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.
Make no mistake, there’s a lot to David Johnson! I mean, my goodness. The more I dug around to put together this interview, the more impressed I was with his work, his methods, and his understanding of us introverts. And he’s indeed, expressive.
I mean, just check out the UK’s first autonomous Masonite framed eco house (pictured left), he helped build. It’s gorgeous!
This doesn’t count how cool I think it is he lives in Portland (which I’ve secretly wanted to live in for the past several years and will probably end up there someday), his work with quiet leaders and introverts, and his apparent passion for life and his family. I just have SO appreciated meeting him.
As you know, I meet a whole lot of people I bring into this space on Twitter. David is no exception. I immediately wrote to him and asked if he would be a part of this interview, and he agreed without reservation – even offered me some other guys I could bring into the conversation, which I look forward to. A very giving spirit is something I respect.
So, let’s get to it – I know you’re going to love David’s interview w/ me. Let me introduce you to him first.
David Johnson is a mindfulness & confidence coach for quiet leaders & introverts.
A UK native now relocated to the Pacific North West of the US, David originally worked in the software world and spent some time traveling before moving to South Wales and a Tibetan Buddhist community. That was home for 6 years and then he moved next door to build the eco house I mentioned above.
Following a Masters in Transpersonal Psychology with a concentration in Ecopsychology, he married and move to America. Working initially in the non-profit sector of the environmental movement, he has since trained as a Coach, and in his work, he leverages his background in Buddhism and ecopsychology.
Connect with David here:
When did you know for sure, without a doubt, you were an introvert and what does that really mean to YOU?
The short answer to this question would have to be the reading of Susan Cain’s book “Quiet.” However, I knew long before that where my preferences lay for what worked for me in life – the like of quiet time, my selectively choosing of social events to attend, enjoying one on one conversations, spending time away from the maddening crowd and out in nature. Around good friends I never questioned that aspect of myself. At times by myself or when challenged by others, I could start to question if something was wrong with me, was I running away from something, should I be something other than I am. For almost 20 years I was closely involved with a Buddhist Retreat community. Where I lived was quiet though not free of being busy and being surrounded by people, at times a challenge but also a joy as I love meeting people.
What the discovering of my introverted nature (and that I am an HSP) has given me is a deeper validation of who I am and how I choose to lead my life. There is less of a need from me to make excuses for what I want to do. I answer this question at the end of a weekend where I have not been out of the house. I wanted the quiet and alone time. I feel in myself more ready now for the week ahead. That is an OK way to be and I’m fine with it. [Tamisha’s Note: Oh yes! To that I say, Amen.]
Usually, every introvert (and extrovert alike) has qualities of both introversion and extroversion. What is one of your favorite extroverted qualities about yourself?
An interesting question. This is what pops into my mind. My introverted nature will cause me to keep quiet if I find myself at a party. I’ll hang out with a couple of people usually and get involved in some long conversation. However, if there is music playing that I like and I am in the mood for it, I’ll get onto dance floor and just let myself go. I have even been told that I am good at dancing. Even watching good dancers who are in complete time with the music, I love to watch them. I have to feel right, be in the mood, and sometimes I will leave a party without showing much interest, but when I do I have a great time!
I also enjoy presenting or talking about a subject of which I am passionate. To share my enthusiasm with others in a way that can be of service to 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)?
For a couple of year I suffered from chronic fatigue and that came about from me pushing myself too much at work. Initially I noticed that my body was struggling but I could push through. In time though everything caught up with me. Now knowing when I need some down time, I can pace myself better. It doesn’t mean that I can’t get done what I did before, I do but I do it on a schedule that works for me.
How has being introverted affected your relationships over time? (Friendships, romantic relationships, etc.)
I have been fortunate with my friends in that I have built some close relationships with people, both extroverts and introverts, who have remained close, trusted and valued friends for many years.
My wife is an extrovert and me naming myself as an introvert came after we got together. It has caused some challenges in our relationship, but we have worked through those and continue to do so as challenges arise. We have had to find balance in the relationship and I would say that this is always a work in progress. Something always comes up that challenges us a bit further. But for sure there are times when I value her extroversion in my life, and I believe vice versa. [Tamisha’s Note: I love hearing this – some are able to make it work and some are not, so I like to hear stories of progress].
What is your favorite (or most-used) form of self-expression?
That would be writing. For the most part, that has just been writing for myself – I have kept a journal that has included poetry, since the late ‘80s when I was traveling. Of late it has also included blogging.
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?
Introversion is still a misunderstood personality quality. In our extroverted society it can be seen as a lack, not showing up, or not putting yourself out there. When people hear of my line of work, I still have questions presented to me as though introverts need to be fixed in some way. I think that the pressure that can come from stereotypes of the man having to seem tough, out going, forceful plays right against the perception of introverts. Consequently introversion can be something that becomes hidden in a man’s life, something that a man feels uncomfortable speaking about for fear of being misunderstood and their character somehow seeming less then it really is, as though it is lacking something – this can be true at work and home.
As introversion does become more spoken about, I find it interesting that those introverts who have a strong online presence speaking about introversion or who are writing books on the subject are for the most part women. I don’t know the reason, but wonder if it is because societal pressure makes men feel somehow less than if they put themselves forward on this subject? I can certainly feel that pressure (self-inflicted) upon myself when I speak to some people about what I do.
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! This question feels like a big responsibility…and scary. A couple of things come to mind. I don’t know if they are women specific ideas, but they are things that I believe are a help to individuals.
1.) Smile, present yourself in a happy, pleasing way….but there is something behind that. The smile is coming from a place of confidence in knowing and taking ownership for who you are and what you offer to the world. That offering does not have to be some life-changing program that you offer, or being the top or most skilled in your profession. No, you touch people in your life, people value your friendship and presence in their lives, and that alone is where your confidence can come from. From being who you are in the world – take ownership and honor that.
2.) As introverts we can feel a pressure and discomfort of larger groups. We embellish those stories that we have about who we are as an individual and how the group will see us, normally in unhelpful ways. Before entering the group, and at times when you have a quiet moment, try and humanize that group for yourself. Remember that everyone in that room, regardless of who they are and what they do in life, have the same basic wants and needs as yourself. They need to eat and sleep, get sick and lonely, have good days and bad days. With time this practice creates a more level playing field for you to interact with people in your daily life.
David and I would love to hear from you – what resonates the most with what he’s shared?
Please share it with us below, and thanks for being here – your voice, thoughts, & opinions DO matter.
(Image of the house used with permission from David)