xo, 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.
I met Kathryn via Twitter (I think), several months ago. We connected, and she recently asked me to be a featured guest in a special post she ran for influential introverts online, where she asked us the question, “What does being an introvert mean to you?” I was honored she included me with these other influencers online. I’ve been grateful to have met Kathryn – she has a sweet spirit and genuineness about her I adore. She’s the kind of person I’d love to go have coffee or tea with, for sure!
PS – I really loved this interview, and randomly, I for some reason connect to other people who use the word ‘nuts’ in their vocabulary. I don’t know why. Chalk it up to my weird sense of humor! I love saying things are “nuts”, so when I meet someone else who says that, I don’t know – it feels like kindred spirits!
Please help me welcome Kathryn to this space & enjoy this chit chat…
Kathryn Hall is founder of The Business of Introverts, an avid writer and mentor to individuals across the globe who want more freedom, solitude and creativity in their careers.
She’s big on helping people embrace their introversion in all its glory, while creating a life they love.
Sign up here to connect with Kathryn and receive her free audio series, How to create a soulful business the stress-free way.
Kathryn is also social. You can connect with her in various places on social media as well.
When did you know for sure, without a doubt, you were an introvert and what does that really mean to YOU?
I guess in some sense I’ve known for a really long time. As a teenager I found myself needing regular alone time and I knew that if I didn’t hide away for a bit in my room then I’d go a bit nuts!
It was a bit later on in my early 20s when I was able to develop a better understanding of the reasoning for that need for solitude. Before I started my own business I spent most of my career working in education, and it was through this that I began to learn about Jung’s types and his definition of introversion and extroversion. The work that Susan Cain has done over the last few years then further helped me understand exactly what was going on and in particular separated introversion from shyness (something I’d always bundled together as one and the same). [Tamisha’s Note: Me toooo! SO glad we’ve been able to make this separation!]
For me, introversion really is about needing regular alone time. Not only to re-charge my batteries, but to reflect and process the world around me. I have an ability to escape into a rich world of daydreams which is often where I feel most at peace. It’s also where I have my most creative moments of inspiration. I often think of reflection as my ‘superpower’, not a day goes by when I don’t have my head in the clouds – I’m a dab hand at drifting off!
Usually, every introvert (and extrovert alike) has qualities of both introversion and extroversion. What is one of your favorite extroverted qualities about yourself?
Ooh, that’s a tricky one. I’m certainly not one of those individuals who people confuse for an extrovert! I consider myself to be highly introverted as well having moments of shyness (although this has decreased massively as I’ve got older and become more confident with who I am).
I guess my most extroverted side comes out when I’m with people with whom I have a deep meaningful relationship with. For example, I am my most verbal with my partner. When I’m in the mood I can talk for hours and will happily dance around the kitchen singing at the top of my voice. That’s not something I would do in front of everyone though, only a special few get to see that side of me!
I would say also that I’ve really put myself out there on my blog. I write very openly and honestly about the experiences I’ve had both as an introvert and as someone who was deeply unhappy in her career. That openness is perhaps something that many people would associate with extroversion. [Tamisha’s Note: I am the same way, Kathryn – I tend to divulge way more in my writing than I actually would verbally – what I love about the writing process is the opportunity for editing!]
Do you have a favorite celebrity who is also an introvert? Why is he/she your favorite?
I’m not really into celebrity culture particularly, and wouldn’t say I have a favorite. I do however, find it very interesting when big Hollywood stars are introverted. I recently watched an interview with Robert de Niro and he had a very quiet and gentle demeanor. It’s very easy to assume that someone like that who is so well known for being in the spotlight must be an extrovert, but it’s not always the case.
How has being introverted affected your relationships over time? (Friendships, romantic relationships, etc.)
In terms of friendships, I have a small but close friendship group who I’ve been friends with since I was 18. I’ve never been one for having tons of friends, I’d far rather have a small group with whom I’m close to and this works perfectly for my introverted need for intimate dinner parties and small gatherings rather than huge parties.
I’m also very lucky to have an incredibly understanding partner. He’s more of an ambivert (in the middle) and we have very open and honest conversations about my introversion and the fact that I need regular alone time. It’s become a bit of a running joke that if he goes away for a few days with friends then I’ll be happy about it. Not because I don’t love him dearly, but because having some time at home on my own now and again is exactly what I need. I’m very thankful that he is secure enough in our relationship to understand that it’s not about him, it’s about me. He always gets a big squeeze when he comes home and ultimately I feel that having time apart strengthens our relationship.
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 would reassure my younger self that everything would be ok. I’d tell her that she’s not a weirdo for wanting to have time alone, that she would gain confidence in who she was and what she wanted, and that she would find direction and happiness. When I was a teenager I wished that I was different, I wished to be the girl that could talk to everyone and anyone. These days I embrace and accept every inch of myself.
What is your favorite (or most-used) form of self-expression?
Without a doubt it’s writing. I’ve kept a personal journal for as long as I can remember and I write regularly through my work. I use writing as a way to release emotions, process my daydreams, and to share my thoughts with the world. It’s the first thing I do during difficult times.
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 me, it’s all about my career. When I was 18 I started a degree to train to become an infant school teacher which would involve teaching classes of 5/6 year olds all day, every day (did I mention that I’m also highly sensitive!?). [Tamisha’s Note: Ahem! Well, well, well – we have more in common than I thought, Kathryn! I am also a formerly certified EC-4th grade teacher who never taught in public schools. And I’m also an HSP.]
Looking back at this career move I can now smile to myself at the naivety of it. I was young, didn’t know what I wanted, wasn’t sure of the options and in some way was probably pushing aside my introverted/shy self. This was perhaps an unconscious move to become more gregarious and confident. Not surprisingly, it didn’t work and half- way through the degree I had a total melt-down.
I then went on to make plenty more career moves that were equally naive. It’s only in the last few years when I’ve really been truly honest with myself and developed a greater understanding of exactly what I want and what works for me. Running an online business has been like a dream come true. Working from home, having full control with my time, and being able to lead my career in whichever direction I choose has been completely and utterly life-changing for me. I’m so much happier these days. [Tamisha’s Note: Kathryn, our stories are SO similar it’s scary!]
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?
I’d say always listen to your gut instincts and don’t force something if it doesn’t feel right. I’m a big believer in tuning into your intuition, following your heart and utilizing your natural-born strengths.
Listen for the signals that your body sends you. It’s great to push yourself out of your comfort zone now and again, but if you feel like you’re completely going against the grain of who you are, then perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate the situation and move towards a life that is more ‘you’.
Letting my intuition guide me, embracing my introversion, and creating a career that nurtures who I am has been the best move I have ever made. Not only has it brought me success in my career, but it’s also brought me happiness – which is what life’s all about right?! Find those moments when life feels easy, when you’re in ‘flow’, and then bring more of those moments into your life.
Kathryn and I would love to know…
What have your jobs or career path been like for you so far? What is one main challenge we can talk about today you have either had, or might be having currently? Leave us a comment below…
As always, I’m ever grateful for you being in this community.
Talk to you soon!