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 littlle more of.
I have to say this. I had been building my business for about 3 years before I read Sophia Dembling’s book last year, The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World. I can tell you the timing couldn’t have been more perfect, and her book changed my life & my business forever. I always knew something was very different about me, and I could teach about it all day long, but I didn’t have a label for it – nothing that really identified or solidified all the quirks about me and how I lived. When I read Sophia’s book, I felt heard, understood, valued, and complete in a way. It was so liberating. From there, I worked with introverts for about a year, helping them find their deeper understanding of who they are and why it’s a really great thing to be an introvert. All in all, a whole whole lot of being comfortable in my own skin is owed to a woman you’re about to meet! I’m a fan.
Author & Introvert, Sophia Dembling
Make no mistake – this fellow Dallas woman is a writer – and a great one. I’ve already mentioned her authoring of The Introvert’s Way, but she has authored other books also. She wrote The Yankee Chick’s Survival Guide to Texas and The Making of Dr. Phil: The Straight-Talking True Story of Everyone’s Favorite Therapist. In addition, you can find her on the web blogging on Psychology Today in her special section, The Introvert’s Corner or connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.
Sophia on her own book, The Introvert’s Way:
Introverts are not failed extroverts. (Click to tweet that) We simply have our own way of interacting (or, sometimes, not) with the world. The Introvert’s Way helps introverts stake out space in an extrovert-centric society.
When did you know for sure, without a doubt, you were predominantly an introvert?
I learned about introversion and extroversion in a college psychology class and knew that I fell on the introvert side of the spectrum, but then, when read Dr. Laurie Helgoe’s book, Introvert Power in 2008, I realized how many aspects of my life are affected by introversion.
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 converse with just about anyone. I don’t always want to talk to people but when I do or when I have to, I’m a good conversationalist (an extrovert quality) and a good listener (and introvert quality). Actually, I credit my parents for making sure I have conversational skills; we ate dinner as a family every night and conversation was required.
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)?
I suppose everyone thinks of things they wish they’d known when they were teenagers, but I wish I’d realized that my quiet was as attractive to some people as my high school best friend’s outgoing, flirtatious nature. I spent a lot of time feeling invisible and insecure, but in later years—especially reconnecting with people from my past—I realized that I did put out my own interesting energy.
Do you have a favorite celebrity who is also an introvert? Why is he/she your favorite?
I can’t really think of one. I’m not much of a celebrity watcher.
How has being introverted affected your relationships over time? (Friendships, romantic relationships, etc.)
I think there was a time in my life when I let friends choose me and invitations come to me, so I found myself in extrovert-type activities a lot. Now I’m trying to transition into taking more responsibility for what I do and who I spend time with. I think introverts can be guilty of passivity when it comes to friendship (or worse, passive aggression).
Most of my friends have adjusted to my dislike of the telephone, though I do try to meet them halfway and actually call my far away friends sometimes, or at least initiate scheduling a call. I think I have damaged friendships by not reaching out more often and I am trying to remedy that. “Trying” is the operative word here…it’s not easy for me to push through my phone avoidance.
What wisdom would you give to your younger self – either pre-introvert knowledge or before you really grew into what it meant?
Some people like loud, flashy people, others like quiet, reserved people. You don’t have to try and keep up with extroverts to be noticed.
What is your favorite (or most-used) form of self-expression?
Writing, absolutely. It’s my career and my calling.
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 she feels too individuated or that her introversion isn’t an asset?
Don’t be passive about your introversion. Identify the people and activities that are most nourishing to you and put your greatest strengths into action and actively seek those out. If we try to compete on extrovert terms, we will always feel lesser. When we understand who we are, what we need and want, and what we do best, we can start succeeding on our own terms.
Also, I’ve noticed that the more control I take over my own life, the less odious things I used to dislike seem. Knowing I don’t have to answer the phone every time it rings lets me feel OK about answering when I do feel like it. Knowing that it’s OK to leave parties when I want to makes it a lot easier to go in the first place.
Do you have any thoughts to add to something Sophia said? Anything jump out at you? Do you have a question about anything she mentioned? We’re all ears! Jump in if you feel so inclined – any of your thoughts are welcomed below.
As always, thank you for reading & contributing,