The Expressive Introvert: Exclusive Behind-The-Scenes Interviews with Women Who Work, Live, & Love On Their Own Terms is an occasional interview feature here to help cultivate that bit of authentic self-expression within you we all want a little more of.
Honestly, WHO doesn’t know know who Beth Buelow is who is an introvert? Well, maybe some of you, but certainly not many!
We all know her, and we all love the work she’s doing for us – especially those of us who are introvert entrepreneurs. I first heard of her when I was looking at re-branding my business. There were tons of online coaches (overwhelming, much?), but I was specifically looking to see what was on the market for entrepreneurs.
Secret – I originally wanted to work with introvert entrepreneurs. However, Beth was already showing up in this space so incredibly strong, and while I’m of the opinion that we ALL bring something unique to the table, I reviewed this fact together with my own strengths to ask – what was it I could truly give introverted women no one else was that I could truly enjoy?
When I really evaluated all of my strengths coupled with my experience, I scratched the idea to enter the entrepreneurship space for now, and since then, connected with Beth’s work on Twitter (mostly). When I can catch one of her tweet conversations, I try to get involved if possible, and I’m just so glad for the work she does.
I’m deeply appreciative of Beth taking the time to sit down with us. I was honestly not sure I would hear back from her. Proof that it pays to be assertive. (wink, wink). You can do whatever you want to do and put your heart into.
So today, I’d love you to sip some tea or coffee, wine or green juice (or other yummy beverage), and sit with Beth and I as we chat below.
Beth Buelow, ACC, serves as a guide to introvert entrepreneurs who want to amplify their strengths and build sustainable, energetically aligned businesses.
She is a professional coach, author, podcaster, and speaker, is based in the Pacific Northwest and serves introverts worldwide.
Beth is the author of Insight: Reflections on the Gifts of Being an Introvert (2012) and the forthcoming The Introvert Entrepreneur (Perigee Books, 2015).
Connect with Beth:
When did you know for sure, without a doubt, you were an introvert and what does that really mean to YOU?
It was in graduate school, one night when I was procrastinating on a paper. Yahoo was the search engine of choice (this was 1995), and I loved exploring the psychology category links. I happened upon a simple online version of the Myers-Briggs assessment, and lo and behold, came out an introvert! I’m pretty sure I’d heard the word, but didn’t know the true definition. It was a breakthrough moment, learning that it wasn’t about social skills, but about energy and one’s orientation to the world.
That’s the definition I stick with today. I gain energy in solitude, drain energy during (most) social interaction. I experience the world from the inside, out. I enjoy people most in small groups and on my own terms (no surprise parties, please!). And I’m rather fond of an alternative definition I’ve come up with: Introvert – a person for whom the best part about going out is coming home. We can enjoy going out, and we love returning to the nest. [Tamisha’s Note: Oh YES].
Usually, every introvert (and extrovert alike) has qualities of both introversion and extroversion. What is one of your favorite extroverted qualities about yourself?
I’m willing and able to project my energy outward on behalf of my work. This mainly shows up through public speaking. While there are lots of teachers who are introverted, the act of teaching is relatively extroverted. You have to take what you know inside and communicate it to others. The information hasn’t fulfilled its purpose until its shared. Teaching others – whether it’s through my writing, speaking or podcasting – is an activity that gives me great satisfaction. [Tamisha’s Note: We share this one, Beth! I love teaching!]
Do you have a favorite celebrity who is also an introvert? Why is he/she your favorite?
I don’t have definitive proof that he’s an introvert, but I’ve always admired The Edge (Dave Evans) of U2. I’m a huge U2 fan (love ’em or hate ’em, right?) and have a theory that part of their success is that they’re a band of three introverts collaborating with a raging extrovert (Bono, of course). And with a nickname like The Edge, it seems like a good indicator that he likes to hang out on the edges, like many introverts. The Edge is in the spotlight, but isn’t phased by it. He seems to enjoy it, but doesn’t “eat it up.” It’s like his more self-contained presence is a perfect balance for Bono’s “look at me, love me!” energy. I never see The Edge trying to be anything but who he really is.
How has being introverted affected your relationships over time? (Friendships, romantic relationships, etc.)
I feel lucky to be married to a man who’s at about the same degree of introversion as I am. It’s a positive 95% of the time. It’s the 5% of the time that can result in some tension: one of us needs to attend a social event for professional purposes, and the other doesn’t want to go but does so out of love. Or it affects how long we stay at an event. Or we can enable each other NOT to go out when it would actually be a healthy thing. We’re aware of the possible tension and try to be proactive in our communication. We’re not always able to negotiate it without a minor squabble, but we do our best!
As for friendships, I have a very small circle of friends that I fully trust and love. I don’t have a need for lots of people in my life.
What wisdom would you give to your younger self – either pre-introvert knowledge or before you really grew into what it meant for you?
Be more compassionate with yourself. Remember that you don’t have to wait to be chosen – you can choose.
What is your favorite (or most-used) form of self-expression?
Writing is where I find my voice and discover how I really feel about something. I enjoy finding ways to take what I experience and turn it into a broader message that will (I hope) resonate with others.
I’m also totally loving photography right now. It’s a solitary pursuit but out in the world, and it gives me a lovely right brain massage!
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)?
If I had understood what it really meant to be an introvert when I was younger (high school-college), I might have been more compassionate with myself. I had an odd mixture of supreme confidence in my talents (music) yet extreme lack of confidence in my social self. Some of that was just general insecurity that takes hold when we’re in the intense finding-out-who-we-are stage. But some of it was connected to a faulty belief that I was shy, socially inept and not a “people person.” As long as I had a role and firm identity (which I now know is a powerful way for introverts to find their way socially), I was fine. When I was separate from that identity, I was lost. Now I understand better what was going on and would have been kinder to myself. [Tamisha’s Note: If you’re an Enneagram 4 – Individualist, you can fully identify with Beth’s account here of the identity crisis. We look for solid identities maybe more than the next person]
What last bit of advice would you give to an introverted woman listening/reading this right now who might be struggling in some area of her business or job, life, or relationship because of either her introversion or her need for validation in her individuality?
Release any guilt or hesitation that you have about asking for what you want and need. If you need alone time, say so, without apology. Practice with little things, such as telling your partner that you prefer to take a walk alone after dinner. Work up to larger requests, such as leaving a party early, or wanting time to think through what you want to say instead of being put on the spot. This serves two purposes: you grow more comfortable with making your needs a priority, and you get the solitude and processing time you crave to feel healthy and whole.
Now Beth and I would love to know…
In business or life, what is one key area you’re hesitating in when it comes to asking for what you want or need?
As always, thank you SO much for reading and being here…