re growing up determine what they understand to be “good.” Children hear us evaluating beauty, so they learn that it’s important to be attractive, and they struggle with confidence if they don’t believe they are attractive.

Similarly, when adults tell children they need to “speak up” or “be more outgoing, like Bradley”, they learn that Bradley’s got it right and that being quiet is bad. If a naturally quiet child takes on the belief that being quiet is a bad thing, that child is going to end up with low self-esteem.

Extroverted children are not “better” than introverted children

The assumption made by those who comment on children’s quietness is that extroverts do better in life. But studies have shown that introverted children tend to get better marks at school than their extroverted classmates and that introverted bosses can be more effective leaders than extroverts, because of their ability to listen to their teams.

We need to stop nagging introverted children to be louder because extroverts are not better than introverts. This world needs both introverts and extroverts, so there’s no need to push any child into being anything that it is not.

Introversion is not shyness

Another reason for misguided comments about children’s quietness is the confusion about what introversion actually is. Introverts get their energy from being alone. They are naturally quiet and tend to enjoy their own company, and so are often quiet around others and less sociable than extroverts. Shy people, on the other hand, fear social interaction. They are scared of being judged or of embarrassing themselves. They are quiet around others and avoid social situations, not because they don’t like them, but because they are uncomfortable in them.

Adults who comment on children’s quietness often fail to see the difference between shyness and introversion. They wrongly assume that all quiet children want to be and should be more outgoing, and push them to change.

And while shy children might benefit from this encouragement, provided it is given in the correct way, introverted children have nothing to gain from being pressured to be louder, and everything to lose. If you teach an introverted child that it is better to be loud and outgoing, you teach that child to devalue itself.

So let’s stop telling children they’re “too quiet” or “too shy”. Let’s stop teaching them that it’s bad to be the way they are. Instead, let’s try to understand each child and each child’s needs, and encourage that child to develop its strengths and to like itself the way it is.



Headshot of Joanna Moore introvert guest writerBattling her British social awkwardness, Joanna L K Moore (Jo) runs Twisted Sleeve, where she helps shy girls get the confidence they need to do whatever they dream of doing. If you struggle with confidence, get her course, DIY Self-Esteem: How To Start Liking Yourself, which will teach you how to build self-esteem.

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