The Joys and Challenges of Being Introverts

As part of our intro, “the joys and challenges of being introverts” is what my co-host Jenny and I say at the beginning of each episode of the Wallflowers in Bloom podcast. Debuting on April 1, 2020, we encourage those who identify as introverts to live their best lives. Through our experiences and those of our guests, we believe it’s possible to thrive in a world dominated by extroverts.

Popularized by his 1921 book titled Psychological Types, Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung believed that introverts “focus their energy inwards, towards more solitary, thoughtful activities (Psychologist World, 2020).” This differs from extroverts, who get their energy through outward stimuli such as parties, festivals, and bars and nightclubs. Introverts focus inward, getting replenishment through solitary pursuits like reading, writing, gardening, or listening to podcasts (MSN, 2015). Embraced by Jenny, knitting is another introvert activity. It’s one too that connected her with Brendan of Perth, Australia’s Knitwits and Yarns, who was our episode nine guest.

Coming together every two weeks to share our experiences and acceptance of our introversion has been healing.

Through her dad, I’ve known Jenny for over 15 years. But it wasn’t until we came together at a party three years ago, to share our challenges with being introverts, that our bond strengthened. An introspective person from as early as I can remember, I’m no stranger to being labeled quiet, aloof, or just plain weird. Even so, when Jenny called me at the beginning of February 2020 with the idea, I was hesitant about declaring this on a public platform like a podcast.

I was also apprehensive about us putting ourselves in the line of fire of internet trolls, individuals “who hide in darkness and threaten people (Time, 2016).” With an appetite for negativity, trolls digitally inflict emotional harm on others through inflammatory and digressive messages in the comment sections of spaces like blogs, forums, podcasts, and vlogs. It wasn’t something I wanted to suit up to fight with.

However, Jenny sold me on it after we had a couple of talks. Her desire was for us, through sharing our experiences, to uplift others while building a community of support. And as she reminded me, “You and I have sat and have had these conversations. And we get really into them. And we’re passionate about it.” With me being in Sweden and England this past year, and Jenny in Los Angeles, our only challenge was to find out how to record in separate locations. Once we sorted these details, we set forth with creating a name, designing a logo, and recording our first episode.

One introvert attribute I’m now open about is needing time alone to recharge.

Coming together every two weeks to share our experiences and acceptance of our introversion has been healing. As I stated in Episode 4 — There’s Something About Erick, “If I’m honest, I didn’t become comfortable with using that word in connection to myself until you (Jenny) started talking about it.” My perception was that being an introvert was not something one bragged about being. As Rikke Koblauch stated in her article titled, “Introvert in a world designed for extroverts”, being an introvert “is sometimes seen as something you have to overcome (Medium, 2017).” This has been true for me.

It’s assumed that introverts are hermits, with no desire for social interactions. While it’s true we don’t relish large events where there’s a lot of noise and activity, most enjoy quality time with small groups of people. “They prefer to stay home with a book or a computer, or to stick to small gatherings with close friends, as opposed to attending large parties with many strangers (The Cut, 2020).”

One introvert attribute I’m now open about is needing time alone to recharge. Before connecting with Jenny on this topic, I never knew how to say this. My way of honoring this part of myself often involved making up elaborate excuses like, “I need to get up early so I can race over to my friend’s place to feed his six feral cats while he’s out of town.” Or “Oh, my God! I need to get going. I think I may have left the water running when I was ironing slacks for work.” Now I say, “I need to get going (with no explanation).” Or even better, “I’m running low on energy and should head home.” Keep it honest and simple.

Jenny and I recently uploaded Episode 17 — Sharing Our ‘Aha Moments’ Since Starting The Podcast. It was an opportunity for us to share what we’ve learned from our guests, and to acknowledge our growth so far. “We’ve had some pretty amazing people from all over the world,” Jenny said. “Hearing how they thrive and sometimes had the same feelings that we do.” For me, it’s a testament to the importance of being transparent, so that one can connect with others through shared traits and interests.

Introverts enjoy regenerating through solitary activities. But this doesn’t mean we don’t look for ways to live our best lives. Jenny and I have found that chosen careers include educator, writer, photographer, poet, and more. We’ve discovered too that introverts love international travel. We’re grateful for the lessons we’re learning and look forward to the treasures that await us.

“Introverts inspiring introverts” is our podcast’s tagline. It’s a phrase that developed organically between us when we realized that we just needed to come together through the time-honored tradition of telling stories. In doing so, we strive to accept, support, and inspire.

For more information on Wallflowers in Bloom, and to listen to the latest episodes, visit www.wallflowersinbloom.com. You can also find us on iTunes, Stitcher, Anchor.fm, Castbox, and Stitcher. And remember, “You can be a wallflower and still experience the life of the party.”

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Erick Taylor Woodby

Erick Taylor Woodby

Writer and host of “Our Black Gay Diaspora Podcast,” for black LGBTQ+ citizens to inspire and educate on who they are in their countries and professions.