I call myself an extrovert introvert, and to be honest I am not really sure if this is real, but it’s definitely how I feel about myself. I am definitely an enigma for a person with social anxiety. I do feel like I live in my head a lot. This is most likely why I always gravitated to solitary things like reading, gardening, making jewelry and crafting.
As a child, my parents were always trying to find something to “draw me out of my shell.” I had a hard time talking to my peers (kids thought I was a snob), and was “shy” around most adults. Going back and reading my old yearbooks, everyone said the same thing, “You’re so quiet. I wish I knew you better.” My parents had me do all different things to try to “fix me.” I tried sports and dance, different organizations, social events, music and choir lessons, and they even put me in modeling school which led to a lukewarm modeling career I would get sick before every fashion show or photo shoot and I would often get sick before I had to speak in public.
Flash forward to later in my life, I was always drawn to situations or jobs where I had to be social in a way that would have made teenage me go to bed for three days. To mention just a few, I worked as a waitress at a sports bar, I sold roses in nightclubs, I worked at a department store makeup counter selling makeup and giving makeovers, and I worked as a telephone customer service rep for a large lingerie company. I both hated and loved those jobs. While I have always loved talking to people, I’m have not always been good at it.
I have another “issue” which is actually kind of funny sometimes. I have always had a problem with what I call “Foot in Mouth Syndrome.” When talking with people, I will ramble on or blurt things out, often not having any idea of what I said afterward. After large events with a lot of conversation, I will come home and lie on the floor in the dark for a couple of hours wondering what in the world I said.
You might think all of that equals a true person with social anxiety. Yet, I often also enjoy situations where I am talking with a lot of people or where I am the center of attention. With the current quarantine situation and not being able to do my regular life events, it had been really hard for me, which has been surprising. I had always assumed I would love to be stuck at home for months on end, helping me realize there may be more to me than social anxiety.
When I started working Trade Shows, I was really nervous about how I would talk to people about my jewelry. I would “practice” talking about my work and what to say. One of my friends who is a loud extrovert would often come with me. She was quite good at getting people to look at my work while I sat on the side in awe. I would try to duplicate what she would say, and it never came out quite right. Truth be told, there were some awkward conversations with people when the old “Foot in Mouth Syndrome” took over.
Honestly, I think these last five years of having my business and meeting people from all over the world has done more for my ability to speak in public to anyone about anything than all those years of everything else I have tried. It’s really amazing for me to look back at how far I have come and all the things I have done!
If we ever meet in person, I honestly can’t guarantee the old “Foot in Mouth” won’t return, but maybe we will both have a good laugh about it. I do look forward to new conversations, new situations, new friends, and new events with a happy heart.