An introvert space for the introvert era.


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.

I think introversion can help with getting still life shots, as well. To be secure within yourself and not need the stimulation of other people, you can fade into backgrounds and get lost on unintentional adventures that produce some of the most wonderful images.

Are you aware of your introversion while doing photography? 
Most of the time. Some people can make you feel warm and right at home. If they are more laid back, then it’s easier to fake-extrovert through the shoot. Those are my favorites. If the clients are more uptight, or needing specific direction it can be a little more taxing, but I’ve never found it to be too much. Just may take a little more time and care to warm up to each other.




You also blog about taking dance lessons. What’s the hardest part of dance?
Dance can be hard in different ways. There’s the difficulty of new techniques or new steps, there’s the difficulty of a new dance style, there’s the difficulty of increasing your stamina, then there’s the social difficulty of meeting the new people, changing classes, or if you have to change studios like I we did this summer when our studio had to shut down. But I would say the hardest thing of dance as a whole is overcoming yourself. You’ll only go as far as you believe you can go, so if you doubt yourself or freeze up or give up and walk out of the class, you’ll never get any better than that moment. You have to keep pushing yourself, even on the days that make you want to throw your pointe shoes out of the window and never go back. Because there will be days when everything goes right, and you know that life doesn’t get any better than how that class makes you feel, and you leave feeling like, “This is why I dance.” It’s so worth it.

If you were able to travel back in time, is there any advice you would give to your younger introverted self?
It’s okay to be different. Find out who you say you are, don’t worry about what people try to tell you to be. Your life is yours, not theirs. You’ll find people who like you just the way you are. Don’t change for the people here and now. If they don’t accept you like this, they won’t last long anyway. Save yourself the heartache. Your dog is cooler, anyway. :)

Where can people find out more about you? 
My photography website is M.Lee Photography.
And if you want to follow my dance journey, it’s 

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.

Why I don’t follow the Golden Rule

I’m sure you’ve heard of the Golden Rule – treat others how you want to be treated. It’s a good rule. If you wouldn’t want to be punched in the face, then don’t punch someone else in the face. If you wouldn’t want to be insulted, then don’t insult someone else. It’s pretty common sense, and serves as a basic reminder to be empathetic.

Except, if you try to apply the golden rule beyond the basic “don’t injure” and “don’t be cruel” situations it can turn out to be a very self-centered and unempathetic rule. We don’t all have the same values or the same desires. Just because you’d like to have a surprise birthday party thrown for you doesn’t mean someone else would (as this woman on Humans of New York found out). And then of course there are others that treat themselves badly and constantly chew themselves out.

Enter the Platinum Rule – treat others the way they want to be treated.

It sounds like a good rule to live by, doesn’t it? Or at least it sounded good to me, at first. It would be awesome if extroverts treated us the way we want to be treated. We could be invited to social gatherings, and if we decline there would be no guilt trips or weird looks. There would be an acknowledgment that we just have different needs, and there would be no infuriating “we need to break you out of your shell” comments.

But what about the flip side to that? What would happen if we treated extroverts the way they want to be treated? What if we went to every party we were invited to? What if we answered the phone every time they called? I’m making sweeping generalizations here of course about what an introvert or extrovert would want, but I think you get the idea.

I don’t want to go along with an extrovert’s every whim, nor do I actually think that extroverts should just stop talking to me and never call me on the telephone ever again.

Instead of living by the Platinum Rule or the Golden Rule, what if we lived by a new concept? I call it the Silver Guideline. It’s a combination of the Platinum Rule, Wheaton’s Law (“Don’t be a dick”) and self-compasion. Instead of pushing our desires on another person in the name of the Golden Rule, and instead of automatically ruling out our own desires and feelings in the name of the Platinum Rule, what if you “Treat others the way they want to be treated in a way that doesn’t make you miserable.” Ok, I admit it’s not quite as catchy, but I still think it’s a good guideline.

Don’t want to go to a cocktail party because you have too many other social commitments that week? Then don’t go, but don’t be rude when declining. Don’t want to go to a 50th birthday party because you have too many other social commitments that week? Go anyway, 50th birthdays are a big deal, but see if you can politely decline an invitation to one of the other parties.

Introvert Interview, with Tara Swiger

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

I first started following Tara Swiger on Twitter when she was focusing on selling her hand-made yarn. Since then she’s created an amazing online program for creative entrepreneurs called Starship (I love the name!).

What led you to start working with creative entrepreneurs?
I just started answering the questions I got about my own journey. I started and grew a handmade yarn business until I it replaced my day job salary. When I did, I was overwhelmed with questions from other creatives. I put everything I had learned (through research, trial and error, lots of reading!) into an online class, and it grew organically into more classes and eventually my book. When I realized that what creatives really needed was the accountability and support, I created the Starship. In other words, it’s all just grown organically from listening to people and trying to help them, in the way I’m most able to.

Are you aware of your introversion when you’re teaching classes?
Not when I’m in front of the class (when I’m teaching I’m doing my best to completely forget about myself, and focus on the students in front of me). But before the class and afterwards – absolutely.

crochetednotesDo you have a pre-class routine?
I put on lipgloss, give myself a little “you are here to help” pep talk in the mirror, and take a few deep breaths. (Long before the class I’ve already done most of the prep – writing out the entire class, developing the workbook, reviewing it so I only need to glance at my notes.)

What do you do after your classes to decompress?
Sleep :)
I teach a lot in the evenings, so I just come home and go to bed. If it’s earlier in the day (or when I’m teaching an all day class, like this), I go back to my room and lay on the bed and just stare at the ceiling. (This takes about an hour)

You’ve written Market Yourself, a book about marketing for creative business owners. What was your writing process like?
I outlined each chapter (usually with a mind map) and then wrote every day, for at least 2,000 words at I write with my first cup of coffee, just about as soon as I sit down at my computer. (I have a tiny one bedroom house, so I’m usually working at a coffee shop.) When I’m done, I make a few notes about where I want to go next and then close it and move on to that day’s work. I don’t look at that day’s writing until I put together all the chapter fragments (I used Scrivener for this). I’d sort through, edit, figure out what was missing, and add it to my notes on what to write the next day.

How do you approach your work-life balance?
Hmm. I don’t really think about this very often. I have work hours (8ish to 4ish, Monday through Friday) and in all the not-work-hours, I’m not working. About once a month I’m teaching an evening class, but I don’t worry too much about that. (I may take the next day off if it was particularly draining.) When I have a new class open, I’ll check my email throughout the evening (I only reply to emails from customers in non-working times), and I’m always popping into Instagram for a minute…but that doesn’t feel like work.

What books are you reading now?
I’m working on a Great Book Project (details), so I’m reading Virgil’s Aeneid + Saint Augustine’s Confessions. I just got Kim Werker’s Mighty Ugly and I love it, so I’m sipping that bit by bit. And Lev Grossman’s The Magician’s Land just came in for me at the library, so I’m diving into that this weekend!

Introvert roadIf you were able to travel back in time, is there any advice you would give to your younger introverted self?
You’re not weird for wanting to spend all your time reading in your room. There’s nothing wrong with you. Enjoy it and stop worrying about connecting with people – when you find the right people, you’ll feel like putting the book down.

Is there anything you would like to add?
I find that my work attracts introverts and those that are shy, or feel nervous talking about their work. The best bit of advice I have for them is to manage your energy – spend as much time alone in your studio as you need, and find the venues that work best for you. You do not have to build a business that looks like anyone else’s.

(And I recorded a podcast about surviving travel as an introvert)

How can people find out more about you?!

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