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Thriving As An Introvert: Linda Marie Furiate on How Introverts Can Thrive & Succeed

This Interview was originally published in #AuthorityMagazine November 2023.

"An introvert needs to know that their experience and life skills matter to others. The extrovert may be the person to initiate an idea or project, however it is often the introvert who will carry out the mission to completion. An introvert may thrive with the belief that every responsibility or task is of importance". Linda Furiate

Ina world that often rewards outspokenness and social networking, introverts can sometimes feel sidelined or overlooked. The workplace, educational institutions, and even social settings can often seem engineered to suit the strengths of extroverts, leaving introverts searching for a space to flourish.

However, introversion comes with its own set of unique strengths — deep thinking, the ability to focus, empathy, and keen observational skills — that are invaluable but often underestimated. The question then becomes: how can introverts not only survive but also thrive and succeed in environments that seem skewed towards extroversion? In this interview series, we are talking to introverts, business leaders, psychologists, authors, career coaches, organizational leaders, and other experts in the field who can talk about “How Introverts Can Thrive & Succeed In A Society That Seems To Favor Extroverts”. As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Linda Marie Furiate.

Linda Marie Furiate is a Mentor and Advocate for people who seek insight and clarity into their world. Linda Marie’s career stems from a background of being in service to others, with a desire to offer encouragement to those who need her help. She is a warrior, a mother, an astrologer, a personal guide and mainly a source of emotional comfort.

Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us your “Origin Story”? Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I was born in Frankfurt, Germany to an American soldier. My father was a career Army man back in the day when the emerging Elvis Presley was chosen to serve for the USA. My father shared time with Elvis on many occasions, on base, and in the motor pool where they worked on tanks and other combat vehicles. His influence and presence left an amazing impression on my dad. Having met with ‘royalty’ my father understood and respected the honor of personally knowing such a grandiose celebrity and humble human being. Elvis’ stint in the military was a time of compassion for his fellow soldier and a gift to humanity as he showed the world that wealth and fame were no substitute for humility, respect, and hard work.

My mother was a woman of great faith, she instilled in her children the value of doing the right thing and to always serve those in need. My mom’s devotion to selflessly give of herself was a quality I wanted to emulate. I learned that by doing for others, it would afford me with an inner joy that could not be diminished no matter how harsh or heartbreaking the world may appear.

My parents divorced when I was about twelve years of age. Although divorce is never easy on anyone, my young self was thankful that my parents were no longer casting shame toward one another as each of them viewed their needs from a totally different perspective. When my father moved out of the family home, I no longer had to hear the screams and cries as I lay awake at night, just praying my mom would be okay. My mother hid her pain well, which I always assumed, or mistook, to be an immense inner strength. I truly adored both of my parents for the values and life philosophies they instilled in me, even though they were opposites in personality. Their differences allowed me to witness the world from a wide angle.

I was quiet as a child and found it challenging to talk to my parents about my needs and desires. When I did express my thoughts or feelings about what I wanted, my mother would often say ‘oh, you don’t want that’. I may have playfully wanted to show off my dance moves or asked for a candy bar - my need to express myself was often rejected. Over the years growing up I learned to deny every dream I thought I ever wanted. I felt unheard. I felt confused. I wondered if I were truly that selfish to believe I deserved something I thought I wanted or needed.

From around the age of eight or nine, I first realized I had trouble reading the blackboard at school. My sight was blurry as I was unable to clearly see the homework assignments or other lessons the teacher had written on the board. When out playing with my friends I often held myself back from participating because I could not navigate the area or understand how something worked because of my lack of vision. My grades were average, at best, as I struggled to see what the teacher was doing. I began to think I had a learning inability, or I was just dumb. I could not keep up academically with my peers.

I would express my lack of vision to my mom, and I all ever heard was ‘you don’t want to wear glasses’. She herself wore them and I guess it wasn’t something she necessarily liked - she didn’t want me to endure that same dislike. It wasn’t until the age of 16 when I had to take a vision test to get my driver’s license permit that she finally acknowledged, when told by the eye doctor who examined me, that I was considered almost legally blind. I was shocked, yet thankful for a confirmed diagnosis. My vision was restored to 20/20 when I first put on my prescribed, rose-colored glass. At that moment the world opened in a way that allowed me to gain the confidence I needed. My grades immediately improved. I graduated from high school with nearly a 4.0 grade point average. I felt more confident hanging out with my friends as I could now see what they were doing.

As a young person who was not encouraged to speak up, and along with limited sight, my focus was often inward. I was the quiet, middle child. I would watch my sister have all the privileges of being the oldest and my brother was often coddled for being the ‘baby’ of the family. I felt overlooked, I felt my mother assumed I did not have emotional needs because I was often there, by her side, to support her needs.

In those early years, I learned to walk through the world from a sensory perspective. Because I was so quiet, I would keep to myself. My favorite place was the sanctuary of my own bedroom. I would try to sense the environment around me before walking out of my room, wanting to make sure that it was okay for me to be seen. When I would come out of my room, I was typically the one who cleaned the house, made dinner, and did the laundry while my siblings were out with their friends. I wanted to help my mother who had to work long and hard hours as a single mom, plus it was my way of seeking her approval. She often said I was her only child that did not give her any troubles. Today I understand that as being too afraid or shy to get into trouble. Good kids tend to be introverted. Whereas children who pushed the envelope and had their parents on pins and needles often grow up to feel as though they can conquer the outside world.

My friends would come to me for advice, potentially with the belief that I would know what to say or do. I believe they trusted me, as they would pour out their heart and soul. I had an innate ability to feel and sense the emotions of others, whether they were in the room with me or countless miles away. I felt blessed that I rarely encountered their kind of pain, or situations, yet I deeply knew and emotionally felt what they were feeling. Being there for my friends helped to validate my desire to feel accepted.

I am a firm believer that each of us comes into our life to learn certain lessons. As such, we are blessed to experience situations that often force us to learn. If we resist the lesson, we learn the hard way and life appears to be a challenge. If we embrace the occasion for what it is, we are often rewarded with great strength and wisdom.

Can you tell us a bit about what you do professionally, and what brought you to this specific career path?

My career path has been eclectic, although a common theme abounds, which is to communicate with my heart and to be there for others. At a young age, like my father, I too joined the ranks of the military. I enlisted in the Air Force at the age of seventeen. My intention was to gain an education and to explore the world. I was fortunate to academically qualify for a path in military intelligence which exposed me to high-ranking officials within the Department of Defense. Shortly after enlistment I found myself living in Japan, thousands of miles away from home. Being in Japan was like living in heaven. The universe called me to a place that gave me a voice and allowed me to be seen. Although I did not quite grasp the Japanese language, Japan became a place where I could speak through my heart. The exchange of a smile between cultures runs deep in the soul - as a smile conveys a universal message that connects the heart and extends a sense of trust.

While on base in Japan, I had my military peers and being one of only a few female airmen, I gained a lot of attention and had a tremendous amount of fun. This was the first time, and maybe only time in my life, I had a taste of what an extrovert may feel like. I felt like I was seen and heard for the first time in my life. People wanted me in the room, and I was even asked to be the lead singer for a band a few airmen started. Being an introvert, I turned down the proposal. I was thankful to be surrounded by the right people who brought out the best in me.

When I moved stateside with the military, I met a civilian man, got married, departed the Air Force, and then had his child. Early in the marriage the relationship became abusive as my husband could not decide what woman he wanted to be with. His lack of knowing what he wanted compelled him to project all his self-hatred and fears onto me. If I stayed in the marriage, with the attempt to save our family, he was violent. When I chose to leave the abusive home, he became more enraged. I stood my ground to stay away, plus I had no choice since it was my ex who felt he was the only one entitled to decide our fate through abuse and gaslighting. My son was only three years old when we separated homes. What followed was years of a long custody battle. As an introvert I did not have it in me to stand up to the war he wanted to fight, yet I took every measure to see my only child. The heartache of my ex-husband destroying my relationship with my young child, by continuously violating the legal custody agreement, eventually took a toll on my well-being. During the happier moments in our marriage, I became quite successful in a career in financial sales, where I received national attention for my work. Over time, the abuse I received from my husband impacted my confidence, which had an emotional effect on my desire to sell.

When my son was 10 years old, I was driving to an appointment to offer help to a homeless shelter, when I accidentally crashed my car into another vehicle that was coming at me, as they were confusingly turned about, on a wet paved road in the middle of a construction zone. I was about to approach the speed limit, I slowed down, but there was nowhere for me to move to get out of harm’s way. At the moment of impact, I pumped my fist on the gear shift, miffed that I just destroyed my car to no fault of my own. I walked away from the scene, supposedly unharmed.

Within days or weeks of the accident my head began to turn to the right, violently and uncontrollably. My neck muscles were in severe spasm, it felt as though I had a bag of puppies jumping around in a thousand directions. I felt possessed as if some outer force entered my being coercing my body to twist and turn and move in ways that were not humanly comfortable. As the weeks and months progressed, I found that the twisting of my head and neck made it impossible for me to eat solid food in fear of swallowing difficulties. I often had to lie on the floor to eat because it was the only way I could attempt to get my neck and body straight. With my head being yanked and pulled it was challenging to walk straight and to balance myself, walking into walls and falling off the sidewalk became the norm – I felt like a drunken sailor, only now the spirit consumed was my own. Dressing myself, showering, even brushing my teeth was a struggle when I could not hold my head still long enough to make the right mechanical movement to do these simple tasks. My neck and shoulder muscles were at war with each other, the constant moving and twisting of my upper body was endless and painful. I would twist myself right out of a chair while sitting. I soon thought of myself as physically hideous, I began to isolate and withdraw due to the shame and embarrassment of the involuntary movement.

I was given the diagnosis of cervical dystonia, a neurological movement disorder that had no cure.

Right before the accident I decided to take an acting class. I was not necessarily the theater type, I felt as though these classes might provide me with an avenue to be heard and to work through the quieter side of myself. It was a fun experience which led me to working as an extra in two major motion films. In one of the movies that was directed by Robert Redford, in one brief scene, I am the only person in a close-up shot as witnessed on the big screen – this became my ‘split second of fame’. This would also be the last time I would see myself on camera with a ‘normal’ body. When the movie first came out, I received a lot of positive attention from my friends. I felt like the social butterfly that many admired and wanted to engage in my presence.

Before I developed cervical dystonia (CD), I was in the process of rebuilding a career in marketing following my divorce. After developing CD, all my work and networking opportunities came to a halt. My focus, 24/7, was to re-learn how to sit up in a chair and to comfortably feed myself. My body was in constant movement for which I had no control. I was exhausted both physically and mentally. Healing from the severe muscle spasms and head twisting became my fulltime job. I was no longer the social butterfly – I felt like just a fly that the world wanted to swat away, with people too ashamed to look at me or to accept my new reality.

Along my path I was introduced to Astrology. Initially I was curious to know how this ancient symbolic language worked and to see how it may apply to me. The more I learned the more I became intrigued with the personality and what drives our motivations. Many people feel astrology to be something made up or is a forecasting tool which is not to be believed.

Astrology is a system that uses the elements of life – fire, earth, air, and water – along with the modality of projection that creates an energic field to help us understand (human) nature. We know this as the Zodiac. As the planets orbit, depending on their relationship to one another, and what area of the sky they transit, the planets take on an energy of their own and affect life on Earth. I would imagine that all planetary movement within our solar system to have a bearing or a relationship to all the other planets, although this is currently an unknown since we have no proof of life ‘out there’.

In the years that followed I gained an extensive education in astrology through various universities and teachers from around the world. I now see clients professionally and get paid for my insight. I lecture on numerous astrological topics such as addictions, career, goals, personality, and the parent/child relationship. I teach beginners and advanced students.

What I have observed from my astrological practice is that an introvert may tend to have more earth and water in their chart or planets in the earth and water houses. Extroverts often have more planets in fire and air, or their planets fall into the fire and air houses. Like in Chinese medicine, earth and water are passive energy, whereas fire and air are more dominant energies.

Along with my astrology practice, I have worked with various non-profit organizations who support people with dystonia. I am often asked to give motivational talks. Currently, I facilitate an international encouragement group for people who have CD, with an emphasis on emotional and spiritual healing, with the hope that we may learn to accept and appreciate our ‘new normal’. I have worked with individuals who are blind, or visually impaired, those with paralysis, and other forms of movement disorders. For many years I was the Administrator for an out-patient drug and alcohol addictions center. I share great empathy and admiration for people who are willing and able to conquer a physical limitation.

When presented with a health challenge or physical disability, it is not uncommon for a person who was once outgoing and an extrovert to now draw inward. I feel a true extrovert will be the person who is able to rise above and to become the sounding voice of motivation and inspiration. Whereas introverts may play a more subtle role in lending their heart and time to inspire. An introvert may often become the helper and the healer with a strong desire to serve those in need, like me.

Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion about Thriving As An Introvert. In order to make sure that we are all on the same page, let’s begin with a simple definition. What does “Introvert” mean to you?

An introvert is one who may shy away from the mass of people. They are typically more naturally quiet. They prefer the company of others in small doses and may excel by being alone. An introvert is a person who is often creative, whose creativity is channeled from an emotional surge. An introvert is one who needs the escape time to be able to listen to the soul as a source of inspiration. Introverts may be seen as ‘loners’ or appear unapproachable, often due to their shyness.

Can you help articulate a few of the challenges that come with being an introvert?

One challenge of being an introvert is the fear of speaking up. Many introverts may not want to call attention to themselves or be seen or heard in a negative light, so they lean toward silence to protect themselves from receiving undue commentary. Another challenge of an introvert may be that they do not feel as confident to step up to be recognized for what they have to offer, which may result in being overlooked in a relationship or for a potential job opportunity. Because many introverts tend to be more private, they may not want to be questioned for how they feel, which may lead to misunderstandings in communication.

I’m sure that being an introvert also gives you certain advantages. Can you tell us a few advantages that introverts have?

An advantage of being an introvert is to want to take the time to think before you speak. An introvert will often give pause and step back to calmly assess a situation with the potential to make a more calculated or informed decision. They may prefer to independently accomplish a task which often leads to higher productivity output. Because of their strong awareness of time, I have witnessed that an introvert may rarely complain about not having enough hours in the day to accomplish their goals.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being an introvert? Can you explain what you mean?

I feel one ‘myth’ about being an introvert is that they are emotionally weak. To the contrary – an introvert will often have a strong inner reserve of emotional stamina due to their ability to work through difficulties on their own. Another myth about introverts is that they are lazy, or do not want to be bothered by others. Many introverts may be quite ambitious to accomplish a routine or tedious task and not allow others to distract them from their desire to seek a tangible result for their time. An example might be that an introvert will decline a social invitation to repair their bicycle with the intention of accomplishing such a chore so that the bike will be ready to use as a form of transportation when needed.

Do you have any role models who are also introverts? What have you learned from them that can help introverts navigate the challenges and benefits of introversion?

I really can’t think of any introvert that I have considered a role model in my life. It is not something that I have thought of or sought out. This comment is not based on ego, but rather self-trust “As an introvert, I am my best role model.” I trust my own instincts to know what is best for me as I move about the world.

If I did have to choose someone as a role model, it would be my father’s mother, my grandmother. For the most part, my grandmother was unassuming and quiet. As a child and young adult, I would sit and talk with her. My grandmother had amazing wisdom to share from instinctively observing the world around her. She rarely reacted to outside stimuli (the news, people’s problems etc.), yet would often impart noteworthy life lessons with me from witnessing human behavior.

Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the “Five Things Introverts Need To Thrive & Succeed In A Society That Seems To Favor Extroverts”? If you can, please share a story or an example for each.

1 . An introvert needs to know that their experience and life skills matter to others. The extrovert may be the person to initiate an idea or project, however it is often the introvert who will carry out the mission to completion. An introvert may thrive with the belief that every responsibility or task is of importance.

2 . It is essential for an introvert to surround themselves with a small team of like-minded friends or co-workers who can act as a sounding board and to offer moral support. An introvert will often live in their own head, so it is important that they feel comfortable to share their thoughts and ideas with people they trust. Reaching out to others can be a powerful action, to provide incentive and to gain inspiration.

3 . An introvert may need a quiet space throughout their day to intuitively re-connect with the world around them so they may recharge and to feel a greater sense of well-being. An introvert must allow themselves adequate time to work on a personal or professional project to help them feel more organized and grounded. This may mean they must say ‘no’ to a request from others, and to not feel guilt toward declining an invitation.

4 . To succeed in society today an introvert may benefit by utilizing and appreciating their intangible qualities such as fortitude, humility, intuition, quietness, and perfectionism. With so much noise that is happening nowadays, the stability and inner focus of the introvert may help to ease and comfort the chaos of the favored extrovert.

5 . An introvert may thrive by being able to practice patience. The beauty of introversion is an acute awareness and insight that the right thing will come to them in divine time. If an introvert knows in their heart what they desire and holds onto that, there is no need to fear or to tumultuously push themself out into the world. Being patient requires a sense of stillness and trust - this type of approach may call for remarkable courage, to not give in, or up, too quickly on a dream.

How should an introvert navigate social relationships and networking, activities that are often touted as extroverts' forte? Do you have any advice for introverts in these areas?

When it comes to social navigation and networking, my advice would be - just be yourself and get others to talk about themselves by asking questions. Offer to help others and ask what you can do for them. This shows respect and may provide a sense of belonging when the other person acknowledges or accepts your offer. Smile – as this will make others feel that you are approachable. Make eye contact, so as the introvert, you may gain a deeper sense of the other person, which could provide you with the upper hand.

What are some practical tips you can offer to introverts who want to succeed in the workplace, which is often geared towards extroverted behaviors?

My best advice for an introvert in the workplace is to do the job you were hired to do and do it well. An introvert may further succeed by taking on the responsibility to fulfill a required task an extrovert will find tedious. The extrovert will often burn out or get bored more quickly which makes them more likely to move on. As an introvert, stay on course and focus on your future career needs. Be humble and learn to appreciate a more peaceful progression toward your desired success.

Have you noticed any specific ways that being an introvert affects mental health or overall well-being? Any tips for introverts to maintain good mental health?

I am not a mental health professional, although as an astrologer and someone who has a vast knowledge of human nature my best tip for an introvert to maintain good mental health is to accept who you are, know your strengths and weaknesses. It may be vital to accept that as an introvert, you may not have the same instinct or desire to navigate the outside world. Enhance the qualities that you do love about yourself and share those with others. Learn to appreciate and expand upon your intuitive and sensitivity skills. Step in to help others.

It may be common that throughout life many of us may move through a phase of introversion or extroversion depending on current life circumstances. For myself, I like to think back to an earlier and stronger time in my life and to re-connect emotionally with how I felt back then to understand how I might manage my current state of wellbeing.

Another fun tip for an introvert to maintain good mental health is to seek out the insight of an Astrologer and to explore your birth chart. This may generate comfort and self-confidence and provide the tool to understand your specific energies on how best to navigate your individual world.

In your opinion, are societal views on introversion changing? If so, how do you think this impacts introverts positively or negatively? Can you please explain what you mean?

I feel in time societal views on introversion will change in a positive manner. We currently live in a world filled with chaos, much of what has been brought on by an extroverted population. I am thankful for the extroverts who have initiated such a platform that has had a positive impact on today’s society, that will lead us into the future with a more open and enlightened mindset. A major change for the future may be the desire to temper the extravagance of fame, control, greed, and inflated success for the sake of peace, harmony, and functionality.

In the coming years, I feel society may wish to seek a greater sense of solitude and safety. In doing so, the approach and the actions of the introvert will favor the needs of the people.

Can you please give us your favorite "Life Lesson Quote"? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Years ago I published a book entitled 101 Simple Suggestions and Quotations to Express Compassion and Empathy. Two of my favorite quotes in the book are “One cannot heal, unless One is willing to be wounded” and “Realize you have nothing, until you are able to give something of yourself away”. The first quote implies that to grow in life, we must accept and learn from our pain and circumstances. The second quote suggests that if we look deep within, we will discover our true value, and this may be the gift we have to share with our world. These two quotes from my first book have become invaluable life lessons as I continue in my journey, living with the movement disorder, cervical dystonia.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

In the great words of Jeff Probst (Survivor), he said “(it’s) time to drop your buffs”. As a person of great influence, I would stand upon the stage of Life and I would dare every one of us to metaphorically drop our buffs – drop our attitude, our ego, our guns, our differences, our judgements about race, our religious views, our politics, our power, and our limited mindset. I would ask that we lay down our guard and emotionally strip ourselves down to the origin of our being to a time before we were influenced by the outside world and just ‘be’. BE what it feels like to have breath/life. I would ask everyone to take in that breath and to realize we all are doing time on this planet. In the scheme of existence no one matters for long, although at this moment in time we all matter. I would further ask that each of us commit to at least one person (or more) that we want to make proud of us, and with every action we take, we understand that our actions become a reflection on how we are seen by the world. Think of your own world as a small place, so it does not feel overwhelming. Shut out everyone, yet help and serve the people in your community or inner circle. Humanity will shift one mindset at a time – become that one mind by surrendering yourself. Metaphorically ‘drop your buff’. I will start. Will you follow me? Let’s change the world to the perspective of the introvert mindset, with the energy level of the extrovert. Together everyone wins.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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