The Expressive Introvert: Male Digest is an occasional interview feature here to help cultivate that bit of authentic self-expression within you we all want a little more of, as experienced from a male point of view.
I just stumbled upon Andy Mort’s work recently – probably within the last 6 months or so. I kept seeing his G + (Google Plus) posts, and I thought he had good things to share. I then started following him on Twitter and following his words & work a little more closely.
I had spent the latter half of last year connecting with many new introverts online and following their work. It was my connection w/ Andy and one other male introvert online who spurred a gentle brilliant idea that came to me one day out of those conversations and observations. I was asking myself, “why can’t I expand the conversation we’re already having on my blog with female introverts about expression with the male gender? After all, they have just as many valuable things to say, and I’m a fan of a holistic viewpoint in every right.” I also intuitively knew that many of us are in relationships with men – whether friends, married, co-workers, collaborators, business partners, etc. Why would we not want to hear their perspective?
With that, I made the decision to ask a few of my male introvert acquaintances online if they would even be interested in participating in a series like this. They all said yes! So….with that – this male digest version of our ever-growing Expressive Introvert interview series was born. I have modified some of the questions to really pull in their perspective, and I think you’ll like it.
Of course, I won’t bring you anything that is vulgar, ugly, or out of character for this space – nothing changes with the values held here in our community.
Furthermore, you will love Andy’s work and perspective. I like his down-to-earthness and musician-type demeanor. (My entire family are musicians & singers of some kind – my brother can play the drums like no one I’ve ever met). So I dig his style.
Enjoy Andy’s thoughts – I certainly did!
Andy Mort is a UK based musician and writer.
He is the founder of SheepDressedLikeWolves.com, which is a Blog and Podcast aimed at encouraging HSPs and introverts to embrace their creativity and push against the expectations of an often overwhelming world.
Download his FREE eBook “The Gentle Rebel Manifesto” here.
When did you know for sure, without a doubt, you were an introvert and what does that really mean to YOU?
The first time I really thought about it was after reading Carl King’s article, 10 Myths About Introversion back in 2012. I hadn’t even known what it meant until then. And as I went through the post I experienced a multitude of ‘aha!’ moments. Everything seemed to click and I began reframing a lot of the experiences I had growing up through this lens, especially once I went on to read The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen Laney and then more recently Susan Cain’s, Quiet. [Tamisha’s Note: My turning point was actually reading The Introvert’s Way by Sophia Dembling.]
Usually, every introvert (and extrovert alike) has qualities of both introversion and extroversion. What is one of your favorite extroverted qualities about yourself?
I really like that question! You’re totally right. I guess I have always been able to turn on a certain amount of extroversion when I have to get up on stage to perform. Singing in front of an audience is something I often have an inner struggle with, but my inner-extrovert really enjoys the buzz of a gig that is going well and feels like people are connecting. I often also really enjoy spending time with people. It drains me and usually takes some serious recovery time, but I grew up in quite a busy household. My dad was a vicar and we would have strangers coming round almost every Sunday for lunch as well as other nights of the week.
So I guess I learned certain ways of ‘extroverting’ when it came to interacting with them and, although I’ve probably lost this a little bit over the years, I don’t find it quite as excruciating to engage in small talk as other introverts. [Tamisha’s Note: Me either, really. I’ve learned that it can lead to great conversations, so I embrace it – it usually does if I intuitively engage.]
I see it as an opportunity to put people at ease (I’m also a highly sensitive person and find awkward situations bring a lot of stimulation to my head, so I find ways to eliminate them).
Can you share a situation or time where you would have done something differently, based on your current knowledge of introversion and yourself (in a job, your life in general, or a relationship)?
Yeah absolutely. For a year after university, I lived with two of my best friends and worked in a big, busy bookshop. After work we would go out most nights and spend a lot of time hanging out with each other. Looking back, there were lots of times when I simply burned myself out because I really didn’t take much time for myself.
I actually ended up cutting my job down from full time to part time because I felt I had to. I just didn’t know why I felt like I had to, I just couldn’t really cope with spending all my time surrounded by people at work, and then going out with my friends in the evenings and at weekends.
I realise now that I was totally overwhelming myself with stimulation and people. As I said, I love spending time with people and absolutely love those friends (both of whom are extroverts), so not knowing about my introversion meant that I didn’t know what I needed in order to keep a more balanced sense of my self.
How has being introverted affected your relationships over time? (Friendships, romantic relationships, etc.)
I’ve actually always been really bad at maintaining friendships. It’s one of my biggest ‘self-frustrations’ and something I’m working on. Keeping long-distant friendships going has always been a struggle for me, especially if I’m building or nurturing ones in my present situation. It takes a lot of energy for me, and before I knew about my introversion I felt like there was something completely wrong with me.
Now that I have a better understanding I am able to find ways to counter it. I think the main thing for me has always been my dislike for the phone. I have to summon what feels like superhuman energy to get myself into a place where I can have a social phone call. So I guess that has caused some problems over the years.
I’m very happily married now though, ironically after spending our first year together over 200 miles apart. That was definitely a sign that my wife was a very special person to me!
What is your favorite (or most-used) form of self-expression?
Music, without a doubt. It is my most pure expression. I like to call it my first language because it is how I express what I don’t know I’m thinking; the stuff bubbling beneath the surface. It’s how I understand myself and my thoughts – like Flannery O’Connor says, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say”. I have a similar experience with music. I also love to write, but my books and blog come from a more tangible place – I want to support, encourage, and help people with what I write about. I guess you could say that I write music for myself and hope that others connect, whereas I write my blog for others.
As a man, what are some of the stereotypes you see and feel in our society you wish didn’t exist, especially with regard to your introverted qualities?
I guess a lot of our notions of what it means to ‘be a man’, and the idea that we should run away from the way we truly feel about stuff. I hate the phrase ‘man up’ because it paints a really inaccurate expectation of how we ‘should be’ as males. And if we feel different to how we think we should then we automatically adopt an inferiority complex which can play out in all sorts of negative and destructive ways.
There are also assumptions we make within male-female relationships about the different gender roles that I think are not helpful. In terms of introversion, there is still an assumption that quietness equates to shyness and that choosing to be alone at times comes from a fear of the activity to which you have said no, rather than a genuine desire to just hang out and enjoy some solitude. When people don’t get this, and they feel a duty to push you into doing activities, it can be really frustrating.
What do you wish introverted women knew about how they present themselves in public or in groups? Specifically, please take this moment to let us know how we can somehow more confidently show up in our lives and work without trying too hard. What are some things we’re missing or not seeing we could be utilizing, from your perspective?
Wow, that’s a scary question! Haha.
I know a few introverted females who are perfectly confident within their introversion and they have a good grasp of how they choose to present themselves. And also have friends who lack that confidence to truly be themselves outside of their home.
In answer to your question, I think you’re doing great! I’d say that a smile can put everyone at ease and break down any fears that other people have of introverts who might express their introversion in a standoffish way that may come across as disinterested. This is something, I too have found.
Engagement and confidence isn’t just expressed through speaking. It can be conveyed through body language, eye contact (awkward!), and facial expressions. Embrace an attitude of pronoia rather than paranoia – if you see the ‘universe’ conspiring in your favor rather than against you, it can change the way you interact with and perceive it.
One of the most important things I’ve learned is that, generally speaking, we will see and hear what we are looking for (to justify our assumptions and pre-conceptions). I hope that offers something of an answer. That was a hard one! :)
Andy – I truly enjoyed this. Thank you for your answers & perspective. So real. So genuine. So transparent. Thank you.
Andy and I would love to hear from you – I found it interesting how we both stumbled upon “coming into” introversion by reading either books or articles – how did YOU discover you were an introvert? Please share w/ us your experience and what it looked like below.
As always, I’m grateful you’ve taken time with us today. Have a great week!