I looked up the word “Introvert” and found a definition that used to the words “shy” and “reticent” (not revealing one’s thoughts or feelings readily). For the word “extrovert”, I found a definition that defined it as “an outgoing, overtly expressive person.” I’ve been described as an extrovert, but I’ve always thought of myself as an introvert who has the capacity be extroverted.
In high school, I did some theater and was coached on how to annunciate and project my voice. In graduate school, while presenting my thesis, I learned to approach public speaking as performance art. I had to engage people. Keep what I was saying concise and engage them again. It seemed to work, and I enjoyed the social interaction, but it was physically and mentally exhausting. During my twenties, in social settings, I used alcohol to give me a boost, in professional settings, I used sugar and caffeine. In my thirties, I phased out the alcohol. In my forties, I started to reduce the sugar and caffeine. I’m trying to find a middle ground between what I consider to be the naturally introverted me and the artificially extroverted me: the me I want to be.
I did a number of conventions between 2009 and 2015. I got a table in the artist alleys to sell my books and artwork. I got myself in the headspace to do the hard-sell to complete strangers for hours at a time. I had my spiel prepared. I had free cookies on the table. And I tried to make eye contact with everyone walking by to see if I could draw them over to take a look at what I had to sell. I did well at most shows, sales-wise. Some friends would come and help out at the table, but I was always burned out by the end of the day.
I also wanted to network, to make friends in the industry. I met some wonderful people, but my shyness and solitary nature made it hard to connect and maintain those relationships. Maybe I can do better in the future.
Looking back, I think I was off to a good start with my self-publishing in 2015, but then my priorities shifted, both personally and professionally. But I kept writing. And I eventually started drawing again. Now, I’ve got new material to share and I’m looking forward to getting back in the game. I got a table at the Baltimore Comic-Con this October. My wife has been incredibly supportive. There’s a lot to do, but I’m trying to be smarter and more strategic about it. We’ll see what happens.
This collage was made in 2011, to further explore my single-page comic Introvert that was included in Momentos.