IDAHO FALLS — Local cartoonist Maureen “Marzi” Wilson spent a portion of her life wondering why she felt like the “odd one out.”
She had been diagnosed with severe anxiety as a teenager, but she still never really understood her tendency to keep to herself, not share too much with others, or why she stay glued inside her comfort zone. Verbal communication is something she said she’d rather do without and the thought of public speaking is nearly overwhelming.
Everything came into sharper focus though when she was taking a personality test and it revealed that she was an introvert. Being able to put a name to how she felt was groundbreaking for her, and it led her career in illustrations.
“I thought that (my behaviors/preferences) were something that I needed to fix,” Wilson said. “It was causing some problems for me as I was trying to work on dealing with my anxiety because I was trying to fix things that didn’t need to be fixed.”
Wilson started a webcomic called Introvert Doodles, and it’s about her feelings of anxiety and being an introvert. Since she started the comic, Wilson has discovered there are a lot of people just like her.
“Introvert doodles was my way of processing which behaviors and traits were due to my introversion and which were due to anxiety,” Wilson said. “(I was) learning to embrace the introverted aspects of myself while working to manage my anxiety in a healthier way.”
Being an introvert in what she believes is an extroverted world has its challenges. Rather than being in groups and participating in activities other people consider “fun,” Wilson is the opposite. She enjoys being alone and expressing herself through her doodles.
Introvert Doodles first started to take off when Wilson decided to post some of her work on Instagram several years ago. They went viral. Media outlets like the Huffington Post and BuzzFeed picked them up. Her Instagram page saw a rapid increase in followers from people interested in her talent, and from those who could relate to what they saw in the comics.
In 2016, Adams Media (an imprint of Simon and Schuster) asked if she would be willing to turn her doodles into a book. She never set out with the intention to write a book, let alone four of them, but she knows her illustrations can help other introverts know they aren’t alone and that it’s okay to open up. Therapists have told her they use her drawings with their younger clients, even though her main demographic is for people ages 18-34.
“I try to make my doodles approachable,” Wilson said. “Although a lot of them deal with big topics, I try to do it in a way that’s not scary or intimidating. So I like to think of my doodles as conversation starters. It’s really easy to maybe share a comic that you come across, rather than starting a difficult conversation with somebody about your mental health.”
Mental health is a topic Wilson advocates by using her platform. When not drawing, she attends mental health conferences, learns about suicide prevention and volunteers at the Community Youth in Action in Idaho Falls. She is also an advisor with the Bright Lights Teen Group, a local LGBTQ support team.
“I do get out a little bit,” Wilson said. “(The kids) are worth it.”
All four books in Wilson’s series, including her brand new release “The Little Book of Big Feelings” are available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon.