Being an Introvert, Living the Writing Life

I just got back from a lovely nature vacation. The rugged peaks and clear brooks made it serene. The group we were with made it real.

I'm not that into groups.

And then, as soon as I came home, I was off to the bustling Willamette Writers conference. It was great. But like I said, I'm not that into groups.

"But you're a coach," you say. "You're a group facilitator, an encourager, a presenter, an outgoing people person."

Yes. Yes, yes, yes and no/yes/sort of.

The thing about being an introvert is: you love people. You just don't want to spend your entire day with them.

If you're an introvert, you know exactly what I mean. If you are a gifted, creative person, there's a good chance you are an introvert. And as a mere quarter of the population, you are bombarded with expectations by extroverts (people comfortable spending most of their time with others).

Shy persons network too. But here are some things I have to guard against:
  • I get a bit smart-alecky after being overexposed to too many conversations.
  • I feel guilty for not asking more questions and getting to know the people I like.
  • I can't stand for others to think I don't like them, so I try harder. This is exhausting.
  • I experience a twinge of failure.
  • I panic. I avoid the exuberant person who threatens to talk my ear off.
Then, at first opportunity, I retreat. I don't return calls to friends or accept invitations until I have had plenty of quiet time to recover. I don't go to any big gatherings, meetings, or church. Pretty soon I get recharged and bounce back into a highly peopled scene, and have a great time. For a little while. Until I notice the whole cycle is about to start over.

Thank goodness, I've known a number of people who affirmed my introversion. Writers such as Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person...

and Jonathan Rauch, author of "Caring for Your Introvert," an article in the Atlantic, have offered insights.

As for me, I've found this key: learn to trust who you were born to be. Trust the design. This doesn't mean you will never be challenged. Sure, you'll be uncomfortable. You bet, you'll be "overpeopled" from time to time. But you will become stronger by appreciating the style of relating you were born with.

You don't need to feel guilty. Don't even bother thinking this is something wrong with you, that you need to fix. By contrast, you can plan your day, life, and work around your giftedness, your "ingoing-ness" as Nancy Okerlund puts it.

So now I'm going to make myself some tea and have the house all to myself for a little while, which is just the way I planned it.

Photo credits: and


  1. Christi,

    I just loved this and so, so can relate to it.

    Thank You!


    1. Val,
      You are an example of someone who balances your giving spirit and introversion extremely well! I'm so glad we share this trait.

  2. I loved it, too, Kristi. I had surgery in May and ended up spending almost 2 moths alone (except for Val, one other friend and of course Greg) and I found so much peace in being quiet. It was like getting to know myself again. I loved not having to make excuses for not wanting to be part of everything! As always, it's good to know one is not alone. Oops. Maybe I want to be alone!

    1. Judy,
      I'm so glad the surgery resulted in some well-needed peace and quiet for you. You do a fabulous job of connecting with people and staying creative.



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