(47) Introvert or Extrovert? with Joanne

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No matter if you’re an introvert, extrovert, or don’t know what the hell you are, this episode is for you. My guest, Joanne, discusses the telltale traits for both, and then offers practical tips on how to better support the introverts you love – whether that be your kids, your spouse, or even yourself. With Joanne’s help, I learned a lot about myself and my kids. So join us as we talk personalities, laugh a lot, and overshare.

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Brandy:            Hello, Adult Conversation Podcast listeners. No matter if you’re an introvert, extrovert, or don’t know what the hell you are, this episode is for you. Today’s guest, Joanne, discusses the telltale traits for both, and then offers practical tips on how to better support the introverts you love whether that be your kids, your spouse, or even yourself. There are a lot of layers here, including being a highly sensitive person which we also get into. With Joanne’s help, I learned a lot about myself and my kids. I started the episode thinking I was one thing, and then by the end of it, I was something else. So, join us as we talk personalities, and stay until the very end where we both agree on something hilarious and TMI to the infinity power that I almost considered cutting.

Brandy:            I am so excited to announce that my audiobook (which I narrated in a tiny studio while sucking on grapes between chapters to wet my whistle) is finally available! If you’ve wanted to read my book, Adult Conversation: A Novel, but haven’t had the time (gee, I wonder why you wouldn’t have had the time) now’s your chance to pop on some headphones during your kid’s Zoom call or while folding laundry or washing dishes or any other domestic nonsense. Or maybe, you could even go on a walk alone and listen. Self-care. Remember how much we love self-care? You can find it wherever audiobooks are sold. On to the show —

Brandy:            Joining us on the podcast today is someone who has a varied skill set that’s probably as weird as mine. She was a family physician before having kids, and now she has a clothing line and also a podcast that interviews guests about their most embarrassing moments. Welcome to the podcast, Joanne.

Joanne:            Hi, Brandy. Thank you so much for having me.

Brandy:            Of course. We met because I was on your podcast divulging way too much information about how I had zero filter when I was in my middle school sex ed class. {laughter}

Joanne:            {laughter} One of my favorites.

Brandy:            And after that, I saw that you wrote an article about how you are an introvert raised by an extrovert, and you’re raising one of each, and also married to an extrovert. You’ve thought a lot about how each interacts with our super extroverted culture. I saw this, and I was like, “I have to know more,” because as you’ll learn, I don’t know what I am. I am like — I’m lost Joanne.

Joanne:            Really?

Brandy:            Yeah.

Joanne:            Interesting.

Brandy:            Because I feel like I’m a mix of both. I feel like in different times, especially like different times of the month, there are a couple of days where I’m an introvert. {laughter} There are other times where I’m an extrovert. I need to know more about this. Also, with my kids, I feel like they’re similar to me that I feel like they could go either way. I’m looking to you for some help in that department. I also know that our listeners will find what you have to say super helpful because as I read your article that was titled “10 Ways to Improve the Life of the Introvert You Love” — I just know that that will resonate with so many people. I want to get into a dialogue about this. It’s also fun because on the podcast I sometimes do a lot of heavy — not heavy, maybe, but really deep conversations — and not saying that that can’t happen today because I’ll probably be bawling my eyes out in 10 minutes and uncovering some trauma that has made it so that I haven’t known what I am. {laughter} But anyway, it’s nice to just have like a “let’s talk about introverts and extroverts for a minute” conversation. So, thank you.

Joanne:            Yeah, you’re very welcome. And just like easy tips. “Hey, have you ever considered this? This might really help.” Something super easy to tweak that can increase your quality of life.

Brandy:            Yeah, so I want to know your tips for how to figure out what people are, how to live with people that are different than you are, and then also these tips. Before we get to that, what do the listeners need to know about you?

Joanne:            In keeping with the topic of today’s podcast, I am an introvert, an extreme introvert, who often gets mistaken for an extrovert because I love nothing more than a deep chat. It’s definitely complicated. I recently also have learned about the attribute of being a highly sensitive person which is a completely different set of attributes. You can either be a highly sensitive introvert or a highly sensitive extrovert.

Brandy:            {gasps}

Joanne:            Yeah, that adds another layer of detail and complications.

Brandy:            Okay, I’m writing that down because we have to talk about that. So, you can be a highly sensitive introvert or extrovert. Okay.

Joanne:            Yes.

Brandy:            I feel like I’m finding myself here today {laughter} because “highly sensitive” just sounds right in terms of sounds and smells.

Joanne:            Yes.

Brandy:            I sometimes feel like life is just too life. It’s too loud. It’s too bright. {laughter}

Joanne:            You’re getting overstimulated, but it doesn’t mean you need to be alone. You just need things to be a little more calm.

Brandy:            Yes. Okay, perfect. I want to know also — you are a self-proclaimed introvert. Have you always been like this? Were you like that as a child?

Joanne:            I was. In fact, as a child, it was very obvious what I was. I was painfully shy. If the phone rang or the doorbell rang, I was hiding behind my mom’s skirt, but I’ve always been very fascinated with communication. I’ve always loved sitting and listening to conversations. I loved it when my mom would be sitting and talking about something deep with a girlfriend, but I did not want to be involved in the conversation. It wasn’t in a nosy way. I felt like I was just sort of soaking it in, and I was part of it just by being there. But I didn’t want to interact necessarily.

Brandy:            So, you were a lurker from the start. {laughter}

Joanne:            {laughter} Yeah, exactly. You nailed it.

Brandy:            That’s what my mom does on Facebook. Every time I see her, she’s like, “I saw that you posted ‘la, la, la, la,’”, but she just never puts herself out there. Anyway, this reminds me of my mom. {laughter}

Joanne:            {laughter}

Brandy:            At what age did you know this was introvertedness? Or did you always grow up thinking you were just shy?

Joanne:            I think I grew up thinking I was less than and that something was wrong with me. In fact, even in high school, I remember I had — I always have had extroverted best friends. They’ve always sought me out and sort of recruited me into the friendship. Not that I haven’t had a say or any power, but it’s just that I’m not somebody who seeks a relationship out. But I love a relationship. I remember in high school talking to my best friend. She was one year older, so she had her driver’s license. I said, “Maybe, when I can hop in my car and go visit people, I’ll be more social.” Then I thought, “Wait, I sort of sound like maybe I think something is wrong with me because I’m not like her.” But at the same time, I kind of knew, “No, I’m okay. I’m just different.” I didn’t have the vocabulary for that right until much later.

Brandy:            Right.

Joanne:            My mom’s always been interested in personality types. I want to say when I was a teenager, she learned a construct that was — it’s not very popular anymore, but it’s quadrants. They’re sanguine, choleric, melancholy and phlegmatic. It’s sort of based on what your “goals” in life are or your personality goals — either peace, power, fun or perfection. Usually, people have two out of the four. Depending on what two you are, then you’re more likely to be introverted or extroverted. I guess that’s kind of when the concept first came about. I think when I was in high school, I took a sociology class which was amazing. It really opened my eyes to a lot of things, but I had a really forward thinking teacher who gave us a test to determine whether we were introverts or extroverts as part of a Myers Briggs larger personality test. The first letter of the Myers Briggs is introvert or extrovert.

Brandy:            Right.

Joanne:            I tested strongly introvert.  I remember the girl sitting in front of me in school turned around and said, “Aww, I don’t think you’re an introvert.” Like, “I don’t think you have leprosy.” {laughter}

Brandy:            Right. {laughter}

Joanne:            I was like, “Alright. I don’t need sympathy for it. It just is what it is.”

Brandy:            So, the first time you learned you’re an introvert, somebody immediately shamed you for it is what you’re saying. {laughter}

Joanne:            Yes, exactly. {laughter}

Brandy:            That’s awful. But I would imagine having that, did you carry that with you? Like, “Oh, this explains who I am.” Or did you learn it, and it wasn’t really relevant? Or was that a big deal? Was that a big moment when you learned that?

Joanne:            I think it was pretty earth shattering for me because I tend to be analytical anyway. I love data. The more data you can give me about something, the better decision I can make. It helped me especially understand my sister because my sister is an extreme extrovert which means that her processing occurs externally. She does not care if she makes a scene. I love her to death. She’s literally one of my favorite people on the face of this earth, but when we were young, we kind of thought we existed only to annoy each other. {laughter} It helped me to understand that it’s not like, “She’s not like me, so she’s bad. It’s not that I’m bad because I’m not like her. It’s just that we’re different, and we come by it naturally. It’s in the fabric of who we are. There are certain strengths and weaknesses associated with each type.” The understanding that came with it, I think, was a game changer for me.

Brandy:            Yeah, that sounds huge. For the people who don’t know and so I can try to figure out where I fit better, will you tell us what the traits of each of those are.

Joanne:            Yes. Introverts are people who prefer calm, quiet surroundings, and they tend to feel depleted after social interaction. This doesn’t mean that they don’t like social interaction, but it usually means that if they’ve had a long period of social interaction, then it’s time for them to retreat for a while and regroup. They recharge their energy by spending either time alone or time focused inwardly. We’ll talk more about the difference between needing to be alone and just needing to be focused inwardly. Extroverts prefer exciting, lively surroundings, and they tend to seek out social interaction as a way to recharge their energy. Not all introverts are shy wallflowers. They really may enjoy socializing, like I said, and not all extroverts are loud, life of the party types, but they will mostly choose being with a group over being alone. Then, you throw in the dimension of whether or not someone is highly sensitive. That doesn’t mean if you’re highly sensitive that you get your feelings hurt often.

Brandy:            Right.

Joanne:            I think you are definitely picking up on that it’s more of a neurological sensitivity. I think that kind of understanding comes from you and I both having a medical background. We kind of understand sensitivity in more of a physical way instead of only an emotional way, but a lot of highly sensitive people hate the term. I’m like, “I’m not going to spend energy hating the term.” To me, it’s plenty explanatory. If you get easily overstimulated when there are lots of loud noises, strong tastes, tons of people around, chaos, lots of activity, speed — you don’t tend to be the type of person who seeks out adrenaline, then you may be a highly sensitive person. You can be an introvert or an extrovert and be highly sensitive. That just adds another layer. I’m new at learning about the whole highly sensitive construct. I actually did an interview recently on Unapologetically Sensitive with Patricia Young, and she counsels people based on this trait. There is a quiz — I don’t tend to be a proponent of quick online quizzes to find out too much about yourself because we are complicated beings. We can’t easily be put into boxes.

Brandy:            Right.

Joanne:            This one in particular, it has been created by the sociologist, I think, or psychologist who identified this as a trait. It is a very good quiz, and it gives you kind of a score on a range. I’ll send you that link, Brandy, because I can’t think of what it is right now. That way you can put it in the show notes, so if somebody wants to test themselves to see if they’re highly sensitive or not, they can do that. The best test I know to find out whether or not you’re introvert or extrovert is to take a Myers Briggs personality survey. I will also send you a link to one that is very good, that isn’t too short or too long, because those can tend to take an hour. It’s just exhausting, but if you do one that’s too short and abbreviated, it’s less likely to be accurate. Because I’m a personality type junkie, I do actually know some of the really good ones.

Brandy:            I think a test that you just administered to me was saying words out loud and then seeing if I was cringing.

Joanne:            {laughter}

Brandy:            When you were saying, “Calm, quiet, –” I’m just like, “Yes! That sounds great.” And then you’re like, “Chaos, lively, exciting,” and I was curling in a ball like, “No! None of that.”

Joanne:            {laughter}

Brandy:            Okay, so I think that I’m an introvert. When you’re talking about the highly sensitive, I’m just imagining my family, especially right now, when we’re with them all the time and all the sounds and the speed. We just went on a little mini social distancing road trip to Sequoia, and I swear, I’m like, “When did I become the wife that looks at the speedometer the whole ride?” I was like, “You’re a little bit over 65 right now. I think we’re at 72. I would feel more comfortable if you were…”

Joanne:            {laughter}

Brandy:            What an annoying person.

Joanne:            {laughter} What made me the road cop?

Brandy:            Yeah. {laughter} But here I am.

Joanne:            {laughter}

Brandy:            I’m thinking, based on your and our very thorough work together just now in the last two minutes, I feel like I’m leaning towards introvert. I know I’m highly sensitive. I already know that, but the thing that always gets me is that sometimes I totally love liveliness. It just depends. Sometimes being in that situation feels like it fuels me and fills me up and especially with friends and people I love. I also am not somebody who dreads social interaction. I feel like I can be in a room with people I don’t know, and I can have fun. I’m not nervous about it and feel like, “I don’t want to talk to anybody.” I don’t feel that level of introvertedness or shyness.

Joanne:            Yes.

Brandy:            My friend, Kathie, who’s been on the podcast a couple times, she always talks —

Joanne:            Who I feel like is my friend at this point because I love listening to Kathie. {laughter}

Brandy:            Yes! Okay, great! She’s amazing. She always talks about how she’s a “learned extrovert” like it was something she had to learn how to do. I guess it would make sense that if you’re an introvert, it doesn’t mean you’re always interested in that. Maybe, I just tend to be more introverted. When I see my friends who are true, true introverts talk about it, it’s like they don’t want to make eye contact, and they don’t want to have conversation with anyone. I don’t feel like that. What does that mean?

Joanne:            I definitely feel like it’s a spectrum, and we all land somewhere different on the spectrum. There are people who land in the middle. I think it’s actually sort of a hot term right now called ambivert.

Brandy:            Oh.

Joanne:            I don’t really know much about that, but there are people who kind of fall in the halfway between point where they can reenergize by being alone, and sometimes they can reenergize by being with other people. I have a couple questions for you, and this might tease it out. I don’t know. Okay, how good are you at working a room?

Brandy:            Well, that’s a tricky question because I hate that. One of my character skills and flaws is that I hate anything that’s disingenuous. Working a room makes me want to vomit because it’s like, “That’s not real because you’re looking to gain something.” That being said, if I have a genuine like, “Oh, I really wanted to talk to that person about something,” — I was at a book signing, and there was a woman who I wanted to talk to about podcast stuff. I didn’t know her, and I was gonna go over to talk to her. I’m totally fine and, I think, decent at doing that. Although, the one I’m thinking of, I was not decent at it. I don’t know. It depends on the day.

Joanne:             {laughter} Were you fangirling? {laughter}

Brandy:            I was like, “Uh, hi. I like your podcast.” Just ridiculousness.

Joanne:            {laughter}

Brandy:            It’s weird. I’m comfortable in these, “Let’s just have small talk and try to get to know each other,” but I sort of hate it at the same time. Sorry.

Joanne:            No, it’s great. I feel like you definitely have traits of either. I can work a room, but it kills me off. But you would never know it. I have had to run meetings before where I’m interacting before, interacting after, and then running the program and speaking at the podium. It practically murders me, but I’m very good at it. People are like, “Oh, that was great. Thanks for doing that.” I’m like, “I’m gonna die.” They’re like, “What?” It’s like, “Am I just a really good liar?”

Brandy:            Right.

Joanne:            “Am I just the best actress on the planet?” {laughter} No.

Brandy:            {laughter}

Joanne:            I think that has something to do with the fact that I’m an introvert who was raised by an extrovert. My mom is a super, super naturally social person. I just think that I observed her, and I am a good imitator. That is something else I think is a trait of being highly sensitive is that you are noticing everything on kind of a deeper level, and then you can turn around and imitate those characteristics. Not in a false and manipulative way. It’s so important for me to make the room feel comfortable that that is definitely my top goal, and my personal discomfort is something that takes a backseat to that. Then I’m like, “Okay, now I have to go to a sensory deprivation chamber. Thank God it takes me half an hour to drive home.” {laughter}

Brandy:            {laughter} Right. You make everyone else feel comfortable in the room, and then you fall down and have a seizure at the end of it.

Joanne:            Yes. {laughter}

Brandy:            {laughter} It’s like, “That was lovely.”

Joanne:            “And I’m spent.”

Brandy:            {laughter} “Every time, I have to be wheeled out by the ambulance.”

Joanne:            {laughter} Luckily, I don’t crumble into an ugly pile until after it’s completely over because, God forbid, I would make anyone feel bad for using my energy. So, you’re good at working room, but you like it to be genuine.

Brandy:            Yes.

Joanne:            You’re okay with small talk if it’s just the beginning of maybe something a little bit more meaningful just to kind of test the waters and see what you have in common with somebody?

Brandy:            Yeah, I typically hate small talk, but if I’m meeting somebody for the first time, I will do it. If I have to, I will do it to get to know somebody, and then 30 seconds later, I’ll be like, “You tell me your deepest secret, and I will tell you mine.” I have to gauge if we can go there.

Joanne:            Yes.

Brandy:            I tend to hate small talk.

Joanne:            But you understand its function.

Brandy:            Yes. Also, this highly sensitive part of me that I think that you have too, is that I’m not necessarily looking to make everybody comfortable in the room, but there’s like a version of that where — and then the work that I used to do with birth trauma stuff — it’s like picking up on cues from people like if somebody’s saying something, but their body language is different. I have all these antenna out that are feeling for something. With the small talk, we can do that, and then I can tell if somebody is a deeper person pretty quickly or if they’re not. I also appreciate people who aren’t deeper thinkers. I appreciate them, and I don’t want to put them in a situation where I’m asking them to reveal their darkest secret.

Joanne:            You’re gauging.

Brandy:            Yeah. I’m like, “Are we a fit?”

Joanne:            You’re doing a depth gauge.

Brandy:            Exactly.

Joanne:            You can work a room, but you can also read a room.

Brandy:            Yes.

Joanne:            I would tend to guess — I mean, this conversation aside, I definitely would have guessed that you were an extroverted highly sensitive person.

Brandy:            Really? What?!

Joanne:            But I don’t know. It’s just because you’re such a good communicator. I mean, I remember when we were having our conversation for the podcast when you were my podcast guests, and I was like, “I’m hardly gonna have to edit this. She is an amazing communicator.” The fact that every time I listened to an episode of your podcast, I feel like I’ve just had a really deep meaningful conversation with a girlfriend which is exactly the point of your podcast.

Brandy:            Aww, thanks.

Joanne:            You’re welcome. You’re very insightful and intuitive, but I do think that you don’t shy away from interaction like an extreme introvert would. Maybe, you’re an introvert, but you’re just not an extreme introvert.

Brandy:            Yeah. Maybe, that’s the case.

Joanne:            I have one more question for you that might help tease it out. Did you have a bachelorette party?

Brandy:            Yes, I had a bachelorette party. It was a joint bachelor/bachelorette party.

Joanne:            Okay, so it was like a couple’s party.

Brandy:            Yes. It was weird. It was in Vegas and not weird in a bad way. It was super fun. Even at my wedding, I was walking around saying “hi” to everybody. Here were all the people that I loved the most in the world, and I just had like a 30 second interaction with people. It kind of killed me because I wanted deep alone conversation with everybody. What does that tell you?

Joanne:            That seems more introverted to me. I had the same exact thing happen. I’ve never heard anyone talk about it before. I woke up every morning of my honeymoon going, “Oh, my gosh, I can’t believe I didn’t get to talk to this person.” Having not just regret but actual guilt over it was like, “That person traveled in to go to my wedding, and I don’t even know what’s going on in her life right now. I’m so fond of her, but we haven’t necessarily had time to catch up and didn’t have time to catch up. Here she was in the same room with me, and I didn’t get to bond. Uh!”

Brandy:            Yes. That to me is almost like terrorism. Put the people that you want to have meaningful conversation with just at arm’s reach, and then have them leave. It’s like, “No!”

Joanne:            Torture!

Brandy:            Yeah, total torture. That part makes me feel like, “That’s gotta be an introverted quality,” because I definitely know that I prefer the smaller, more intimate groups, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed that that matters more to me. When I was a kid, I think either I didn’t really think about it, or it was just fun to be in a big group of people. But as an adult, I don’t want to be around big groups of people really at all. Like small talk with a big group of people, no way.

Joanne:            You and I are both introverts to whom interaction with other people is life giving and not soul sucking.

Brandy:            Yes, that’s it.

Joanne:            But it’s the style with which we choose to interact. The reason I asked you about your bachelorette party is because when one of my girlfriends suggested that she throw me a bachelorette party, I was like, “Eh,” because all the people in my wedding party were very meaningful and important women in my life, but they didn’t know each other. I was like, “I don’t know how this is gonna work with all of us together,” but when my sister-in-law wants to go do anything, she always gathers a crowd. She has this huge group of friends. That’s just the way she rolls. I actually like tagging along, but I would never put something like that together myself.

Brandy:            Yes, I could see that. I could see not minding being on, sort of, the fringe of it. I wouldn’t mind that. I think because you and I are similar, this sort of “tending to everybody” and putting our feelers out and reading people, to do that for 20 people is not possible. But to do that for two people is amazing and great.

Joanne:            Yeah, for sure.

Brandy:            But if you didn’t have to do that and if you could be a part of the group but not feel like you have the responsibility and the deep connection that you needed to connect with them on that level, then it would be okay. I think that’s why sometimes I feel okay in bigger group scenarios because they’re not all my most important people, so you can be friends.

Joanne:            Mm hmm.

Brandy:            Since your mom was an extrovert, did you feel like she understood you? Maybe, because she was really into this psychology kind of stuff and personalities, she did get you, but were there things that you wish were different? Or do you feel like she understood really who you were?

Joanne:            It’s funny, she tells me that she thought I was an extrovert. She’s like, “I guess I did such a good job of teaching you to be an extrovert that I thought you were one.” {laughter}

Brandy:            {laughter}

Joanne:            She didn’t really understand why the doorbells struck terror in my heart. I have one daughter who hears the phone ring, and she goes, “Oh, goody! People!” With the other one, the phone rings, and she’s like, “If I could crawl into a hole in the floor, I would right now.” {laughter}

Brandy:            {laughter} Right.

Joanne:            Because my mom was so interested and focused on each of us (I just have one sibling) as individuals and she was into the psychology pretty early on and she just cared so much about knowing us as individuals, I did feel well cared for, and I did feel understood. I understood that I was different than her though, but I think also because of my dad. I am a lot like my dad, and he’s an extreme introvert. My mom took pains to understand him, and I think he was pretty good at explaining himself. She kind of saw those traits, and she did such a great job of helping me along during those really shy years. Some of these tips that I have come directly from her. I’m a very well mothered person.

Brandy:            Aww. Will you give us some of the tips? Are these specifically tips for introverts if you’re parenting or in relationship with an introvert?

Joanne:            Yes. So, you either are one or you love one, basically because about half of the earth’s population is introvert and about half an extrovert give or take. The statistics on that change over time, so I don’t know exactly. Our culture in America, in this decade, is definitely an extroverted culture. It hasn’t always been that way. You can look back to the 40’s and 50’s and 60’s, and I think there was much less value placed on entertainment, value on the individual, and there was much more value placed on earnestness and hard work and perseverance and nose to the grindstone. Somebody I was talking to said, “Every country has an enneagram number, and ours is a three,” which is basically extroverted, and we’re very image conscious. We place a large value on image. If you had to place the value on image versus work ethic, if you look at all of the content that we’re pumping out, the answer is we have more value on image than work ethic, even if individuals obviously are very different. So yeah, our country right now is an inconsolably tyrannical toddler, but that’s kind of a different story.

Brandy:            It’s awful. Yes, right. Remember today, we were not gonna be brought to our knees.

Joanne:            {laughter}

Brandy:            Today, we’re gonna talk about some fun tips.

Joanne:            Keep it light. {laughter}

Brandy:            {laughter}

Joanne:            Yeah, so you either are an introvert or you love an introvert. Either these tips will help you explain yourself if you are an introvert and to get what you need, or if you’re loving and raising or in relationship with an introvert, it will help you to know how the world looks to them and to help them navigate our extroverted culture.

Brandy:            Okay.

Joanne:            The first four tips have to do with helping your introverted loved one with their communication. Communication is more of a challenge for introverts because we live more inside of our heads than we do externally, in general. Introverts will process inwardly, usually, and sometimes without words, whereas extroverts process externally and with words. It is very hard. If I asked my introverted daughter to go get a spoon at a Dairy Queen (say she dropped hers), she might look at me in terror. But if I say, “Walk up to the counter, and say, ‘Pardon me, may I please have a spoon?’” she’ll just go do it because she’s not having to come up with the script for that interaction. It sounds very elementary, especially for somebody who doesn’t have a hard time spontaneously interacting, but spontaneous interaction is really hard for some introverts. If you ask your introverted child to call and order a pizza, it just might kill them off. But if you say, “They’re gonna answer, and they’re probably gonna say this. The next thing you say is this and that,” and go back and forth and get them kind of comfortable — because there are a lot of first times for kids. Even us adults who are introverts, we’ve got it kind of wired. We’ve already kind of put together all these scripts in our minds. My little girl said, “Mom, you always seem like you know the right thing to say.” That was a hard time coming. I mean, I started out on this earth not knowing at all what to say and not saying much.

Brandy:            Right. You’re like, “I’ve only spent the last 40 years of my life figuring out exactly what I need to say in every situation.” {laughter}

Joanne:            Exactly! {laughter}

Brandy:            “Now, I’m going to pass it on to you.” {laughter}

Joanne:            Yeah! Now, I have all these little canned scripts — and again, not to be manipulative or disingenuous, but just to not have to spontaneously construct verbiage every single time. The other thing that really helps me, as an adult introvert, is to talk through things with my extroverted girlfriends because words just come more easily to some people. I have known especially a few friends who just so beautifully will boil down what I’m trying to express in three or four words. Then, I stick it in my pocket, and I have it.

Brandy:            Right.

Joanne:            Then, I never don’t have that, and then I can easily express. So, that’s number one: provide scripts in situations that seem uncomfortable when spontaneous interaction may be necessary. Number two is to allow processing time. Because introverts process inwardly, if you ask them a question and then they don’t answer right away, it isn’t because they’re keeping secrets from you or they’re trying to decide what to divulge. It’s just that they kind of need to process that inside, so let them skip a beat. Just forgive them for that. They need to skip a beat. They don’t always have right away a way to express their opinion or their desires or their needs or anything. The other thing is, as a kid, I had a lot of fears, and it never once occurred to me that discussing my fears with my parents might help to dissipate them.

Brandy:             Hmm.

Joanne:            I just was afraid. I feared on my own. For instance, whenever they went out on a date and I had a babysitter, for some reason, I was afraid that if they weren’t with me, they weren’t going to be safe which is kind of delusional.

Brandy:            Yeah, that’s normal kid, I feel, to a certain extent.

Joanne:            Yeah, for sure. But I never talked to my parents about that. As I grew older and as now I’m raising kids on my own, I see that when my kids have fears like this, if they discuss them, sometimes that’s enough to just dissipate them. But with your introverted kids, it’s not necessarily going to occur to them to discuss their fears with you, so ask them. Ask them specifics about their fears. It might feel like a fishing expedition, but it’s, I think, going be really worth it because you’ll know your kid better, and they might just have this can of worms that they had no idea would help to pop open. The next one is to make note of when your introverted loved one is naturally more communicative. For me in high school, this was right when my mom picked me up from school. I wonder now if it’s because we were sitting together alone, but we weren’t face to face, so it felt like a very low intensity interaction.

Brandy:            Oh, right.

Joanne:            It can be time of day or it can just be situation. I definitely find with my introvert that if we go for a walk, I can get her talking a lot more easily than if I sit down and look straight in her eyes and say, “We need to talk.” That might kind of shut her down. I am definitely going to miss it when she has her driver’s license because I definitely feel like it’s in the car time or walking time is definitely the time when she opens up.

Brandy:            Aww.

Joanne:            But I was talking to the host of Grace for Single Parents about this issue, and she said that her introverted daughter is most communicative late in the evening which kills her right off because she’s a morning person. She says it’s totally worth it. “I stay up because I need to chat with my daughter, and this is the time when she’s ready to chat.”

Brandy:            Right.

Joanne:            Just be looking for cues that there might be a pattern to when your introvert is most communicative. Then, the second category of tips is to support their need for disengagement. We want to help them with communication, but we also want to support their need for disengagement. It’s really important to allow introverts time in their own head, especially after a busy day of socializing. This can either be just running errands or having lots of deep meaningful conversations all strung together or anything that requires a lot of spontaneous social interaction.

Brandy:            Like parenting, for example.

Joanne:            Yeah!

Brandy:            Parenting all day.

Joanne:            I used to think that my kids were both extroverts because they’re both in my face, in my face, in my face, needing, needing, needing.

Brandy:            {laughter} Right.

Joanne:            I used to say to my husband, “Don’t I look black and blue? Don’t I just look completely picked dry and black and blue?” He’d be like, “You’re bonkers. Let’s get you some help.” {laughter} But I know you know how I feel because I am reading your book.

Brandy:            Yes.

Joanne:            I didn’t necessarily know how to put it in such graceful terms, but I definitely felt like my kids were terrorizing me without meaning to because they needed so much from me. They were using me up so, and they were ringing me dry.

Brandy:            Right, but then you watch other moms who — I know moms who their kids can be bugging them, hanging on them, asking them stuff, and they’re just like — I’m watching, and I’m like, “Eh, too much.” And then, they’re fine with it. This side of me, specifically, that’s the highly sensitive, I feel like anybody who’s a highly sensitive person who’s about to have kids…good fucking luck.

Joanne:            Uh huh. {laughter}

Brandy:            That part right there I feel like is one of the hardest things because they naturally – it’s developmentally appropriate – but they are throwing things in your face, hitting you, on your lap needing you, pulling you, all of that stuff that you sometimes feel like you… I feel like there’s two choices: you either numb out to it which I’ve never figured out how to do. I’m actually currently trying to figure out how do that during quarantine.

Joanne:            {laughter} That can be a useful skill.

Brandy:            It’s not as intense. I feel like my kids are finally at that golden age where I’m like, “Oh, I want this age forever.” But still, constant human contact takes its toll on me. I’m trying to figure out a way not to be annoyed at it all the time. I’m only a weekend of this new idea of like, “I’m just gonna try to do what other people do. Brandy, why can’t you just be in denial of something? Why can’t you take a feeling and put it on a shelf and be like, ‘I know that exists, but I’m not going to take it out every single day. That can be real, but let’s try to find a way to get through it.’” I feel like the choices are you either numb out or you’re raging all the time.

Joanne:            Yeah.

Brandy:            I’m trying a different one on for size. Anyway, I didn’t mean to derail you.

Joanne:            No, that’s so good because I feel the same. It also happens with my husband because I think we mentioned I’m married to an extreme extrovert, and he will want to have a deep meaningful conversation while the TV’s on. I’m like, “I cannot do this.” He’s like, “Why are you looking at the TV?” I’m like, “Why do you insist on having it on when you’re trying to get something meaningful out of me? I can’t do this. I’m overstimulated. I’m distracted. I don’t mean to be, but turn that off.” I’m a TV turner offer. {laughter} Anytime anyone leaves a room, I’m like, “Bink, it goes off. When you come back, you can turn it back on if you want to.” The kids are kind of — it’s just the constant flashing lights and moving body parts and questions and needs and smells.

Brandy:            And people doing gymnastics on the couch at you. People doing gymnastics around you.

Joanne:            So crazy. As moms, we definitely need to find out what refills our tank. I think it’s different in different phases of life. We need to figure it out, and we need to get some of it.

Brandy:            Yes.

Joanne:            We need to recruit our co-parents if we’re lucky enough to have them. We need to sit down and talk to them about what we need, what they need, how I can get what I need, and how you can get what you need. Lucky for extroverts, I feel like sometimes it’s easier for them. What they need is just default what’s happening, and what I need, I need to retreat from what’s happening. Then, I felt guilty.

Brandy:            Yes. That’s exactly right. I was going to ask you, and I was going to save this question to afterwards: why did you not come up with tips for extroverts? I was thinking because the world caters to them.

Joanne:            That’s exactly right.

Brandy:            They don’t need the extra help because that is the “norm” or the expectation. It’s like, “Well, just go out in the world and live because this world is made for you.” But for the introverts, not so much.

Joanne:            Right now, during quarantine, not so much, but if my extroverted sister-in-law is bored, all she has to do is go and seek that out. That is seen as completely normative behavior. But if I’m overstimulated by what’s happening in my default daily life and I have to retreat from that to refill my tank, I feel like I have to apologize for it. I feel like I have to plan for it. I feel like I have to pull teeth to get it. That is the plight of a mother in general, but that is the double plight of an introverted mother.

Brandy:            Yeah, and then add the highly sensitive on top of it. It’s like, “What?” {laughter}

Joanne:            Bingo. When Scott wants to have people over for dinner after we’ve been at a swim meet all day, I’m like, “Are you trying to kill me?” {laughter}

Brandy:            Right. {laughter}

Joanne:            What we did is we had really good open lines of communication, and we both figured out what we need and how to help each other get it. For the most part, he is on my team as far as helping me, but every now and then it just isn’t possible. But yeah, I feel like his needs default happen in the household, and my needs default — my energy is being sucked dry as a default.

Brandy:            Yeah, right. I’m similar. It seems like I’m always like, “God, I wish I could be you. I wish I could live in your shoes because everything’s great. The people are laughing and jumping on you, and it’s great.” This is probably totally wrong, but it seems like if you’re an extrovert in our culture, you kind of have a leg up. There are certain things that you’re not being taxed on. I’m sure that there are other ways that people are being taxed, but it just seems like to be more of the default of what the society is made to be seems like you would have an easier time. It just kind of tracks that way.

Joanne:            Absolutely. I think for sure, but there’s always a flip side of the coin. I try to always remind myself of that. The reasons why I love my husband and the reasons why I had — my top three reasons why I love him and married him, the flip side of that coin makes me nuts. But there’s no way to tease apart those two sides of the coin. It’s one coin, right?

Brandy:            Right.

Joanne:            I love the fact that my husband is super strong willed. He’s so strong. He knows what he knows, and he is very sure of himself. He is not afraid to express his opinion to anyone. I love the strength of that, but when we disagree on something and I feel like he’s trying to pull me over or when he is sharing his opinion with somebody that I don’t think wants it and I’m ready to crawl in a hole, it’s like, “Wait a minute, Joanne. If he didn’t have the attribute that is making him behave this way right now, he would not have been attractive to you in first place.” {laughter} In our flip side of the coin, our superpower as introverts and also of highly sensitive people, I think, is that we do think more deeply. We can read a room. We’re going to be the ones that sit back and take sort of the overarching perspective on things and kind of piece together elements that don’t seem like they fit into the same puzzle. I wouldn’t want to give that up. I feel so deeply.

Brandy:            I know.

Joanne:            My husband and my daughter, who’s an extrovert, are like, “Why would you listen to this melancholy music?” And I’m like, “Don’t you just love sometimes to feel something deeply even if it’s a negative emotion?” And they’re like, “No.” {laughter}

Brandy:            {laughter}

Joanne:            It’s complicated, Brandy. Along the same lines of giving introverts time in their own head after a really socially demanding day, they also need grace and space after an over stimulating environment. Even if I haven’t had to talk to somebody all day long, if I’m at a swim meet, it’s hot in there, and I can smell the chlorine. My daughter might be emotional about her races that are coming up, so I’m stressed about that. I have to volunteer for two hours as a timer, and I’m worried I’m gonna do that wrong. It’s just really loud and echoey, and everybody’s chairs are kind of bumping up against everybody else’s chairs. The swim meet is like the quintessential overstimulating situation for me. I wouldn’t miss it for the world because my daughter is a competitive swimmer, but it is very, very taxing. After a situation like that, I think we need to give the introverts in our lives some space to disengage. They don’t necessarily need to be alone, but if you can not demand eye contact and not demand face-to-face engagement for just a little while, then they can kind of regroup and fill back up their battery. Then, they’ll return.

Brandy:            Yeah.

Joanne:            Thirdly, if you, as an extrovert or even as an introverted parent who happens to not have their battery depleted at the moment, feel like you want interaction with your introverted loved one, the least taxing type of interaction is shoulder-to-shoulder.

Brandy:            Hmm.

Joanne:            If you want to be interacting with your introvert, or you’re an introvert and your extroverted kid wants to interact so badly with you but you feel like your battery’s depleted, cook with them or put a jigsaw puzzle together with them or go for a walk. Do something where you’re doing the same thing, you’re doing it together, but you’re not face-to-face with them because it’s that face-to-face interaction which drains the battery the quickest for some introverts.

Brandy:            Yes, that makes so much sense.

Joanne:            Yeah. My youngest daughter, she would be happy as long as she was on my lap. That was just enough for her, but she always wanted to be facing out. We weren’t depleting each other because we were just there together. That’s not necessarily shoulder-to-shoulder, but it’s kind of a similar type of interaction.

Brandy:            Yeah.

Joanne:            The next one is to support one-on-one friendships. I think families where one or both parents are extroverts or at least where the primary parent is an extrovert, if there’s an introverted child who has one or two deep friendships, the extroverted parent might worry that their child is not socially successful, but they’re just gauging social success through their own lens. If your child never wants to have six kids over for a sleep over, but they want to alternate between these two favorite friends, that’s okay. That doesn’t mean that they’re not being socially successful. It’s just that their brand of social success is a different brand. You can go ahead and feel like you can support that without worrying that they’re not cutting it. One-on-one friendships are very, very, very important to introverts. They probably aren’t hanging out with a huge gaggle of friends the majority of the time. What goes along with that is to support solitary activities. With your introvert, don’t be worried if they want to read a book or if they want to play a solo video game or if all of the sports they choose tend to be not team sports but rather individual sports, that’s just normal for their nature. You do have to look out for warning signs for depression, anxiety, isolation, and things like that in every kid and in every person. Those are going to show up differently depending on the nature of that person, but don’t confuse their normal nature and what they would normally gravitate towards to be signs of lack of success or signs of depression. I’m trying to think of some solitary activities. What did what did you gravitate towards when you were in high school and college? Did you gravitate more towards solitary? There weren’t as many solitary activities available I feel like.

Brandy:            Gosh. It was all about hanging out with friends. We had a big group of friends. I remember we all got pictures taken together. I think it was around our senior year, and there were like nine of us girls in a picture. I’m like, “How did that work?” Because I actually liked everybody and didn’t feel overwhelmed by it. A part of me is wondering what changed, or maybe it’s that time of your life when you’re more into that.

Joanne:            Yeah, I think adolescence is a time where we become more autonomous, and part of that is definitely gravitating towards peers rather than family. It is a normal time where we are reaching out more to peers. I also think that high school is a very extroverted place.

Brandy:            Yes, right.

Joanne:            I think that we just sort of play along. You may have had a deeper relationship with a couple of those girls but found a lot of fun in being in the group. If you weren’t the ringleader and you didn’t have to always be making sure everybody was interacting comfortably with each other, then it maybe was just a really comfortable, sort of, soft place to land and to hang out. Even as an extreme introvert, I was terrified of being alone in high school. My worst nightmare would be to not have anyone to sit with at lunch the first day. I started out, my first day of high school, not knowing anyone, and it was really, really awful. It would have been awful for anybody, but for somebody who’s shy and has a hard time sort of initiating — I don’t anymore. My kids can attest to the fact that I’m initiating deep social interaction everywhere I go, and they’re like, “Mom, let’s just go. You don’t have to be best friends with the grocery checker.” And I’m like, “But I just wondered about this one aspect of her life.” {laughter}

Brandy:            {laughter} That’s so real. I so feel that.

Joanne:            For instance, I was a gymnast. It’s a team sport, but it’s solitary at the same time because your team isn’t relying on you. You’re kind of doing your own thing. The accolades are additive, but you’re still kind of doing your own thing.

Brandy:            You have me thinking about my mom. She used to say, when we were little, and then she’s said to me as I’ve had kids, “When you guys were younger (my brother and I), there were other neighborhood kids that could go all day. They could go to baseball practice, then go to a friend’s house, then go to the pool, then go out to dinner, and come home. You guys always needed your downtime.” We would always come home after doing one or two things. I think that that’s true. Still to this day, if I have a day that’s just — if I have more than one thing planned, I’m like, “Oh, man. That’s too much.” But as I’m trying to figure out my kids, I’m realizing that I think that they’re similar to how I was in that they don’t necessarily love going all day, but I’m realizing as we’re having this conversation that my kids aren’t really extreme either way. When you explain about your introverted daughter and your extroverted daughter, those seem like personality traits and situations that you could definitely be like, “Okay, I know that you fit in this category or you lean towards that category,” but my kids are kind of in the middle. I feel like they’re kind of like me in a way. Even this pandemic, I’ve heard some of my neighbors say things like, “Oh, man. My kids are so social. This is so hard for them.” I’m kind of thinking to myself, “My kids miss their friends, but they’re also enjoying some of the stuff that they’re doing at home and just being with us.” I don’t know what they are, and I’m wondering if they kind of follow my lead a little bit. Then, I also think, “Well, they haven’t really figured themselves out totally.” I don’t know where to put them. Not that they need to be put somewhere, but I’m just wondering.

Joanne:            You love your kids, and you want to optimize their experience. You want to try to tailor their lives to something that jives with their nature if you can. I think if you have a parent, like a primary parent, and children who all have very similar natures, then distinguishing these characteristics in that particular setting aren’t necessarily as earth shattering. It sounds like you wouldn’t put five activities together on the calendar anyway, so you’ve never really had to see if your kids have a preference for that kind of a day.

Brandy:            That’s such a good point. We already work on the same line. We’re copacetic already, so I think maybe that’s why there hasn’t been an extreme. Maybe, I mean, I was gonna say that if I was more extreme, then maybe I would notice it. But I am kind of extreme in some of my highly sensitive ways. But then again, I think my kids can be too. I don’t know. This is interesting. You definitely have my wheels turning.

Joanne:            Mm hmm. It’s a lot to think about, isn’t it?

Brandy:            Yeah.

Joanne:            We have so many different relationships and interactions in our lives, and everybody’s coming at those relationships with their own nature. It’s just this really, really complicated puzzle. I think that the more we can learn about ourselves and each other, the more we can improve those relationships, but it’s not simple. We can’t boil everyone down to one word for sure. So yeah, it’s definitely more complicated than that.

Brandy:            Umm, did I derail you? Where were you on your list?

Joanne:            No, I have one more, but I want to say one more thing about what you said. When my elder daughter, my extrovert, started kindergarten, she would have been full-day kindergarten if she could. She was so ready. She just wanted to be out of the house. She was ready for her own apartment. She’s just like, “I’m good to go, Mom.” Whereas, my introverted daughter — and granted she was younger for her grade than my older one. There are always multiple factors, but she would come home from a half-day of kindergarten and put her nighty on. Done. 11:30, done. I was like, “Oh, no. She’s not gonna be able to handle first grade.” She handled the first grade beautifully, but her downtime is very important to her. I have not honored this particular trait in myself, but I honor it pretty well on her because I don’t want to burn her out. I mind our calendar, and I have learned, too, to mind my calendar. If there’s one really socially taxing thing on the calendar for the weekend, then I probably won’t want to put another one on there. The way I learned this is because I become a weeping pile of gelatinous —

Brandy:            Seizures? {laughter}

Joanne:            Yeah — after every Christmas because we were going to five or six parties within a two-week period. You’ve got to figure out what to wear, and you’re socializing with people that you don’t know very well. We were making all these demands, and Scott would be good at the end of it. I would be like, “I’m losing it. I am not enjoying myself.” Finally, we realized that if Christmas is hard and there are so many things on the calendar, then that’s probably a signal that we should try not to let that happen for Fourth of July weekend. We’re not going to go to three parties back to back and have brunch with people the next day and friends coming in from out of town the next day. That’s gonna fry me, and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean that I have less skill than someone else or less capacity. It just means that my skills — {laughter} Scott will say, “You’re good at other things.”

Brandy:            Yes. {laughter} Right. But you know what? Real fast, when you were talking about your daughter and wondering how she would do at full-day school or first grade — this is helping me to kind of understand a little bit about my daughter. Again, because I see that I’m not so extreme or I think my kids aren’t so different than me that there’s this like, “Oh, wow, you’re really different,” so I’m thinking about that. Like I said, we just kind of jive, but now I’m realizing that — and something that this pandemic and the distance learning thing showed me is that my daughter would do the same thing. She would go to half-day kindergarten, and she would come home and put on a nightgown and have lunch. Most of the day, she would cry. She would just be done and tired, and it was like, “Why are we crying? What’s the deal?” While we were doing distance learning (she was in first grade this last year), I found it to be that she’s a really good, independent worker, she wants to do a good job, and she’s focused, but I found that she had a very short span of how long she could do schoolwork.

Joanne:            Oh.

Brandy:            I think a lot of parents found this out.

Joanne:            Uh huh, yeah.

Brandy:            What would happen is we’d be doing a reading assignment, and she would start crying at every word she had to sound out which is not the easiest way to teach somebody to read when they’re crying every time they have to sound something out because it is sounding all of the things out.

Joanne:            Right. This is traumatic.

Brandy:            What clicked in my brain was, “Oh, when she was at school, she had to hold all this in.” She felt the same way, but she couldn’t cry every time she sounded out a word because her teacher wouldn’t like it. But she knows that she has more safety and she knows that I love her and that she can fall apart, and so it just showed me like, “Oh, wow. That’s what was happening when she came home and would fall apart during kindergarten.” She hadn’t been able to do it in the classroom because she was trying to be a good girl.

Joanne:            She was bottling it up, and it was just one intense activity after another. She wasn’t allowed space time and privacy to have her reaction. Aww.

Brandy:            Yeah, and she really loved the teacher. She always wants to do good and all that kind of stuff, so that really was eye opening to me that it’s like “Oh, no. It wasn’t that it wasn’t there. It was just that she had to bottle it up.” That, I think, has been an interesting thing to see with this so like, “Okay, so then how can I better support her when we have to do distance learning again or when we don’t have to and she’s back at school? How can I support that part of her that has a limited amount of time that she can be taxed while also being a ‘good girl’ or following the rules?”

Joanne:            Mm hmm. And what can you communicate to her teacher that would make her teacher understand that every 30 minutes, she needs five minutes of disengagement. How does that compute into the way we educate right now which is one teacher and 30 kids and a big room. It would be really, really hard.

Brandy:            Yes.

Joanne:            I remember that I used to do a lot of water fountain and a lot of pencil sharpener.

Brandy:            {laughter} yes.

Joanne:            {laughter} I think that might be why I was just like I gotta get up and walk away, and I’m gonna take my time.

Brandy:            Yep.

Joanne:            You may just be able to identify a few acceptable in-the-classroom culture activities that she would be allowed to do when she needed to that would help refill her battery without making waves in the classroom. That might be something that the teacher might have suggestions too. Like, “Oh, I never mind when the kids get up to have a drink, so if things are too intense, just slowly walk to the water fountain, take a drink, and slowly walk back to your seat.”

Brandy:            That’s a cool thing, maybe, to give her. Even if I didn’t tell the teacher but to tell my daughter, like, “Here’s a couple of sneaky ways that if you want to just have a minute to kind of breathe and just pull back, get your pencils, head to the sharpener…” {laughter}

Joanne:            Yes. So, my last little tidbit — and this actually, strangely, does not apply to me or to my introverted daughter, but I believe the experts that this is something important to some introverts, and that is that arriving early can alleviate anxiety when it comes to being involved in large group activity. If your kid is in a gymnastics class and it’s really chaotic and they love the gymnastics but it’s sort of overwhelming to them, if you arrive five minutes early where they can walk in and maybe the coach is there and only one other child and then they can kind of be introduced to the crowd and a larger group in small increments, that has been shown to be very helpful. I don’t do that. In fact, I’m kind of chronically late which is a completely different subject. I think it’s because I’m an optimist, and I always think I can do more than I can in any given space of time. {laughter} For some reason, arriving early does not seem to be important to my daughter unless she’s worried something. She goes to casting calls and stuff because she’s interested in acting and singing which does not seem like it would be something an introvert would love.

Brandy:            Interesting.

Joanne:            She loves it because she can showcase her creativity, and there’s like a sense of removal when you’re on stage or you’re performing. It’s like it’s not really you. It’s a persona, and you’re not really interacting face-to-face with any particular person. She loves to do that, and we will arrive early to those things. That’s more of an anxiety alleviating thing, not because she’s an introvert. It’s so important to her that it helps to arrive early. My mom made me chronically late for everything because she’s just super, super laid back, and that was really stressful to me as a kid. It wasn’t because I have the social thing. It was because I was a people pleaser, and I didn’t want to get in trouble. I didn’t want to deal with the consequences of being late. Anyway, those are the tips, so keep in mind that they need a little help with communication, provide scripts, allow processing time, ask specifics about their fears, and make a note of when they’re naturally more communicative, and support the fact that they need regular disengagement by giving them time in their own head after a social day, giving them grace and space after an over stimulating environment, engaging in shoulder-to-shoulder activities which aren’t as taxing to them, supporting their one-on-one friendships, they’re solitary activities, and consider arriving early for big group activities. There you have it.

Brandy:            Wow. And so, tips for extroverts. Tip number one: enjoy life, you MF’ers. {laughter}

Joanne:             {laughter} Yeah, you lucky, lucky duck.

Brandy:            {laughter} Show up and enjoy it, you sack of shit.

Joanne:            {laughter} Yeah.

Brandy:            Man, that’s really interesting. I definitely have a lot going through my head about where my kids are at and then in relation to where I’m at. I’m like realizing how lucky I am that — not to say it’s unlucky if you’re not on the same — Yeah, let me rephrase because its not lucky or unlucky.

Joanne:            Well, it’s more work though. Yeah, you don’t have a puzzle to solve in that particular area like a lot of us do.

Brandy:            Right, yes. Okay, that’s exactly how I feel about it is it’s one less thing and, maybe, the universe is like, “Well, we’ve given you — you are highly sensitive. You have some health issues. Maybe, we will give you this free pass. Maybe, you can just know that the way that you tend to yourself and the way that your husband tends to his self, your kids will follow that, and that will be easy enough.” Maybe, that was my free pass. So, I’ll take it.

Joanne:            {laughter} Threw you a bone on that one.

Brandy:            {laughter} Yeah, exactly. “Other things have been hard, so here’s this.” Did we figure out what I am because last I remember us talking, you thought I was an extroverted, highly sensitive person. But everything you’re saying about tips for introverts, I’m like, “Oh, yes. I need to remember that I need time for processing. I need to disengage. I love shoulder-to-shoulder activities.”

Joanne:            I think you are a highly communicative, highly sensitive introvert.

Brandy:            {laughter}

Joanne:            {laughter}

Brandy:            I love that just 40 minutes can just be the night and day, I’m all of a sudden something totally different. You think I’m a highly communicative, highly sensitive introvert, but if I’m on a scale, I’m more towards middle of introvert.

Joanne:            Yeah, I don’t think you’re an extreme introvert. Yeah, no.

Brandy:            Okay.

Joanne:            But because you’re highly sensitive, sometimes you’re going to feel more extremely introverted because you’re highly sensitive part of you is not being well tended to. Then, you’ll want to withdraw and that feels introverted.

Brandy:            Next time somebody asks me, “Are you an introvert or an extrovert?” I’m going to tell them this whole thing, and they’re going to be like, “Uh, no. You’re just annoying.”

Joanne:            {laughter} They’ll be like, “I’m sorry I asked.”

Brandy:            Right. It’s gonna be like the thing when someone’s like, “How old’s your baby,” and you’re like, “347 weeks.” This is gonna be like too much information.

Joanne:            {laughter}

Brandy:            Perfect. I’m looking forward to making lots of friends here. {laughter}

Joanne:            I’m an introvert but not super extreme, but the whole highly sensitive piece is a separate piece, but it is really interesting.

Brandy:            Well then, it’s funny, too, because most people, like we talked about, when they hear the word “sensitive,” they just automatically think emotionally rather than like — what did you say?

Joanne:            Neurologically.

Brandy:             Yes.

Joanne:            Yeah, you’re just biologically — I don’t get my feelings hurt very easily at all. I cannot be bothered to have my feelings hurt very often. If I do get them hurt, it’s really hard on me.

Brandy:            Me too. Yes.

Joanne:            I am highly sensitive in the fact that my nerves get jangled very easily.

Brandy:            Yes.

Joanne:            And I can get overstimulated very easily. I mean, I remember when I was in high school, I had this boyfriend. We went to the movies a lot and on dates, and he’d want to hold my hand. He’d always want to rub his thumb on my hand back, and I’m like, “Are you trying to kill me? You can hold my hand but be still, please.” He just thought that meant I didn’t like him or whatever. At the time, I didn’t understand. I just thought I was being bitchy, but really it was just way too overstimulating. I’m like, “I’m trying to listen to this movie and follow it, and you’re poking me.” Basically, I felt like he was going, “Joanne. Joanne. Joanne.” {laughter}

Brandy:            Yes. Totally.

Joanne:            I think that’s my highly sensitive part, not my introvert part. I thought it was just because I was mean because that’s not like an introvert. Many introverts love to cuddle, and you don’t have to do it completely still. Then, there’s the whole thing about if my husband wants to be right up in my face, and then after a few minutes with intimacy, I feel like I just need a break. I don’t necessarily need a break from him, but I just need to turn my head or something. It’s like, “I don’t know. I’m special. I can’t help it.” {laughter}

Brandy:            Yes! I may or may not keep this in the podcast because this is a lot. I hope you can handle it. 69’ing is way too much multitasking.

Joanne:            {laughter}

Brandy:            I don’t know. I feel like you could understand this, but it’s like, in the moment, sometimes it could be like, “This would be fun.” And then I’m like, “I — no. I –.” I cannot handle it. {laughter}

Joanne:            {laughter} Yes! Multitasking. Yes, it’s so funny because I can do two things at once, but I can’t do two things at once and take in all of this sensory stuff that you’re trying to send my way at the same time. I’m gonna short circuit.

Brandy:            Oh, my gosh. Yes! That’s where I’m at on that. I can’t remember when I realized that, and that I was like, “Oh, this feels like Parenthood. This is like one kid needs this, but then I’m doing I’m doing…” I’m like, “I don’t like this.”

Joanne:            {laughter} I can’t wait to talk to my husband about this because my girls are 14 and 16, so we’re having a lot of sexual talk in our house right now. It’s like, “Oh, that’s what she said,” jokes are flying because they’re just starting to sort of tap into that part of the world.

Brandy:            {laughter} Right.

Joanne:            Of course, if somebody’s phone number ends in six nine, it’s like, “Hahaha.”

Brandy:            Oh, teenagers love this number. They’re into it.

Joanne:            Yeah, so funny. I think recently, my daughter asked me some superficial question. I think she asked my husband, “Did you guys ever do that?” My husband’s like, “Well, yeah. Duh!”

Brandy:            {laughter}

Joanne:            Then, I got to thinking, “But it’s been like 20 years. Why is that?” {laughter}

Brandy:            I know why. I’ll tell you know.

Joanne:            That got taken off the table a long time ago, and it ain’t ‘cause I’m a prude. {laughter}

Brandy:            Exactly. Oh, my God. It’s too much, especially if you have kids. It’s like your nursing someone, and someone else is like throwing a Thomas Train at your head. It’s too many things.

Joanne:            Yes, it is. {laughter}

Brandy:            Oh, my God. That’s so funny.

Joanne:            I have a hard time switching gears too. This is a completely different subject, but it’s like, “I am tunnel vision. If I am doing this right now, then I don’t want you to be trying to bring sex into it.”

Brandy:            Yes, exactly. That’s how I ideally would live. If I’m doing the dishes, I actually love it if that’s all I’m doing. I think as a mom, that’s what happens to us. We get so frazzled and pulled in so many directions that I don’t really care what I’m doing, just don’t make me caretake people while I’m doing it. That’s all I ask.

Joanne:            You’re never only doing one thing. That’s the thing. Yeah, you can’t just do the meditative task of the warm soapy water on the dishes and rinse them, and now they’re clean, and it’s a task well done. You get interrupted 6,011 times, and then you’re pissed.

Brandy:            Yes.

Joanne:            Then all of a sudden, you hate washing dishes, and it’s not really about that.

Brandy:            Goodness. Now that everybody knows way too much about both of us, where can people find you and your podcast?

Joanne:            {laughter} My podcast is the Fancy Free Podcast where we tell our most embarrassing funny stories so we all feel less alone in our imperfection. It’s so much fun.

Brandy:            It’s a blast.

Joanne:            I’m definitely finding that there’s some definite connection being made just because we’re willing to be vulnerable and laughing together. It’s a real recipe for intimacy, and it’s super fun. That’s at http://www.fancyfreepodcast.com, or you can find it on any podcast app or platform. I also blog at http://www.cozyclothesblog.com, and my loungewear will be available soon at http://www.shelfieshop.com, but it is not yet because it’s still being held hostage in a factory in the Bay Area of California that got closed down for multiple weeks.

Brandy:            Oh, no.

Joanne:            Yeah.

Brandy:            Remind me about your clothing. It’s comfy stuff, but there was something really smart about it. It’s like built-in bras. Is that right?

Joanne:            Yeah, it’s loungewear that’s super, super soft and cozy, but it has a little bit of breast support and nipple coverage. Not like an underwire bra, but just like so your boobs aren’t flapping in the wind. God forbid the doorbell should ring, you don’t have to cross your arms or traumatize the UPS guy.

Brandy:            Wow.

Joanne:            They’re kind of like street legal pajamas because you could sleep in them, and they’re soft enough and cozy enough and made for that. But also, they look like street wear, so if you have to go to school drop off or go get your Ben & Jerry’s fix, nobody’s gonna know. It’s like being in your pajamas incognito.

Brandy:            I love this. You have to tell me when you get your shipment is in because this sounds right up my alley.

Joanne:            Yeah, I definitely will.

Brandy:            Thank you so much for coming here today. I got out of bed for this today. I have to say that I’ve been getting out of bed really late these days. I was like, “Oh, my God. I have purpose and meaning in my life today. I get to have this conversation with you.” Thank you for coming here and really giving me a lot to chew on. I know the listeners are going to be able to use a lot of your tips but also maybe see themselves and their kids in a different way. So, thank you for coming and doing that for us.

Joanne:            Yes, absolutely. Thank you so much for having me. Girlfriend time is hard to come by right now, so this was like soul food. {laughter}

Brandy:            I know. Yes, this checked a couple different boxes — not too many that we’re overwhelmed and that it was too stimulating, but just the right amount of stimulating. {laughter}

Joanne:            {laughter} Exactly. The sweet spot.

Brandy:            That’s what she said. {laughter}

Joanne:            {laughter}

Brandy:            As I edited and played this episode back, it occurred to me that maybe I should have my family listen to this so they have a better idea of how my brain and neurons work (or don’t work) so they know it’s not personal when I can’t handle one more person talking to me. But yeah, maybe, I’d skip that last little part. {laughter} Also, I am turning into Michael Scott with all my “that’s what she said” comments. Uh, it’s a problem. My son overheard it while I was editing it and was like, “Nice joke, Mom.” Yeah. So, you can find links to the online test that Joanne mentioned on the podcast website, which is http://www.adultconversationpodcast.com/introvert.

Brandy:            Did you know that I have online transcripts for all of my episodes? I do! If you’re ever stuck with no headphones under a sleeping baby, you can still get in on the conversation. It’s not as fun, of course, but hey, we’re moms, and most of the time, we’re desperate. Also, if you want to continue the conversation online, join my Facebook group: the Adult Conversation Podcast Discussion Group. Here, you’ll find other adult conversationalists who like to share and dig deeper into the episodes. As always, thanks for listening.

** As always, thank you to Scott Weigel and his band, Seahorse Moon, for providing me with that jaunty intro and outro music. You guy are awesome. Check ’em out on iTunes.