Episode 52: Busting Myths About Introverts

Meetup group organizer Brenda Bea discusses the secret power introverts possess on the Keep Connected podcast.

Episode 52: Busting Myths about Introverts

Brenda Bea grew up being described as “shy” and “quiet.” In her adult life, she’s owned her identity as an introvert and helped many other women do the same as an organizer of Introverted Girlfriends of Dallas & Surrounding Cities. This Introverted Girlfriends Meetup group is just one of fourteen chapters around the United States. David sits down with Brenda to discuss her mission to inspire and educate introverted women by giving them the tools to be confident, take charge of their lives, and put themselves out there. Conversation topics include the beauty and necessity of introverted people, how to admit when there’s room for improvement as a leader, why bigger isn’t always better as an event planner, and more.


Show Notes

Welcome to the show. In this episode, we are talking to Brenda Bea, the Dallas City leader of the Introverted Girlfriends Meetup group. After reading this episode, you will want to be a part of Introverted Girlfriends. I know that I want to be a part of Introverted Girlfriends somehow. Enjoy reading.

Brenda Bea, welcome to the show.

Thank you for having me.

I am so blown away by the impact that you have had with your Meetup group, Introverted Girlfriends. You’re growing this group into fourteen different chapters. You’re helping thousands of female introverts around the US and potentially around the globe. I want to upfront thank you for all that you do to help people build friendships and connections. You don’t even realize the impact that you’re having.

Thank you.

Before we start, it’s important to not just talk about “being introverted” as a negative. There are some beautiful positives to being introverted as well, and there are some challenges to being introverted. As someone who has been an introvert, there are some great positives to it as well. I have some thoughts on it, but I’d love to hear your thoughts first. What do you think are some of the reasons and ways in which people who are introverted can bring so much to the world? I’d love to hear about that because you have surrounded yourself with hundreds of introverted women as part of your Meetup group. Let’s talk about the positives first.

I feel like I’ve been introverted my entire life even if I didn’t put a label on it until my adulthood. I feel like we’re great listeners. We’re not in competition with you when it comes to talking. We’re generally not interrupting. We want to fully process what you’re saying, so we’re listening intently and trying to understand. Sometimes, that means we have greater insight when we do respond. I’ve met a lot of strangers that have shared with me things that you don’t necessarily share when you’re first meeting people. It’s because I am so eager to listen more so than talk.

We’re also great observers. We like to check out the scene before we emerge ourselves. We tend to notice things that others may not notice. We pay attention to body language and facial expressions. I believe that we make out to be quality friends as long as you’re okay with checking in on us from time to time since we’re drained by social interactions even if we enjoy those interactions. We’re more careful about whom we let into our circles, but once you’re in that circle, we’re loyal, attentive, and committed to those relationships.

It seems like the depth of the relationship is oftentimes so much richer.

As introverts, we still like people, but maybe not as much as extroverts or maybe differently. We like people in small quantities. When you talk about quality, there is greater quality because that circle might be smaller than others.

The other thing I was going to say about many of my introverted friends, which you said well, is about being present. Let’s take the extreme of an extrovert. Let’s say someone with ADD. You’re jumping around from one thing to another. It’s very hard to be fully present in a conversation. Even talking to you, I feel like you’re fully here. It’s so meaningful and enjoyable because so many people in this world are not able to be fully present. That’s another benefit of being an introvert.

There are a lot of misunderstandings. One common misconception is that introverts don’t like people. It’s not true. It’s that there’s more of a fear of meeting new people. It’s draining to meet those new people for an introvert. Once you know a person, spending time with someone you love, know, and care for is not something that’s necessarily an aversion for an introvert. Are there any other myths in your mind and misconceptions that people may have about introverts that maybe you could dispel or share?

One that comes to mind is that introverts are shy.

This is a great one. Keep going. It’s important.

In certain situations, I am shy because I’m checking out the scene, I’m listening, or I’m trying to get to know you. It may be that there are so many people around and I’m trying to see where I can fit in. There are certain situations where I am shy. When people call me shy or quiet, I know that means that they haven’t gotten the chance to get to know me or I haven’t allowed them that opportunity.

If you know me or you’re friends with me, shy will never come on your list to describe me. I don’t have a problem with talking, especially when it’s something that I’m passionate about. If we’re talking about introversion, the football game on Sunday, music, finance, or budgeting, I can talk about those things all day long. Introverts being shy is one myth that’s not necessarily true. It depends on the situation.

Introverts are not necessarily shy. It just depends on the situation.

It may be harder to get to know the real you than someone who wears themselves under their sleeve and shares to anyone the most personal things with before they even get to know them. Once you get to know the real you, you see who the real you is. The real you is not necessarily a shy person. One of the best definitions is oftentimes where people get their energy from in terms of extroversion versus introversion. Let’s talk about you a little bit. Were you quiet as a kid? Were you more outgoing? When did it become so top of mind that you were an introvert? Did that have a challenge for you from a personal life perspective and from a work perspective? Maybe share that, too.

I’ve always known that I was different from other people around me. I did grow up as an only child, so I am used to being alone. I learned how to enjoy being alone, being by myself, and doing things by myself. When I was growing up, I remember someone saying something probably about me being quiet. There was a good family friend that was nearby that overheard it.

He was like, “She may not be a talker, but believe me. If she has something to say, you will know it.” It sounds so simple, but I’ve always remembered that as I’ve gone through life because I feel like it perfectly describes me. I don’t always have to be talking, but if I have something to say, in more cases than not, you’re going to know it.

I wish there were more people like you. Keep going.

We need our introverts, extroverts, and the people in between. We need that balance. That’s what makes this the world that we live in. I probably had heard about introverts and extroverts. Before coming across the group, I didn’t research it. I didn’t look into it. It has posed some challenges in my life. My first job out of college is a whole other story, but I was put on a performance plan.

Why do you think?

When you mess up during that time, you can be fired on the spot.

Was it because you were more introverted that you got put on a performance plan?

Yeah. It was because of my introverted nature, not wanting to ask questions, not being engaged in the meetings, and maybe because I didn’t relate to what I was doing. I’ve used that experience to help me grow. I did make it out of the performance plan.

Many people don’t. That’s great.

I didn’t get fired or anything like that. I used that for the next job that I had in my career path. I’ve used those lessons to help where I am. I’m confident in my introversion. It doesn’t bother me when people say that I’m quiet. Compared to extroverts, there are some things that take more effort, like being on a show or speaking in front of others. I can do those things well, but it does take more effort. It’s learning how to live with being an introvert and navigating the world because maybe it’s not necessarily built for us.

For extroverts, certain things take a lot of effort, too. That means not interrupting takes effort. Most people are terrible at that. It takes effort to be fully in the conversation, not giving your opinion immediately around things. Reading long books, staying in the same place for a longer period of time, and all those things do take effort. Both sides take efforts.

The challenge is that the world as we know it does tend to reward extroverts more than introverts for a variety of reasons that are not altogether good ones. Superficial relationships could end up being the basis for why people are promoted or why people are hired. Oftentimes, in an interview, an extrovert will have a leg up in that interview because they’re more outgoing and perhaps easier to connect with initially. You only have 30 minutes to connect, so it doesn’t give you much time. That’s unfortunate.

We should make an effort in this world to find ways of giving everyone an equal opportunity as possible than the way the interviews are conducted or the way oftentimes decisions are made. We have our work cut out for us in terms of leveling the playing field. Let’s talk about your Meetup journey. You started off as a member and became an organizer. You lead across fourteen different channels of the Introverted Girlfriends network. Walk us through the history there of how it started, why it started, why you took on more, and why you took on even more. Let’s hear it.

I’ll take you back. I first found out about Meetup probably around 2012. That was several years ago. There were two different friends that told me about the group.

Is this in Dallas?

No, I was living in Chicago at the time. I’ve moved around a lot since graduating high school. Chicago was the first city that I lived in. I didn’t have many close friends or any family that lived in town. I was having to build my social network from ground zero. I joined Meetup and I find a social group for Black professionals. It was a great group. I love playing games, like board games, card games, or any type of game. They had a monthly game event that I would attend. Those events were a little overwhelming. I may be exaggerating, but I felt like it was over 50 people.

KCM 52 | Myths About Introverts
Myths About Introverts: Introverts have to put more effort into building their social network.

It probably could be very loud in a relatively small room. Lots of people are yelling and screaming about their Settlers of Catan game or what other game they’re playing.

Since I was introverted, I changed my approach. I would get there close to when they started so I could pick the group that I wanted to gravitate toward and I could stick with that group during the event. It was sometimes playing poker or playing spades because you were playing with smaller groups of people. I remember attending a book club discussion with this same group. It was at someone’s house. I feel like it was over twenty or so people. I may be exaggerating, but it felt like that. I’m sitting there and we’re discussing the book, and I am out of my element. I’m not comfortable at all, so I’m not saying anything. I’m just enjoying the conversation.

You were enjoying. That’s the difference. For many people, if they’re not saying something, they can’t be enjoying themselves. It’s interesting. You were legitimately enjoying it even though you weren’t participating. That, to me, is another “benefit” of being more introverted that you could derive satisfaction and enjoyment without having to be, in any way, “the life of the party.” Please, keep going.

The host notices that I’m not saying anything. I don’t count this against him. I have nothing against him. At some point, he calls me out and says, “You haven’t said much. Would you like to share anything?”

That’s scary. That’s the worst nightmare.

That is an introvert’s nightmare. I’m like, “Don’t call me out. If I have something to say, believe me, I will say it. Don’t call me out in front of everyone and point. I’m sure everyone knows that I’ve not said anything, but since you’ve pointed it out, you’ve made it six times worse.” That was the experience. It was a great group.

I then moved to Dallas. I was living in Dallas for a year. I said, “I can’t do the same thing that I did in Chicago. I have to put more effort into building my social network.” I have friends, but not very many live here in the same city that I can call in, go out to the movies, or go out to the park. I was back on Meetup. I’m searching the different groups and I come across Introverted Girlfriends. I’m reading the About Us or the description, and I’m like, “This is me.” I go ahead and join. I’m not sure if this was on purpose. I’m not sure if it was in their welcome message. I don’t know, but it felt like as soon as I joined, I got an email saying that they needed event organizers. I’m like, “I love planning events.”

You hadn’t even gone to an event and they’re already asking you to be an organizer?

Yes. I go ahead and go through with it. I’m like, “If I’m going to get out of the house, this is going to be that extra oomph that I need to get out of the house because if I planned the event, I have to go.”

I would say that’s a good forcing mechanism.

I become an event organizer. I still remember my first event. It was a brunch. It was probably 6 or 7 of us.

It’s a great number.

I can picture us in the restaurant and where we were in the restaurant. I remember waiting at the door and waiting for people. I remember one lady who was nervous. She was almost shaking nervous. It was such a relief. As we started talking, these people had stories that I had. They were like, “I almost didn’t come, but I’m so glad I came out.”

Think about probably the 10 or 15 other people who almost didn’t come, and they didn’t come and stayed back. It’s great that someone could get the number of the people that did come. It sounds like it was a great event. What happened then?

I felt like I found my home. I felt like I found where I belonged. I became a city leader very soon after.

What events have you had in the group?

I have had brunches, escape rooms, and spa days. We’ve been to concerts. I’ve been to Jill Scott. I’ve been to comedy shows, like Katt Williams. I’ve hosted anything that I enjoy doing and I wouldn’t mind other people joining along with me.

You said that’s not enough. How did one group somehow spawn fourteen different Introverted Girlfriend groups in fourteen different cities around the US? What happened there? Was this intentional or accidental?

I wish I could take all the credit. I wish this were my idea, but it’s not. Introverted Girlfriends was founded in 2014 by Janaya Sadler. She started the first chapter in Charlotte, North Carolina. Her story was similar to mine when she moved to Charlotte from New York. She didn’t have very many friends or family in Charlotte. She was attending different Meetup events and wasn’t getting the connections that she desired.

She formally started in 2014. She then connected with Sophia White in 2016. They formally decided to have Introverted Girlfriends as a business. They were like, “We don’t need this just in Charlotte. We need this in Raleigh, North Carolina. We need this group in Atlanta, Georgia.” When I came on as a partner in 2019, there were probably already about 7 or 8 Meetup chapters. Since then, we’ve grown to fourteen. My goal for 2023 is hopefully, we’ll be able to grow to twenty different chapters.

Tell me about what works well and what doesn’t work well when trying to coordinate with other chapters. What advice would you give to organizers that have sister or brother groups in other cities? What are some of the dos and don’ts around that?

You need to engage with your team on a consistent basis. I live outside of Dallas, Texas. That’s only one chapter. We have fourteen different chapters. I’m not traveling to these different cities. We have a city leader that is responsible for managing the entire chapter. We have event organizers that are hosting events in their chapters. My role is training those people as they’re applying, and they want to be more involved with the group.

I’ve had a lot of things happen during my path with Introverted Girlfriends. I became a mother. I have a two-year-old son. There were some times when the communication fell through. We’re supposed to have meetings every 2 to 3 months to say, “This is what’s going on with Meetup. This is what’s going on with all of the chapters. These are good events to maybe look into.” I dropped the ball with that. I could see that the numbers were going down not only because of that but also COVID.

When you’re dealing with multiple or several chapters, I’d say it is communication and making sure that you are engaging with those people that are doing the work there. It’s keeping your Meetup chapters going and making sure that you are supporting them. It’s asking them, “What tools do you need? What resources do you need? I’m here for you.” You’re encouraging them. When they post pictures, I’m commenting on the pictures, “This looks like so much fun. Thank you for hosting.”

It’s being a cheerleader and a supporter and also sharing to then some best practices. I love the mission of the network which says, “To inspire and educate introvert women by giving them the tools to become more confident, take charge of their lives, and put themselves out there.” Talk about that mission a little bit.

We want to provide a safe space for introverts. We want to provide whatever you need so that you can embrace who you are. Maybe that’s a funny meme. Maybe that’s a webinar on assertive communication. Maybe that’s the Facebook group. Maybe that’s the Meetup chapter. We know it’s difficult to get out of the house. We enjoy our alone time. We enjoy being on the sofa doing nothing, but we know that it’s not healthy to be alone all the time. We want to provide that outlet. Everyone that we work with, our city leaders and event organizers are all iintroverted It’s a community that we are building so that you can be the best person you can be.

You’ve met so many women and have influenced so many women. Is there a story about one of the women that you’ve met or a couple of women that you’ve met in your chapter or any other chapters that would also be helpful for our audience? If so, we would certainly love to hear anything.

We had a member that posted the following. She said, “The ladies in this group provide support even when you have no idea that you’re doing it. I had networking at a work event at an MLB baseball game. It was me and about 40 predominantly males of a different age group.” She was asked by her company president to mix and mingle and talk about the firm. She says, “When I tell you those men were not the least bit interested in what I had to say, and I was the least bit interested in making small talk,” because introverts hate small talk and random questions.

You want to have meaningful conversations.

She was like, “I hated it, but I thought of you in this group. The support, encouragement, and even the funny memes that we share about other introverts in these settings got me through. I lasted until the seventh-inning stretch, and then I made a beeline to my car.”

That’s when it’s socially acceptable to leave. The seventh-inning stretch is a stretch and you can walk out after the stretch. That’s great. It sounds like the group supported her in helping her to feel comfortable being the person that she is and learn techniques for how to do things that may come less naturally certainly in that situation.

Speaking of that, let’s talk about best practices. In terms of being an organizer, welcoming new members, and structuring events, there are certain things that I’ve read about that you do that a lot of organizers could learn from. Most organizers think, for example, “Bigger is better. 1,000 people is better than 10 people,” or whatever, but not necessarily from an experience standpoint. In fact, our ratings and reviews are usually better for Meetup experiences that are smaller in nature because people could build bonding experiences than ones with many people. Share any best practices as an organizer of things that you do.

We do have a formal application and training process. We have a manual with guidelines for our event organizers. For the most part, our most important guideline is that we want you to limit your Meetup event to twelve people or fewer.

That is so important.

Our audience is introverts. They prefer smaller groups. They prefer intimate settings. If the group is too big, they’re not going to be comfortable. They’re less likely to attend.

You create a wait list, is that right? You’ll then see if people are on the waitlist.

Yes. Sometimes, that RSVP list gets full very quickly because we do limit it to twelve people. Honestly, we allow our event organizers, depending on the event or the venue, that they can limit it to as low as four people. When you do that and you have a group with 100 or over 200 people, the list can get full rather quickly. That waitlist is there and we encourage our members, “Please, if you want to attend the event, join the waitlist.” This is Meetup and people are known to drop out at the last minute. Not only is this Meetup, but we are dealing with introverts. It takes a lot of effort to get out. We’re socializing with strangers.

KCM 52 | Myths About Introverts
Myths About Introverts: That RSVP list gets full quickly because Introverted Girlfriends Meetup limits it to 12, or as low as four people.

I feel like Meetup is a great concept. You’re getting together with people that share similar interests, values, or traits. It’s weird because you’re getting together with people you’ve never met. It’s awesome, but it also has that quirk about it. Sometimes, introverts stick it out and attend the event. Personally, I’ve had lots of events where I didn’t feel like going. I’ve never regretted it once I got there. We stick it out, but sometimes, we have our index of reasons why we can’t attend. We go through this list and we’re like, “What can I apply?” It’s like, “It’s raining outside. It’s going to be cold tonight.”

That’s a perfect excuse.

I’d be like, “This is the one that I’m going with. This is why I can’t attend.” That’s a part of our nature. That’s a part of who we are. If you want to go, join the waitlist because most likely, a spot is going to open up for you. I’m telling my organizers, “Plan something that you like to do. Plan something that you’re going to do anyway. Plan something that you can enjoy by yourself because there may be some no-shows. Please, do not take the no-shows personally.”

That is great advice. People harp on the no-shows. You can invite, let’s say, fifteen people. Fifteen people are supposed to show up. Ten show up and five don’t. All you’re thinking about is the five people that didn’t. You have no focus on the ten people that did.

Focus on the people that show up. It’s hard to do. You put a lot of work into planning the event, finding the venue, and providing the details. It’s hard, but I try to constantly remind them, “Please, do not take the no-shows personally.” It still happens to me who’s been an event organizer at least for five years. I get a little down for a minute, but then I snap out of it. I focus on the bigger picture.

It’s inevitable. I wrote a book and I had a book party. I remember at the book party, I was thinking to myself, “Where are all the people that were supposed to be here? Why are they not here? What’s going on here?” As opposed to celebrating and enjoying myself with the 50 or 60 people that showed up, I was like, “How come XYZ person didn’t show up?”

I was like, “Snap out of it. Be present. Enjoy yourself.” Even extroverts and confident people could certainly think those things. One of the things I also read is that you created a twelve-week girl scribe journal to motivate or help people with communication and connection. Give a brief description of what you created and a brief synopsis of some of the learnings. You can say not necessarily all twelve, but a few of them.

It is the Girl Tribe Journal. It is a twelve-week guide to creating and maintaining friendships. It’s specifically created for introverted women. Every time we do a survey or ask our audience, “What are you struggling with? What resources would you like us to offer? What areas can we help you in?” it always comes back to friends. We know it’s difficult to maintain friends and make friends as an introvert, especially as an adult. Everybody has so much going on in their lives.

KCM 52 | Myths About Introverts
The Girl Tribe Journal: 12-Week Guide to Creating and Maintaining Friendships for Introverted Women

As an introvert, it is making that effort to get out of the house. Sometimes, it does take us longer to warm up to people. As wonderful as Meetup is, if you’re not seeing the same people at each event, that may also be a hindrance to building the foundation that you need for friendships. That’s where the Girl Tribe Journal comes in. We published it this past June 2022.

Can someone buy it? How do they get it? Can they email you? How do you someone get a copy of the Girl Tribe Journal?

It is available on Amazon. You can probably search Girl Tribe Journal. Hopefully, it comes up.

I’m going to support it. I’m going to get myself a copy. Thank you.

Each week has a different theme. It includes a journal prompt because we love self-reflection. We love writing. It also includes an affirmation for that week because we want to visualize the positive changes. Most importantly, it includes a goal-oriented activity that should take you fifteen minutes or less. That activity is going to help you maintain those friendships that you have or build the connections that you need.

The Girl Tribe Journal includes a goal-oriented activity that will help you maintain your friendships or build the connections you need.

It is about getting out there and taking action as opposed to reading or writing. They’re both very important. Journaling is extremely valuable, but it is going out and taking action.

You should be able to do it in fifteen minutes or less. Some weeks are like, “Send a text.” It is checking in on a friend and seeing how they are. Maybe one week is celebrating a friend if they have a birthday or if they have a recent promotion or a recent milestone. It’s not just celebrating them through text because anybody can text, but maybe sending flowers or a thoughtful gift. Another week is setting up a date to meet in person. You got to get out of the house and see each other in person. Another week is to return any unanswered calls, texts, or messages. As introverts, we’re big on energy. We have to have the right energy in order to engage. Sometimes, that means text.

Other people could bring you down. You’re like, “Maybe if I disregard this, it’ll go away,” but it never goes away. It sits there.

We leave the text there. We leave the direct message there. We leave the voicemail there. If you want to build a friendship or you want to maintain that friendship, every now and then, you need to respond.

That is well said. It is amazing. This is so therapeutic, frankly. My understanding is that therapists recommend your group, Introverted Girlfriends, in many different cities. It is a testament to the emotional health that your group and the communities that you built and that is part of the Introverted Girlfriends’ Meetup group engender. I wanted to thank you. We are at the time where I’m going to hit you with a couple of Rapid-fire questions. I’ll ask a quick question and I need a super quick answer. Here we go. When was the first time you saw yourself as a leader?

I scheduled a group trip. It was probably around fifteen of us. It was co-ed. It was when I lived in Minnesota. That was the first time I saw myself as a leader being able to plan that entire trip.

When was this? Were you in your early 20s or mid-20s?

I was in my early twenties. I was probably 23 or 24. I planned a trip from Minneapolis to Duluth, Minnesota. It’s probably a 3-hour or 4-hour drive. I’m not sure.

Hopefully, that felt good. It got you ready to become a Meetup leader. I love it.

I also got good at planning events.

If you could access a time machine and go anywhere in the world at any time, when or where are you going?

New York during the Harlem Renaissance. I love movies that are set in older periods. Sometimes, I wish that I had lived through some of those eras because they were so rich in culture, music, community, and dance.

You are hopefully and probably staying right near the Apollo Theater where so much music, dance, and history during that time happened. It was a beacon of artists and energy at that time. Name one thing on your bucket list.

Leading a webinar on finances.

Many people want to hike Mount Kilimanjaro. They want to travel around the world. They want to make $1 billion. What I love about your bucket list is that item is about helping other people. That’s beautiful.

Now that you say it, it sounds boring.

It’s not. It’s so nice because so many people’s bucket list items are for themselves. Yours is to help other people. That speaks volumes about who you are as a person and how you devote your time and energy to helping as many different people as possible. The last question is you’ve done so much, and there is so much more to come, what do you most want to be remembered by?

It is being kind and showing love, and helping others however I can with what I have. I’ve been extremely blessed. In Introverted Girlfriends, in the ownership team, we all have our full-time jobs or our full-time businesses. This is just something we do on the side that takes a lot of time and a lot of effort, but it’s our passion. It’s because I remember my experiences in other groups. I remember feeling like I was different and that I didn’t belong. It is being kind and helping others along the way embrace who they are.

Be kind and help others along the way embrace who they are.

As a mother of a young child, you are setting such an incredible example. Your child’s so lucky to have you. Meetup is so lucky to have you. The many people that you touched and that you helped are so lucky to have you. Thank you for everything that you do. Thank you for being part of the show.

Thank you for the opportunity. Meetup has played a very special part in my life. I’m grateful for this platform. I have not seen any other platforms like Meetup and what they offer. Thank you again for this opportunity.

Thanks for tuning in to the show. Introverts do like people. Introverts are not necessarily shy. There are so many unfortunate, incorrect stereotypes about introverts. Brenda helped us to be educated around them. She sets the paradigm example of what an organizer can be. We’re so lucky to have her. One of my favorite things that she said was that she found where she belongs. That is the goal of Meetup. If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe and leave a review. Check out my new book, Decide and Conquer. Remember, let’s keep connected because life is better together.


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Last modified on January 10, 2023