I am an introvert. I am also an artist who wants to connect with other creatives and share my work with people who appreciate it. How does an introvert muster the courage to come out from behind the screen? Is it even necessary?
This past month has been a stressful one. Not only have I been dealing with everyday stress, but my first real craft show was on December 3. The two weekends after that, I perused some other local craft shows attended by some of my favorite local makers and I had the chance to connect with them...in real life (not just through social media). As an introvert, it was all challenging.
You've heard of introverts and extroverts, but do you really know what those terms mean? Most people think introverts are quiet, awkward and shy. While I may be those things, I can handle myself perfectly fine in a social setting. I just don't like to do it every day.
Therein lies the true definition of introversion: Energy is drained from introverts when they're surrounded by large groups of people. On the other hand, extroverts are energized by being around other people. Introverts need some alone time after social gatherings to replenish their energy.
What does this mean for an introverted artist? The world basically lives on the internet, where almost anything can be done from behind the privacy of a screen. Do you actually have to meet people in real life?
The answer is yes. Nothing beats a face-to-face interaction. That's where real connections are made. Someone is much more likely to remember you if you meet in person as opposed to on the web. There, you're just one tiny fish in a sea of other creatives.
So how does one navigate the waters as an introvert? I learned a couple of tricks during my time as an orientation leader in college. Shocking, right? I did it every summer, including the one after I graduated. We were the face of the university and definitely had to keep our energy up for shy freshmen and nervous parents.
First, you need mentally prepare yourself for the event. Realize that you'll need to be on your A-game. You'll need to be energized. Wake up that morning with the mindset that you're going into "social mode." Tough it out with the comfort of knowing that at the end of the day, you'll get that precious time to recharge. Second, accept that you need alone time and protect it at all costs. Don't feel bad that after an exhausting day, your friends are going out while you're sitting in a dark room binge-watching The Jetsons in your favorite hoodie. (Or something like that...you do you.) People will eventually learn not to bother you while you're recharging.
A parting word to the extroverts out there: this doesn't mean introverts are a bunch of weirdos that hide from the world and get panic attacks at the mere thought of conversing with someone. We're just wired differently than you!