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.
Lisa Zahn. A beautiful soul. I met her recently actually – she came into this community when I interviewed Cigdem Kobu.
Cigdem has a beautiful community for introverted women doing business, and Lisa is in her community.
Lisa quickly connected with my work and me with hers. She’s a gorgeous person, and I wanted to feature her here because she’s doing wonderful work in the world.
She recently contributed to The Introvert Writer’s Guild I started on Medium, and I found out even more about her that made me sigh – in a good way.
Like as in…..take a breath of relief that there are still women left in the world who will tell their stories uninhibited – like…..the REAL stuff.
I hope you enjoy getting to know Lisa today. I sure have. I’m happy to introduce you to her.
Lisa Zahn, Life Coach for Clarity & Joy
In her own words:
I’d love to point to… Stop Being Mean to Yourself: Four Commitments to Self-Kindness. In it, I encourage participants to find out the truth of their personalities and learn to work with it rather than against it.
It’s perfect for introverts who feel misunderstood, unappreciated and under-valued. The first step is to understand and appreciate ourselves. Sign up for my newsletter [via the link provided above] and you get this mini class delivered to your email inbox in six lessons.
I also love to coach introverts. One thing I am good at is seeing gifts where my clients have only seen flaws in themselves. We can do re-framing work to move forward into using your innate tendencies as gifts rather than being held back by those inner critical voices.
Thank you so much for this opportunity, Tamisha. I love the work you’re doing.
[Tamisha’s Note: Thank you, Lisa! Likewise, my dear. Likewise.]
Connect with Lisa:
When did you know for sure, without a doubt, you were an introvert and what does that really mean to YOU?
When I was 17 I went on a trip with my best friend and her mom. By chance we met up with a youth group from Wisconsin and ended up camping with them (long story) for a week in Glacier National Park. I loved that trip so much but by the end of the week, I was so incredibly crabby I was beside myself. I didn’t understand it at all because nothing like that had ever happened to me before! But I realized later that it was from being with people for an entire week, with no downtime or alone time. I was a kid who spent a lot of time alone, either in my room or outside, but I never knew that was called being an introvert. I was just content that way. I didn’t see time to myself as a need until I went without it for a week.
Usually, every introvert (and extrovert alike) has qualities of both introversion and extroversion. What is one of your favorite extroverted qualities about yourself?
I can be very social. I love people and love working with people. Most of my job experience has been in customer service and as long as the jobs were part-time or involved some downtime, I could handle waiting on customers happily and with a smile. I can really be fed by making a connection with a person, and I love that feeling. And then I go home and sit in a stupor for several hours because it does tire me out though!
Do you have a favorite celebrity who is also an introvert? Why is he/she your favorite?
I remember as a kid hearing that some of my favorite actors were very shy. I wondered how they could be shy like me and still get up and perform. Now it makes perfect sense to me, because when we introverts have a role to play we are able to step out of our shell and use the role to express ourselves.
I actually just Googled “Is Tom Hanks an introvert?” because he is my favorite celebrity, hands down. And yes, he is! It makes perfect sense. Not only is he an amazing actor, but he’s a genius director and producer and leader in Hollywood. He strikes me as someone with great integrity, and he’s in my favorite movie “You’ve Got Mail” with Meg Ryan. I would say most of my favorite celebrities are introverts, deep thinkers and people who take action after lots of inner work.
How has being introverted affected your relationships over time? (Friendships, romantic relationships, etc.)
I don’t know how, but my husband totally gets me. He’s known from day one of our marriage that I need a lot of time alone and he’s always been super respectful of that. When we had our first child we were as shocked with the weight and work of having a baby as any new parents are. I was completely determined to breastfeed on demand and attachment parent, but I also needed time to myself each day. So for an hour every day, George would come home from work and be with baby Eli while I ran down to our town’s little library and just immersed myself in a book or magazine [Tamisha’s Note: LOVE this!]. I tell you, that hour a day saved my sanity and it probably saved our marriage. Mutual respect for each other’s needs is absolutely why our marriage has worked for over 19 years.
As far as friendships, I always have a few close friends. It’s hard for me, with that people pleasing gene I got, to want to be friends with everybody. For my own sanity, I’ve had to make a distinction and realize I can be friendly with everyone but I really only keep close ties with a few people. And my friendships are also very mutual, built on trust and respect and give and take. I know who those people are, people who absolutely ‘get me’ like my husband does. With them I’m completely comfortable to be my wacky self. [Tamisha’s Note: I’m with you, Lisa! I might have a lot of acquaintances, but my truest friendships are the people I can completely 100% be myself with and let my hair down!]
What wisdom would you give to your younger self – either pre-introvert knowledge or before you really grew into what it meant for you?
I feel like I’m still growing into what being an introvert means for me. By no means could I give the impression that I’ve got this all figured out. What I do have now is awareness and appreciation for my introversion, and that helps with everything. So here’s what I would tell my younger self:
“There’s nothing wrong with you. Being an introvert is a gift. Go with it, work with it and not against it. You were made to be this way and there is a higher purpose and reason for it. Do not fight it but use your innate gifts and energy style to give back to the world. And forgive yourself more quickly when you mess up.”
I do mess up. I still get myself into introvert exhaustion at times, because I’ve overdone my people time and haven’t taken enough care of my own needs. But now that I’m aware of what’s going on, I don’t need to beat myself up for being so crabby or being too dumb to notice this was going to happen. I forgive myself, take the time I need, and move on much more quickly now. Thank goodness!
What is your favorite (or most-used) form of self-expression?
Writing, by far! I don’t know for sure, but I wonder if most of us introverts say that? I’ve been keeping journals, writing poetry and stories and doing my best thinking on paper since at least 4th grade.
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 known more about introversion and how we introverts gain our energy, before or in college, I would have picked a major based on it. Instead of striving to be an English teacher or a minister (both of which I studied for), I would most likely have gotten my degree in writing and/or counseling and become a writer or counselor from the beginning.
I never did become a teacher, and I was only a Lutheran Pastor as a student for a couple of years, but I know I would not have done well in those jobs. Not that introverts can’t be those things, but they were definitely not the best fit for me.
Not only am I introverted, I’m a people-pleaser, and those two things don’t go very well together. You just cannot meet everyone’s expectations when you need extensive time to yourself. I’m getting over being a people pleaser, but I’m pleased now to nourish the introvert in me and see the gifts of that aspect of myself.
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?
Forgive yourself. One of my favorite quotes recently is from Seneca: “It takes a lifetime to learn how to live.” We’re not necessarily going to get this introversion thing all figured out any time soon. But we can keep trying and keep moving forward when we mess up. We’ve got a whole lifetime to learn and appreciate and use our gifts and talents.
Also, work toward appreciate what it means to be an introvert. The first book that really helped me understand introversion, and see what a gift it is, was The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen Laney. She cites brain research and all this cool stuff to show us how we work and why it’s an advantage. It’s well worth the read.
Now Lisa and I would love to know…
Are you too, someone who tends to be a people-pleaser? Why do you think this is? Share with us in the comments.
And, as I always say in some kind o’ way…..thank you for spending time here – I’m appreciative,