👤 This week’s INF interview is with Bryanna Gary. In her own words...
I'm an aspiring editor in New York finishing up my wacky concentration in The Concept of Otherness in Speculative Fiction at NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study. I founded my website, Satyr Central, to be a fun space for writers and a place where writing seen less often in academia (science fiction, fantasy, comedy, horror, weird poetry, etc) can be found. I love writing, reading, and (when I have the energy!) talking someone's ear off.
🎧 We followed this interview up with a conversation -> listen here.
Hey Bryanna :) So can we start this interview by finding out where in the world you currently reside? Is this also where you grew up?
I currently reside in New York, NY. My family moved around a lot when I was a kid, so I’ve lived in New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas, Illinois, and Kentucky. Then I went full circle and came back to the big city!
Wow, that’s a lot of moving around. What’s that been like for you? What do you feel have been the advantages/disadvantages?
I’ve always been someone who doesn’t adjust to change very fast, so I would say that moving around a lot contributed to my eventual introversion. The more we moved, the less likely I was to be the one to speak up in class. That’s been the biggest disadvantage. One big advantage is that it’s a great conversation starter when meeting new people! I remember meeting some of my suitemates when I moved into my dorm last year and a few of them were from Texas near the city I lived for three years. It was cool to be from multiple different places and be able to relate to different people that way.
I can certainly relate to not adjusting so well to change; I tend to have to go slow and easy. You’ve talked a little about it already, but do you remember what you were like as a child?
I was actually pretty chatty when I was younger. I remember I was always the one to raise my hand to answer questions or to volunteer to read out loud in elementary school. I think my personality started to change pretty drastically when I went to middle school and continued on into high school.
That’s interesting. Do you have any sense of why your personality might’ve changed? Do you feel this was more nature (your natural development) or nurture (your environment)?
It was probably a mix of both. I had always been at least somewhat introverted, but I just didn’t show it as much when I was younger. I was the talkative one in my family as a child, but I still had moments where I just wanted to sit in my room by myself and didn’t want anyone to bother me. Moving around is probably what made it manifest in a different way because losing friends every time we moved was always tough and started to take a toll. Don’t get me wrong: I’m glad we moved as much as we did now. It made me who I am today. But I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times when I wished we didn’t move so much.
I hear you, that’s completely understandable.
Moving along, what was school like for you? And how were your teenage years as a whole?
When I was younger, I really liked school. As I got older, I started to dread it and felt like a shell of what I used to be. I never raised my hand in class, hated speaking in front of people and started to prefer daydreaming to real life. I used my daydreams as inspiration for writing stories, so it was helpful in that sense, but it definitely impacted my interactions with people pretty negatively. I started to feel like I couldn’t hold conversations with people outside my family anymore.
It’s interesting, I enjoyed school for a long time but, in my last couple of years, I was really bored, disillusioned and fed up.
What words, or phrases, would you use to describe your current self?
Extroverted introvert, curious, imaginative, a little spacey!
I like that word 'spacey'... What do you mean by that?
Thanks! Easily distracted, I’d say. I recently wrote a piece for one of my school’s online publications about “maladaptive daydreaming” or an intense desire to daydream that almost turns into a sort of addiction. I have a vivid imagination and can daydream for hours at a time, so I’m willing to bet I come across as pretty spacey sometimes.
Oh my goodness, that sounds very familiar. I might have to check that out myself!
And when was it that you first realised that you were an introvert? How did this happen?
I think I started to realize I was an introvert when I started daydreaming around middle school and high school. I felt drained of energy when I had to talk to people for an extended period of time, and even to this day I can hang out with friends for a while but will need to spend some time by myself. Daydreaming became my way of “recharging” and I’m thankful for music every day because it got me through some rough times.
I’m a daydreamer, too! And you’ve mentioned that a couple of times now.
What's your Myers-Briggs personality type? (or something else?)
Oh yay, me too! When did you first do the Myers-Briggs test and realise you were an INF?
I actually did it sometime last year and made sure to show it to my mom and sister because I found it surprisingly accurate. I think my sister also got something INF, though I can’t quite recall.
Has discovering you were an INF_ impacted you in any way? If so, how?
I definitely felt a sense of belonging knowing that other people might have a similar “type” as me. I always felt like it wasn’t normal to want to retreat into myself the way I often did, so it was validating to know I wasn’t the only one.
I can relate to that for sure. What qualities do you think INFs share?
I think we’re all pretty introverted yet empathetic. I’ve found that my most introverted friends tend to be the most in tune with my emotions and vice versa.
What were your favourite subjects at school? (If applicable) what did you study at university/college?
This probably won’t come as any surprise, but English or anything to do with writing. I’m currently studying the Concept of Otherness in Speculative Fiction in college, which is basically mixing my obsession with daydreaming, fantasy/sci-fi, reading, writing, and politics into one big, weird major.
That major sounds so interesting - I love the title! Can you tell us more about it?
Thank you! So I started off as a computer science student but realized that I wanted to be a writing and comp sci just wasn’t for me. That’s when I made the switch to the smaller school, which allows students to specialize in “individualized” degrees where you basically build up your own degree from scratch. Because I loved sci-fi and fantasy so much and always considered it a sort of escape, I wanted creative writing to be part of my major. It might not be the most practical thing, but it’s actually been turning out pretty well so far, and I’m hoping to get a job in publishing when I graduate. I also wanted to incorporate some political theory into my degree, which is where the “Concept of Otherness” comes from. I study race, sexuality, gender, religion, etc, and how certain groups are “otherized.” I merged writing and politics together to create a concentration that focuses on getting more people of color in the media industry, specifically publishing.
“It might not be the most practical thing…” - I’m so glad that you chose what felt right, nevertheless. Good on you. This concept of “Otherness” sounds so fascinating. It sounds like you’re doing some really interesting stuff.
What are you spending your time on at the moment?
I’m currently procrastinating on a paper, listening to music, browsing Twitter (as one does), and reading a book. I am very easily distracted!
Woah, sounds like some major multi-tasking going on there… ;)
Ha, for sure! I get bored too easily to only do one thing at a time. I even have a monitor my brother set up for me so I can listen to podcasts or watch Youtube videos while I’m working at my desk. I admit it doesn’t make me more productive (probably less), but it’s how I’m comfortable working.
Okay, so moving on a little… Was there a moment in your life when you made a drastic change?
My biggest change was when I internally transferred schools within my university. I went from a school that was very lecture-heavy and didn’t require much speaking to a school that’s much more close-knit and almost always has a participation grade involved in every class. It’s how I met some of my closest friends, developed a great relationship with my fantastic advisor and many amazing professors, started finding internships, founded Satyr Central with my friends, and overall came out of my shell. It was definitely the biggest change of my life because I don’t think I’d be where I am today if I hadn’t made that decision, and if I could go back and do it all over again, I happily would.
That sounds amazing. It sounds like that change had a pretty major impact on you. I’m so glad it was a positive one. And I’m glad that you mentioned Satyr Central :) Can you tell us some more about it, and how it has evolved since you started it?
I actually started it a couple months ago pretty randomly. I was telling my friends Rachel and Lydia (Rachel Presents Rachel and lyd. on the site) that I wanted to start a blog for writers who write things that aren’t considered “academic” (science fiction, fantasy, comedy, rants, etc). One night, I just texted them telling them I was going to buy the domain and just dive in, and they happily helped me pay for the domain and encouraged me to do it. From there, I (sloppily!) designed the site and posted some of my writing to it. It really pushed me to put myself out there more. I started posting fliers around my school looking for contributors, I’d tell new people about the site and invite them to contribute if they were also writers, I started a Twitter account for both myself and the site as well as a Facebook and Pinterest page, and just started posting writing. For now, it’s mostly my own writing because we’re small and just getting started, but we’ve also had contributions from my close friends Emma, Jonny (Jon the Semite), and Rebecca, who also joined us as editors. We’ve even had a couple anonymous submissions as well as a few “philosophical” posts courtesy of my fantastic brother. My goal is to get my amazingly talented graphic designer sister to help out with improving the site, but we’ll see!
Things are pretty slow at the moment what with finals and such, but I’m hoping to start posting more consistently again.
Oh my goodness, I love this. I especially like that you just got started with it, and that it seemed to gather a momentum of its own from the sounds of things. Thank you for sharing this with us.
So, I feel like I know what the answer might be, but… do you have a preferred creative/artistic outlet? Can you tell us a bit about this?
Definitely writing. Fantasizing has always been my way of coping with anxiety and depression, and writing was my way of feeling like I turned the anxiety into something. I have a habit of starting short stories and never finishing them, but I’m hoping to spend my holiday break on a number of different writing projects and actually finish them!
Thanks for being so honest about your depression and anxiety; I’ve experienced the same, and I think a lot of INFPs and INFJs have. Do you feel you use your writing to help you manage your mental health on an ongoing basis?
I really think it does. Having any sort of creative outlet has always helped me to manage stress and anxiety in life. Lydia (lyd.) is a wonderful guitar player and inspired me to take up playing the guitar myself, and it’s been so cathartic to learn new songs (if a bit frustrating sometimes). I think it’s part of why computer science didn’t really work out for me; the arts have always been where I felt more comfortable, especially when it comes to writing.
Would you describe yourself as a 'highly sensitive person', or an empath?
Absolutely. I’ve always been terrified of saying the wrong thing and offending someone, and I’ve always felt like I notice even the smallest changes in someone’s behavior that might mean something is bothering them. Whether I’m a good empath or not is up for debate, but I do feel pretty in-tune with people’s emotions generally.
Do you have a personal definition of 'success'? What does being 'successful' look like to you?
I tend to be hard on myself when it comes to my definition of ‘success.’ I got into a great school that I love and am happy with, but I didn’t have enough internships. I have enough internships, but I need big-name internships. I’m really excited for my internships next semester, but now I need a really good job or everything is for nothing. I tend to define success as entirely career-based and money-centric when that doesn’t have to be the case, and I’ve been trying new things to break myself out of that cycle.
Thanks for answering this so openly. It feels like, at high school and college, that version of ‘success’ is very much the one we are exposed to and is constantly reinforced.
Absolutely. Even though the major I ended up choosing will probably be not nearly as lucrative as if I had stuck with computer science, my parents stood by me and told me that they wanted me to do what made me happy, not what would make the most money. I’ll always appreciate them for that (among many other things). Having that kind of support is probably why I now have a major I’m so happy with, because otherwise I’d be even harder on myself and probably would’ve forced myself to stick with a major I didn’t like.
What about 'happiness' - do you have a personal recipe for that?
Happiness is being around the people who make you feel valued and loved. I consider myself a more confident person today, but I doubt that would be the case if it wasn’t for the wonderful people I met along the way and the endless love and support of my family.
Oh, I love that definition. Okay, so a couple of more ‘fun’ questions now. Do you like to plan things, or are you more of a go-with-the-flow type of person? (Or, perhaps, a little bit of both?)
I think I’m a bit of both. If it’s something I’m anxious about, I’ll plan for it meticulously. Otherwise, I like to do things spontaneously.
What does your 'perfect Sunday' (or Saturday) look like?
My perfect Sunday (or Saturday) is listening to DND podcasts while writing, reading, or practicing guitar.
That sounds lovely! Is there anything you've read, watch or listened to recently, that you've loved? (Whether a book, blog, podcast, film/TV show, etcetera).
I highly recommend Collegehumor’s Dimension 20 series on Dropout, which is a comedy DND podcast hosted by the fantastic DM Brennan Lee Mulligan. I’d also recommend Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s Friday Black, a dark speculative fiction anthology that I absolutely adored.
Both of these sounds super-interesting, thank you. How about blogs and podcasts… do you have any favourites there?
Ironically, I don’t read blogs as much as I should even though I started one. I would say Dimension 20 remains my favorite podcast series. I’ve also been checking out INF Club and I love getting to see the experiences of other INFP/INFJs.
I went through a phase where I was an avid blog-reader, but I don’t so much these days either. Ah, thank you, I’m glad you’ve been enjoying INF Club so far.
How about favourite movies or TV shows? Anything you've seen recently that you'd recommend?
The Office and Living Single are my comfort shows!
The Office is one of my all-time favourites! Lately, it has replaced Friends as my go-to lunchtime watch. Btw, if you haven’t come across it already, you might wish to check out The Office Ladies podcast - it’s great.
I’ve heard about it and it sounds great! I’ll definitely be checking it out! And Friends used to be a comfort show for me as well, but like you, I’ve made the switch.
A ‘comfort show’ is a great way to describe it, that’s exactly what Friends and The Office both feel like for me.
Okay, so if you could go back in time and meet "you" back in 2010, is there any advice that you'd give this younger self?
I’d probably tell my younger self to chill out and stop assuming everyone is judging her. Strangers don’t care about what we’re doing as much as we think they do, and we miss out on great opportunities by being afraid of everything and assuming we’ll fail.
That sounds like great advice. If you could one or two pieces of advice to your follow INFs, what would they be? (Is there anything in particular that you've "worked on", which you've found helpful to you/your life in some way?)
There’s a huge (but fortunately changing) stigma against therapy and medication, but seeing a therapist and starting medication was a huge part of what helped me on the road to trying new things and meeting new people. I’m now a happy introvert that has a balance between being alone and being around others, and I’m glad I took the steps to get to that point. Take care of your mental health above all else.
I’m so humbled and grateful that you have been so honest about your mental health, Bryanna. Thank you so much. I feel it’s so important to talk about this, and what you’ve said right there is such an important message to convey. (I, too, have experienced therapy in different forms and been on medication, too).
I’m happy to get to share with other INF’s/introverts and I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to do so! One of the many things I love about my school is how open all of my friends and classmates have been about their mental health, and I think that’s what enabled me to be willing to be open about it too.
What does 'self-care' mean for you? How do you practise it?
I have two extremes that count as self-care for me: spending time with close friends and family, and just spending time by myself. But again, it’s good to have a balance between the two.
Oh, I love this. I actually wrote a piece recently that was talking about this balance… you’re absolutely right, I feel both of these things are crucial in looking after ourselves as INFPs and INFJs.
I haven’t seen that one yet, but I’ll for sure check it out! There’s a stereotype that introverts always want to be alone, but that’s just not true. I love meeting new people and can sometimes talk for hours at a time, but I love being alone just as much, and there’s nothing wrong with either one.
Do you have a favourite quote?
A dear friend of mine is a huge Kafka fan and showed me some of his quotes. I particularly liked “I have the true feeling of myself only when I am unbearably happy.”
For those of us who might not know what that is, can you tell us a little about Kafka?
Franz Kafka wrote books and short stories and was known for having a bit of a “downer” outlook on life (his stories were often about existentialism and the meaning of life). He was a major 20th century novelist/short story writer, but I’ve only ever read The Metamorphosis out of his works.
Thank you for that. Okay, we’re almost at the end now, Bryanna. For those who have read this interview and would like to find and connect with you online, how can they do that?
You can also find my writing blog Satyr Central (www.satyrcentral.com) on Twitter (@satyr_central) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/satyrcentral/).
Great! And lastly, is there anything else you'd like to say before I let you go?
I wanted to thank the fine folks at INF Club for inviting me to do this interview!
I also wanted to include a shameless plug for Satyr Central for any sci-fi writers, fantasy writers, satire writers, or anyone just looking to rant about something!
Thanks so much for taking part, Bryanna, and for being so honest and generous with your answers. This has been fun.
Jas + Bryanna
Published: May 8th, 2020.
subscribe to INF Club
articles, interviews and other tidbits to help you on your journey…