Confident Beginnings

Confidence is a tricky thing, isn’t it? Like Goldilocks people can have too little or too much. Either ends of the scale are limiting and not particularly attractive but getting it just right? That’s the hard bit.

Milk
Colin’s Fridge and The Three Milks by Alasdair courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/zCANY https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I recently watched a documentary where psychologists were monitoring young children in a play and school environment. Two children stood out and seemed to strike up what, on the face of it, was an unlikely friendship. One was overconfident, a thrill seeker who sought out danger and constantly pushed boundaries. The other was a boy who excelled at maths but who was generally frightened by life and shied away from anything he perceived as dangerous. These two boys, despite their obvious differences in personality, seemed to gel.

Friendship
Friendship by Tomvdh1 courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-ND 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/6zvfWy https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

When the psychologists put up ‘Danger – Keep Out’ signs and taped off one of the children’s favourite pieces of play apparatus – a play house reached by a ladder – the thrill seeker immediately wanted to investigate and go into the play house to see what the danger was. The nervous child hung back. So upset at the prospect of his friend doing something that was forbidden, the nervous boy told him that two adults were coming his way, even though no adults were in the area. The thrill seeker reluctantly left the equipment alone and the nervous boy had, in his eyes, protected his friend from danger. One had regulated the other’s actions.

Yin and yang
Yin and Yang by Rolf Dietrich Brecher courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/Xpv3X1 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Later, these same boys were confronted with a tarantula spider in a case. When the handler asked if the children would like to hold the spider, the thrill seeker was one of the first to put up his hand. The nervous boy, seated next to him, had already professed a fear of spiders. He hung back and moved away but was still fascinated enough to watch his friend handle the spider and allow her to walk over the back of his hand.

A few minutes later after another couple of children had handled the spider, the nervous boy asked if he too could have a go. At first, he was still too scared to hold his hands flat on the table to allow the spider to crawl over them and was seeking assurance from the handler that the spider would not bite or claw him. Once that assurance had been given, he had a go. Wonderfully, his thrill seeker buddy put his hand flat on the table first and the nervous boy put his on top of his friend’s and the spider then walked over both of their hands.

The nervous boy was delighted that he had faced and conquered a fear and the thrill seeker was pleased that he had coaxed his friend to try something new.

Though very different I could imagine this unlikely pair growing up to be firm friends for life. Operating at either extreme of the confidence scale, you could see how they could help to pull each other further into the middle ground of ‘just right’ thus enriching each other’s lives immensely.

friendship2
Friendship by Alex Isse Neutron courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by Public Domain 1.0 https://flic.kr/p/CwP7Zz https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/

For those of us who do not have a friend at the other end of the confidence scale to help push, guide or protect us, we have to learn the hard way by life’s experiences. That’s why older people are a lot less bothered what others think of them than their younger counterparts. They have learned that in the grand scheme of things it really doesn’t matter all that much.

Confident beginnings are wonderful but for the rest of us it’s not where you start but where you finish that’s important.

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Refilling the Well Part Two

Earlier this week I blogged about the need to refill the well without apology if you are an introvert i.e. factoring in down time after every social engagement to allow yourself a chance to recover. From a writing perspective this is crucial too. A lot of writers are introverts. We spend the majority of our days in solitude typing away on our keyboards living in fantasy worlds of our own construction. It is important to have some interaction with the outside world, of course, but we don’t feel as though we are missing out if we are not at every party or social gathering.

Party
Party by Eric McGregor courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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That’s all well and good but what happens when your book is written and it’s time to get the word out? Suddenly the introvert has to become, to a greater or lesser degree, an extrovert whether they like it or not.

I have found myself in that situation a lot this summer as I have been hand selling my book at various craft fairs or summer fetes. It is not something I would choose to do for fun. But this year for me (my first of publication) is all about trying different things and seeing what works.

The idea of being ‘up’ for a social engagement of several hours, interacting with the public throughout and basically being ‘on duty’ does not exactly gladden my heart. Leaving aside the practicalities of whether the event is a success from a selling point of view (a mixed bag on that front) or whether spending the time in my study writing would have been more productive (quite possibly), the simple act of being ‘on duty’ for any length of time in a social situation is exhausting for an introvert like me.

Exhaustion
Exhaustion by Jessica Cross courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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As writers who wish to sell books we have to be prepared to push ourselves out there. No one else is going to do it for us. Even the superstars have to do their fair share of marketing, the only difference is they have a team to organise it, the writer still has to do it. For the rest of us, we are our own teams.

The internet and social media have allowed introverts to project themselves into the wider world from the comfort of home but not everything can be done through a computer screen. Sometimes, showing up in person is the only way. Writers who are introverts need to work out how much face to face contact they can take on. Be realistic. Just because you should be doing all these things because someone else who is successful told you you should does not mean that you will be able to handle it. We are all different. Know your limitations and work within them. If you attempt to suppress your nature by trying to be all things to all people you will crash and burn, it’s a question of when not if.

Burn out
Burn out by Paul Sableman courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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The world won’t stop turning if you attend three events instead of four but taking your introverted nature into account when planning your marketing strategy may make all the difference between success and failure. Better to succeed on your own terms and enjoy the experience than spread yourself too thinly. If you go for the full on option and pretend like you are an extrovert you may still achieve success but at what cost? My guess is you’ll be miserable and exhausted and that, for me, is too high a price to pay.

 

As you will be aware if you read my post from earlier this week the cover of my book The Flower Seller is taking part in Author Shout’s Cover Wars this week 24th July – 30th July. As I type this I am currently in the lead but only by 7 votes! If you like the cover and would like to vote you can do so by visiting the Author Shout site http://authorshout.com/cover-wars/ You will need to like their Facebook page, tweet or G+ them and then you are able to vote for your favourite cover BUT you must only vote once in every 24 hour period of your vote will not count.

If you are already voting for the cover of The Flower Seller – and I know a lot of you are – thank you so much! #goteamellie!

The Flower Seller Cover and Blurb
Have love and loyalty gone out of fashion? The Flower Seller by Ellie Holmes available from Amazon now https://goo.gl/KFi7kw

Refill the well

So here’s the thing, I’m an introvert. You may be one as well. Chances are if you’re not you are probably sitting near one right now. There are a lot of us about. More than you think, probably because a lot of the time we hide our introverted natures behind a carefully constructed extroverted mask.

Mask2
Mask by Muffinn courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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Why do we feel the need to do that? Probably because we fear judgment. We fear being singled out as being a bit odd. You want to leave the party early and be home in your jim jams on the sofa? Why, are you sick? No, I’m an introvert and I need a break from all these people. Okay?

Quiet time
How not to manage an introvert? By Nguyen Hung Vu courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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Being introverted is a bit like being a geek (and there are a lot of those out there too!). We’re a source of wry amusement to those who think and feel differently.

I happen to believe being a geek is cool and so it being an introvert. I have accepted that if I am going to be going to a social event, even one I am looking forward to, I am going to find it draining and I am going to need some serious down time afterwards to refill the well. I have learnt the hard way that scheduling too many social commitments in too short a time period is going to lead to last minute cancellations on my part (which is something I hate doing) or exhaustion.

I can be as bright and bubbly in company as the next person if my energy levels are up. If not, forget it. So, over the years I have learned to pace myself. Whenever I take on a social engagement I always weigh up how long I’m going to be there for and schedule down time immediately afterwards and perhaps even the next day too if the social event is lengthy and particularly taxing.

Introverts
Introverts by Seaternity courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0

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Extroverts will struggle to understand this. Extroverts thrive off the social interaction. To them attending party after party is like plugging themselves into the grid and firing up. With introverts it is the polar opposite. Situations that fire up the extroverts will nine times out of ten drain the introverts.

If you are, like me, an introvert then embrace it. Don’ try to be something you are not. Trying to keep up with the extroverts in your life will not end well. Trust me, I know!

Listen to your body and if you need to refill the well then do so – without apology. We all love time in our PJs on the sofa watching bad TV or in solitude reading a good book. As introverts we just need more of it, that’s all.

Introvets unitejpg
Introverts unite by Joe Wolf courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-ND 2.0

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The cover of The Flower Seller is taking part in Author Shout’s Cover Wars during the week of 24th July 2016 – 30th July 2016. If you like the cover I would be thrilled if you would show your support by voting for it. To vote you need to click on the link below, click to like the Author Shout facebook page, tweet, or link through Google+   You can vote once every 24 hours. Thank you!

http://authorshout.com/cover-wars/

The Flower Seller Cover and Blurb
Have love and loyalty gone out of fashion? The Flower Seller by Ellie Holmes available from Amazon now https://goo.gl/KFi7kw