It’s amazing how the internet allows you to find and connect with people you may otherwise never cross paths with. Technology plus a strong dash of serendipity can lead us to new people, communities, ideas, and information.
About a month ago, I stumbled across a blog that had me devouring every post and digging as far as the archives would let me. And without ever meeting the author, I felt I’d found a fellow soul sister.
Meet Jenn Granneman, the founder and creator of Introvert, Dear – an online community and blog dedicated to helping introverts and highly sensitive people understand themselves better and connect with other like-minded people.
Discovering her introversion completely changed Jenn’s life. She believes introverts can lead happy and fulfilling lives when they feel comfortable in their own skin. Jenn has lived many lives, including that of a newspaper editor, corporate cube-dweller, elementary school teacher, and world traveler. She also blogs for the Huffington Post and is a contributor to Susan Cain’s Quiet Revolution.
After reading through many of her posts, I decided this was a girl I wanted to get to know. Read on to learn more about how Jenn Granneman lives by design versus default.
Name: Jenn Granneman
Location: St. Paul, MN
Current Title: Founder of Introvert, Dear
Education: Bachelor’s in Writing from Bethel University, graduate coursework and K-8 teaching license from St. Mary’s University
What’s your story? Where did you grow up and what have been the biggest influences in your life thus far?
I grew up in a suburb of Minnesota that was tiny at the time and full of farms. When I was in 5th grade, I went to St. Paul with my parents to see a Smithsonian exhibit, and right then and there I decided I was a city girl. I wanted a little city apartment I could write in and two cats. That’s pretty much my life right now. I’ve visited some of the world’s biggest cities, but I always come back to the Twin Cities because that’s where my family and friends are.
My life was spectacularly changed when many years ago I read Dr. Marti Olsen Laney’s book, “The Introvert Advantage.” I cried because it explained so much about me. I didn’t feel like a freak anymore. I realized there were other people out there like me. I felt like I wanted to tell everyone that being an introvert is normal and okay.
What your Myers Briggs type and how long have you known it? Would you say that knowing your type has helped shape your life? If so, how?
I’ve known for several years I am an INFJ, and I had another life-changing experience when I learned about my personality type. Reading about my type, I could not believe that someone could describe me so well. It was like someone was peering into the secret recesses of my soul and finally understanding me. Knowing my personality type has helped me identify areas of growth and understand my natural strengths.
You’ve experienced multiple career paths (newspaper editor, corporate cube-dweller, elementary school teacher, and world traveler). Many people have trouble understanding how to make big life/career shifts. How did you go about making those transitions? What advice do you have for other wanting to make a major shift in their lives?
My career path has been unconventional. I was trying to find my “thing.” When you’re an INFJ, you want the work you do to matter and make a difference in people’s lives. You literally wake up every day and want to change the world. I made career transitions more out of necessity than anything else—because I wanted to find work that was fulfilling. My advice to others (which I’m still working on following myself) is a quote from the Queen of Jazz Ella Fitzgerald: “Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there’s love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.”
Tell us about Introvert, Dear. What was your inspiration to create it?
I actually started I, D as a blog that I wrote anonymously. At the time, I was dating an extrovert and living with an extroverted roommate and I thought it would be fun to write these little personal stories about what that was like. I, D just kept growing and eventually I saw it as an opportunity to do what I’d wanted to do all along, which was to let other introverts know that they are normal and not alone.
Tell us about launching Introvert, Dear? What were some of the biggest adjustments or struggles? How did you overcome them?
The biggest struggle is finding time to keep up with I, D. Right now I’m still teaching full-time (I teach 4th grade), so it can be hard to balance it all and make sure things are getting published each week and posted to social media. I think I overcome this just by working a ridiculous amount — maybe too much. But when you really care about something, you just find a way to make it work. Sleep and kitty cuddles also help. 🙂
When you really care about something, you just find a way to make it work.
What tools do you use to continue developing and growing yourself? What inspires you? How do you stay motivated?
I think I’m motivated by the idea that if I just keep at it, eventually maybe something I do will really pay off. By that I mean, maybe I really can change the world and make it a more hospitable place for introverts.
How do you live by design and not by default?
Along with pursuing my childhood dream of writing, I “design” my life in little ways. I say “no” to social events I don’t want to attend and I don’t feel guilty about it. I choose to surround myself with relationships that I truly feel comfortable in. I quietly speak my mind and do my best to protect my own needs (which is not something that comes naturally to me—I’ve been guilty of letting other people trample me).
What advice do you have for fellow introverts?
Honor who you are. If you don’t want to go to the party, then stay home and watch Netflix instead. If your job or your relationships or the environment you’re in exhausts and drains you, find little ways to protect and satisfy your own needs—or take an honest look at the situation and consider a real change. Don’t let other people—especially those who don’t understand your introversion—tell you what’s best for you. Listen to them politely, consider what they say and why they’re saying it, but make your own decision using your own brain in the end. But don’t stop there. Find ways to become the best version of yourself that you can be. Make yourself better in a tiny way every day. Do it not only to get more satisfaction out of your own life but also to help and improve the lives of the people around you. We’re all connected.
Find ways to become the best version of yourself that you can be. Make yourself better in a tiny way every day. Do it not only to get more satisfaction out of your own life but also to help and improve the lives of the people around you. We’re all connected.
What would you like extroverts of the world to know, respect, and understand?
A lot of times we pit extroverts against introverts, like we’re on two opposing teams. The reality is, we introverts often appreciate extroverts who get us moving and draw us out (when it’s done with respect to our temperament, course), while extroverts could learn from us how to slow down and reflect. What I think confuses extroverts is why we introverts don’t get the same kick out of socializing that they do. They don’t get why we want to leave the party early because hey, aren’t we all having fun? Sometimes extroverts take it personally and think we don’t like them. Extroverts, really, being alone is just how we recharge.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Keep reading, keep writing, and keep dreaming.
If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
Any one of the authors of my favorite books (Lois Lowry, Milan Kundera, or Antoine de Saint-Exupéry), so I could just bask in their greatness for an hour. I’d also love to have lunch with Dr. Marti Olsen Laney so I could thank her for her work that changed my life.
Favorite introvert activities?
Having a good conversation with just one other person and going to bed early with a book.
“There is no passion to be found playing small — in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” -Nelson Mandela
The Giver, by Lois Lowry
The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera
The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Favorite way to treat yourself and practice self-care?
Not making major plans for a weekend and feeling free to take it slow and do what I want spontaneously!
You can learn more about Jenn and her work in a few places:
Photos Provided by: Jenn Granneman