With the journey on the road to becoming an author, part of the stretch includes interacting with people. Facebook pages and posts (still haven’t gotten around to that – my least favorite platform), Twitter updates, regular Instagram uploads, and – most importantly – actually reaching out and connecting with others. Like, on purpose.
Now, fun fact; I’m an introvert. With anxiety.
On a normal basis, it takes quite a bit of energy to do interactions like that with the people I actually know. Most of the friends I’ve made over the years have been extroverts who adopted me, or introverts I just happened to bump into. So the “reaching out” thing was never an issue before. Now? It’s just terrifying.
I don’t know how the extrovert brain works, I can only speak from the introvert side – But we’re afraid of initiating interaction with strangers. Add to that being a woman and just a little sensitive, and you have a tight ball of rubber band nerves.
So this was a big hurdle for me to face, and still is. Scheduling posts on various platforms, figuring out the website, commissioning the cover, editing the manuscript – All those things are within my grasp, and without expending too much energy. The part where I need to actively look for people’s posts, strangers no less, and find a way to interact past a like? Hella awkward.
One of the things that has helped was finding posts with QOTD (Question of the Day) as a starting point. Super easy, just like post, answer question, move on.
Another comforting thing was focusing on the bookish community in particular. I feel somewhat at home with this group, given all the reading I’ve done myself, and obviously being a writer. I can relate to this community far easier than I could, say, the sports community. Put me in a room with a bunch of them and I’d rather meld into the wall than start up a conversation.
All that said, something to keep in mind while doing this is giving people the benefit of doubt.
I say this in a very particular sense; And this is usually where the anxiety tends to be more of a problem than the introversion. It’s not assuming people are immediately going to hate you, or think you’re weird based on a first or second or even third interaction. It’s accepting that, even if I don’t come off the way I’d like to, worse thing that happens is they don’t talk to me. Which is what I prefer, anyways, so in theory? Best and worst case are both best case. Win-win-win.
It’s important to keep in mind as well, you are in control of how you interact with others.
For example; At work, I keep an upbeat front (even when I’m not necessarily feeling up to it), I keep interactions with my team professional, yet friendly and – most importantly – I feign confidence, even during the phases where I don’t feel even an ounce left in my entire body. I can even omit an “aggressive” stance when I need to make sure I’m being heard. These aren’t things I normally portray; these are attributes I’ve given myself specifically to cope in an office environment.
The same goes for this! It just feels different because of how heavily this line of work relies on interpersonal relations.
It’s still something I’m learning step by step, and I know I’m more than capable of it.
All this to say, it’s important to take some time to get some perspective on new and evolving situations. Each new challenge you face, each step you take towards your goals, every new experience is going to require learning skills you may not have been attuned to prior. But with enough perseverance and determination, you can do anything you set your mind to.