Rocking those introvert headphones ... Quietly


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?!

Introvert Book Club – October 2014

October’s introvert book will be The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World by Sophia Dembling
(Tweet this)

This clever and pithy book challenges introverts to take ownership of their personalities…with quiet strength. Sophia Dembling asserts that the introvert’s lifestyle is not “wrong” or lacking, as society or extroverts would have us believe. Through a combination of personal insights and psychology, The Introvert’s Way helps and encourages introverts to embrace their nature, to respect traits they may have been ashamed of and reframe them as assets.

You’re not shy; rather, you appreciate the joys of quiet. You’re not antisocial; instead, you enjoy recharging through time alone. You’re not unfriendly, but you do find more meaning in one-on-one connections than large gatherings.

By honoring what makes them unique, this astute and inspiring book challenges introverts to “own” their introversion, igniting a quiet revolution that will change how they see themselves and how they engage with the world.” (taken from Amazon)

Links to the book:
From Amazon (affiliate link)
From the public library

How to participate:
Acquire the book, start reading it, and join the discussion on Goodreads, or on Twitter using the hashtag #introbook.

Happy reading!

Introvert Interview, with James Dennard

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

James-Dennard-introvert-picJames Dennard is a teacher, spina bifida advocate, and co-host of La Literati, a literary radio show.

How did La Literati get started?
My friend and cohost for La Literati, Tosha, came up with the idea to do the podcast. She was already cohosting another podcast called Chit Chat Chicks, where she and another friend of ours, Jane, talk to people who mostly work in the entertainment industry. Tosha and I are both avid readers and writers, and she thought it would be fun to talk to some writer friends. It grew from that.

For the podcast, you recently facilitated a roundtable discussion on introversion. What led you to choose that topic?
I read Susan Cain’s book Quiet and listened to her TED talk shortly after it was published. I suggested that Tosha read the book, which she did and enjoyed it. The more we talked about the ideas surrounding the book, we realized that all of us in the round table group were introverts. So we thought it was a perfect opportunity to devote a podcast episode to the subject.

During that episode you mentioned that having spina bifida helped you develop good people skills. Can you elaborate on that?
I naturally keep to myself most of the time. But I can hold my own in conversations, though I mostly like to listen to the other person. When I was young, family, friends, doctors, teachers, frequently asked me how I was doing (physically, and otherwise). So, even though I would rather have been left alone most of the time, I learned to talk to people about how I was. That, combined with my natural introverted inclination to listen, I think contributed to my development of good people skills.

Do you have a pre-podcast routine?
My pre-podcast routine is really just two things: One is going over the notes for the show (topics we’re going to discuss, background of our guest, that sort of thing). Also, I stay off of social media on podcast days before the interview. Social media can be draining for me sometimes. Even though it isn’t face to face, it’s still social interaction with lots of conversations going back and forth. I need some quiet time before and after the show to even things out. Read More

Talking isn’t the only way to be social

Women around a table reading


If you look up the definition of “social” online you’ll see the following definitions:

  • relating to or involving activities in which people spend time talking to each other or doing enjoyable things with each other
  • liking to be with and talk to people : happy to be with people
  • of or relating to people or society in general

Although the dictionary definition allows some room for non-speaking activities, I mostly hear the word “social” in connection with an activity that requires a lot of talking. This colloquial use of the word social can really alienate quiet introverts.

In her famous TED talk, Susan Cain describes how her family’s primary group activity was reading: “You have the animal warmth of your family sitting right next to you, but you are also free to go roaming around the adventure land inside your own mind.” But, she prefaced this description by saying “[T]his might sound antisocial to you,” as an acknowledgment that we aren’t used to considering something that doesn’t involve speech or direct human interaction as being social.

I find this view particularly aggravating when combined with the phrase “humans are social animals.” More than once I’ve read the phrase “humans are social animals” used to shame an introvert into making more time for talking with friends. Non-human animals like dogs and dolphins are social animals too, but obviously their ability to communicate is much more limited than ours.

Instead of viewing a chat with a friend as the only way to be social, let’s start realizing that going to the library, helping a neighbor with their garden, or reading in the living room with your family are perfectly healthy ways to be social.

Introvert Interview, with Anna Bishop

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

Anna Bishop is a 15-year-old singer who will be releasing her first EP this Fall. She’s been singing professionally since she was 8 years old, has acted in both musical theater and dramatic productions, and does x-country running.

What’s it like being an introvert in high school? Anna Bishop an introverted student
Being an introvert in high school was slightly scary at first. All of the social expectations, academic standards, and athletic challenges can become easily overwhelming. However, once I realized that all of those worries were in my own head, I was able to relax into things more than before. Midyear, I found a group of girls that I felt really comfortable with, which made school a lot less stressful. But things are still hard, especially in the classroom. Most, if not all, of my classes have participation grades, which require a sufficient amount of speaking in class, and sharing thoughts. Personally, I find it extremely unfair to grade students on their level of confidence. In middle school, I was even more introverted than I am now, but in high school I actually have grades to think about. This continues to be an ongoing challenge for me.

Did you enjoy recording your first EP this past summer?
Honestly, I have mixed emotions! Although I have been recording for a couple of years now, this has been the longest amount of time spent recording at once. Being in the studio is fun, rewarding, and also very stressful. The turn out after a long session of recording definitely makes it all worth it, however, after several hours, I know that it is time to take a break. The intense focus that is required during recording is exhausting. Since I am an introvert, it is draining to have the spot light on me for extended amounts of time. I am glad that I did the EP this summer, but I am also glad to take a break from it, at least for a little while!

When did you first start singing?
I was in a children’s theater musical at age 8, after I went through a rough patch of girl drama at school. My mom enrolled me in several camps, thinking that it might take my mind off of school drama, and after that, I decided to audition for the Wizard of Oz, where I landed the pivotal role of a Munchkin… Anyway, I was hooked on musical theater, which started my phase of intense professional performing in musicals, operas, and dramatic theater.

Anna recording
In addition to singing, you also act in theatre productions, are involved in sports, and have written articles for @GirlZoneGZ, @MissheardMag, and Huffington Post @HuffPostTeen. What do you like to do when you’re relaxing in between all of your activities?
To be honest, sometimes it feels like I have no time to relax! But when I get the chance, I love to binge watch Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix, make music videos with friends, do makeovers with my sister, and spend quality cuddle sessions with my mini dachshund, Oskar. Although I don’t get tons of time to rest, I always make sure to have at least one hour a day of “chill-time”, or else I would probably go crazy.

Do you think your introversion has had an effect on your singing or acting?
If anything, I think it has made me a better performer. Being introverted has made me very sensitive to others, which definitely has translated through my acting. Singing and acting has also been a helpful outlet for me to express myself when I normally wouldn’t. For example, in 7th grade, I covered Taylor Swift’s “Mean,” bringing up the topic of bullying. There was some drama going on that year at school, and I hadn’t been able to vent about it, or confront anyone. So, instead, I channeled all of my emotions and angry thoughts into that song, and I got pretty fired up! Similarly, I sang a cover of “This Too Shall Pass,” by Tyler Stenson, and created a music video about bullying with all of my friends! It felt good to use my singing to express myself in ways that I normally couldn’t.

In your Huffington Post article, you wrote about how you find it rewarding to take risks and put yourself into situations that are often uncomfortable for a shy introvert. What was the most rewarding but scary thing that happened to you this past year?
Hands down, no doubt, x-country running! My parents forced me into it, and I cried… a lot… They thought that I would meet people, and that being active would lower my stress level all around; I was so mad! But after the first day, I had already met a really nice group of freshmen girls, and although it was very hard, I started to admit to myself that x-country was the right choice for me. Now, one of my best friends is one of the girls that I met that first day of practice. Even though I was scared, tired, and mad at my parents, I am beyond glad that I did x-country last year.

student cross country running
If you were able to travel back in time, is there any advice you would give to your younger introverted self?
My biggest piece of advice to give to my little, unhappy, awkward, shy, introverted 6th grade self, would be to RELAX! You are always going to be an introvert, and that’s okay. But if you feel unhappy, and you want to be happier, you have to be willing to step outside of your comfort bubble. It’s okay to feel uncomfortable, and it’s okay to feel scared. The most important thing is to push yourself into vulnerable situations, because most of the time, you will be happy that you did. On the other hand, it’s totally fine to stay in on Friday nights, or skip that birthday sleepover. You have to embrace your introverted self, and honor who you are, and be okay with it. I know that you sometimes you feel compelled to go that extra mile, but if slowing down feels better, then slow down! Be true to yourself, even if you think that you’re weird, or “different.” You got this, little, unhappy, awkward, shy, introverted 6th grade self! Now go do great things, because I know that you can.

Where can people find out more about you?
You can like my Facebook page:

You can download free music on ReverbNation:

You can follow me on Twitter:

And you can subscribe to my Youtube channel:

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