As an introvert who digs her heels in when it comes to new experiences, it’s hard sometimes to appreciate all that the world can offer to a young writer. When it comes to new places, I’m eager to experience them, but when it comes to new people, I’m usually in full out panic mode unless I’ve had a few martinis.
This makes it pretty difficult to establish a well-rounded social circle that can offer plenty of insight into the diversity of the human condition. I have to draw from my brief encounters and my very small social circle. That sounds kind of ominous, doesn’t it? Like I’ve got my quick quotes quill constantly at the ready? I will Rita Skeeter your quotes into my prose with cold-hearted enthusiasm! I’m kidding. Maybe.
So, between side-eyeing my friends and co-workers when they indulge about the intricacies of their lives or even, you know, the interesting inflection and gestures of the AC repair guy or the barista at Starbucks, I get around my social anxiety enough to hopefully give a fair representation of diverse and believable personality types in my prose. Yes, hopefully I’m not filling my manuscripts with anxious introverts who spend way too much time in front of a computer monitor and/or coffeemaker.
What I’ve found works to widen my sphere of social interaction — most introverts would probably find kind of strange — is big events like concerts, music festivals or even political marches (yeah, I went to D.C. and participated in a sit-in last April. I definitely met some fascinating people with that experience.). These types of things give me the option of anonymity and if strangers end up talking to me it’s too spontaneous for me to work myself into a panic. This same strategy worked in college because randomly being called to critique my peers artwork inspired way less horror than waiting for the teacher to get all the way down to the end of the alphabet to call my name in speech class.
Obviously, this doesn’t necessarily help me function in daily life, but that’s a whole other post. Let’s just say I manage and have matured enough to brush off my awkward interactions instead of dwelling on it for ages. I call that progress.