I retired 5 years ago.
I started jotting down some personal memories over the next year.
I published my memoir, In Search of Courage: An Introvert's Story in March 2020.
I felt embarrassed and unworthy immediately thereafter.
Why is that?
I don't even think I knew the phrase Impostor Syndrome in 2020, but I later found out that is exactly what I felt. I spent 30 years on the business side of the energy industry and yet less than two years after retirement, despite my own personal growth journey, I just didn't feel worthy!
I had gone to college for business, not writing. This was my first book. It took me years to write and edit it. I found there are literally millions of memoirs in the world so I immediately began to wonder why anyone would read mine. What made my journey so special?
Frankly, I also felt taken aback by the subject of introversion! That must sound odd to you as I've dedicated my website, my first two books, and over 200 blog articles in the past four years to introversion. Yet, when people asked what I was writing about, I gently mentioned "introversion" and often received a less-than-enamored response. Over the years, I've realized this should not surprise me. Extroverts are not interested in introversion. They often seem to pity and certainly misunderstand introverts. Heck, even introverts often pity and misunderstand themselves. Most are quite reticent to raise their hand and offer up their own introversion for discussion. Furthermore, publication on the week COVID shut down the world certainly limited my engagements in a world that reprioritized life overnight. With such a blasé faire reception, I became even less open to sharing my books or my journey.
New Outward Focus
Only in the last year and a half did I realize how wrong I was.
Despite having crawled deep inside my shell after my memoir was published, I quickly moved on to my second book, The Corporate Introvert. Yes, I wrote about introversion once again, but this was different. Having lived the corporate introvert life for decades, I felt I had an opportunity, if not an obligation, to give back to the hidden half and share tips and strategies to help introverts lead and succeed. And writing was beginning to feel a bit natural to me, so jumping into another project helped truncate any marketing efforts I dare consider for my first book.
The Corporate Introvert was published in October 2021 but it felt different. Perhaps because it wasn't focused on me but on others. Maybe my first book was trying to say my life was something special, but now I was advising others that they were indeed special. My purpose for the second book was more clear - to empower others to hear the call, embrace their natural strengths, and put themselves out there. It was a much more outwardly focused call this time and, as opposed to my memoir, I felt I had credibility as a 30-year veteran of corporate America who knew firsthand the struggles of introverts everywhere.
A Return to My Core
The Corporate Introvert provided me with a more important platform. And waning COVID offered me the opportunity to not only share my tips with podcast listeners but also with college and corporate audiences. Through that engagement, I realized how far I had come on my own introvert journey and how much I could help others. I received lots of positive feedback and testimonials from blog and book readers alike. I started to crawl out of my shell and begin to stand loud(ish) and proud.
I was still sheepishly mentioning my memoir when people asked what else I had written. And then, it struck me.
I could not have written The Corporate Introvert, or even my latest book, The Essential Guide for Families with Down Syndrome, without having produced my memoir. You see, my memoir provided me the opportunity to explore who I was, from childhood, through corporate life, to my writing efforts today. I recalled both funny and sad stories. I discovered the thread of introversion that had marked my life since my earliest memories. I saw how my introspective nature had affected my life and recognized that until I "accepted" my introversion, my own self would be holding me back, even in retirement. So as I researched and then wrote In Search of Courage, it was like my awakening.
Many people choose not to write their memoirs for fear of the vulnerability it requires or the impact it might have on others in their life, or they lighten it up by keeping the risque stories out of the book. However, my ever-wise first writing coach, Roger Leslie, suggested I must at least capture ALL my memories as part of the deepening journey of discovery. He offered that I could always omit sections before I published but I shouldn't stunt the exploratory process.
A Memoirst's Gift
In the end, I decided to keep it all in there. The book was not a tell-all about my family or work issues after all. It was a tell-all about me. And if I was going to finally come to terms with who I am and maximize the benefit of my memoir project, I just felt like all the stories needed to be captured and shared. So my struggles with self-esteem, my addictive personality, my drunken episodes, and my dangerous junkets all found their way into the book. And they all helped me process my life, find my often-absent self-confidence, and become an advocate for others who had similar lonely and frustrating experiences.
However, the greatest realization from my memoir was not about other people and certainly not about book sales. It was a long-delayed gift to myself. I could not have written my other books without the inward-facing, therapeutic work I did with my memoir. Now, I'm able to talk freely about my experiences, market all my books in hopes they will make a difference to others, and even promote my memoir as a vehicle for self-discovery which so many introverts in particular struggle to entertain.
Now I am proud to offer you my memoir, In Search of Courage: An Introvert's Story. It is my story. It's my most vulnerable moments. It's my personal learnings. It will make you laugh, shudder, and perhaps cry. I hope you will feel less alone and maybe more open to discovering your true self - warts and all!
A few years ago I would barely mention my memoir. Now I know it was the most important building block to who I am today as a husband, father, person, and writer.
It was my greatest gift!
Perhaps you are ready to write your own memoir, or at least begin to journal your inner thoughts. It may not be easy, but it may be the most important journey of your life!
My award-winning book, In Search of Courage: An Introvert's Story, is my most vulnerable book, sharing personal struggles and triumphs that provide comfort and inspiration to fellow introverts.
"You are not alone!"
"Wallflowers of the world will rejoice upon reading Steve Friedman's account of his journey."
"In Search of Courage: An Introvert’s Story, is a well-needed book that really goes into depth about being introverted, the feelings involved, and how society views and treats introverts. The stories in this book go from heart-wrenching to heartwarming.
"As an introvert myself, I can certainly relate. I cannot imagine how scary it must have been for the author to share so much of himself with the world but I think the fact that he has, proves that he has found the courage that he was in search of. Perhaps this book will help others to do the same!"