Earlier this week, Melissa from Oh, My Darling post a link to this article, entitled "Caring for Your Introvert."
I felt like I was reading my own life story. Especially this part:
"Many actors, I've read, are introverts, and many introverts, when socializing, feel like actors."
This couldn't be more true, at least for me. While I certainly don't mind being around other people, and most of the time I genuinely enjoy it, I do feel a bit like I am performing the entire time. It's exhausting, to say the least. I can handle it in small doses, but then I need some "me time" to recover.
One of the comments on that article linked to the The Introvert's Corner on the Psychology Today website. I found everything there very interesting, but this post, which is about how shyness and introversion are not the same, is what really resonated with me so far.
You see, I used to be not only introverted, but painfully shy. Ask my mom, she'll tell you about how I spent most of my first few days of nursery school hiding under a couch and crying because I was afraid of the other kids.
I starting coming out of my shell when I started doing theater in middle school, which probably contributes to the fact that I feel like I'm performing when I'm around other people. But despite my new confidence, I remain an introvert. I'm more willing to talk to strangers, but it still takes a lot out of me. I get incredibly nervous before an interview, or even making a phone call to someone I've never spoken to before, but I figured out that if I channel that nervous energy the same way I did before I'd get on stage back in middle school and high school, I could fool other people into thinking that I'm both confident and socially competent. ;-)
That presents quite the challenge when it comes to doing craft shows, since I spend ALL DAY talking to complete strangers and experience that nervous energy for hours on end. I've only done a handful of craft shows so far, but my experience with them was pretty varied. Sometimes I'd chat it up with all these new people with no problem whatsoever, but other times just a smile and a "hello" seemed to take a herculean effort.
After reading this article, I started thinking really carefully about what the difference between those shows might have been. It was how I spent the night before the show. Was I sitting quietly at home, relaxing and recharging, or was I out socializing? If it was the former, interacting with strangers the next day seemed a lot easier. If it was the latter, I felt tired and awkward and even a little cranky.
And you know what? The shows where I was able to easily interact with my customers were the shows where I made the most sales. Now, I'm sure there were other factors that affected my sales to some degree or another, such as the number of people attending the show, the time of year, etc. I doubt my demeanor wasn't the sole factor in how much or how little I sold, but it's probably a save bet that it played a role.
As of right now it looks like I'll have at least 4 shows lined up for October and November. With these new insights in mind, I'm going to make a point of spending the evening before at home. I'll get everything I need for the next day packed up and then I'll read a book or watch a movie, and make sure I can put my best face forward for all my potential customers.