My work has always been tied to my personal life. I can’t help but create things about what I know. I’m really bad at faking anything, so I guess it’s natural that I can’t even make art that’s not intertwined with the emotions and experiences of my life.
If you happen to know me personally, then it’ll be old news to hear that I, myself, am an introvert, which is ultimately where the idea for this book came from. If you don’t know me personally, I’m sure you had an inkling. Throughout my whole life, I think I’ve always been labeled as “quiet” and “reserved.” When I was a kid, it was every teacher’s project to pull me out of my shell, as if there was a better version of me just waiting to be freed. I was sometimes ashamed for not being outgoing and found myself wishing I was more like other people. One of the major blessings of getting older I think is gloriously caring less about what other people think and learning how to embrace (and like) who you are. It was a combination of that as well as discovering the term “introvert” a decade or so ago that allowed me to be proud of that part of myself. I don’t remember where or when exactly I learned about what an introvert was, it just sort of became more of a common, talked about thing in society over time I guess. I learned that it was a personality type, not something that was wrong with me. I feel like I am an introvert by definition, a classic textbook example of one. It was a nice feeling to realize I was in good company because so many other people were introverts too.
I’m so proud of being an introvert today. I love that I can admit that I extremely enjoy when social plans get cancelled and there are plenty of people would not think I’m crazy. Yay for texting over calling! Yay for that blissful feeling when you have the whole weekend ahead of you and there are zero plans! Yay for bonding more with pets at parties! It’s perfectly normal and it’s perfectly okay.
A few years ago, a friend and I were chatting about the struggle of getting out of certain social situations as such introverted/awkward people. Like for example how we both had spent money on things we didn’t want just so we could leave shops with chatty employees. I was so comforted again to hear that I wasn’t alone, that it wasn’t just me being weird. It later sparked the idea to create a book about all the ways my introverted friends and I have or have wanted to exit social situations. The Escape Manual for Introverts would be a guide to navigate all those tricky situations we get cornered in, like karaoke invitations (um, this is my nightmare), schmoozy networking events for work, motormouth seatmates on airplanes, and so on. Avoiding people is one of my secret favorite pastimes (okay maybe not so secret anymore) and I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed getting to make a book about it! It’s my humorous interpretation of what the introvert experience is like. A cheeky nod to all my fellow introverts out there, if you will.
Below are some images from the beginning stages of this book. I began with sketching out the flow of the book and decided on dividing the book into categories of familiarity with a set of scenarios for each one.