I was very happy to see that my post of tips for introverts attending Book Expo America was pleasing! Today, the day before I leave for New York, I thought that I would write a post about the introvert's perspective on leaving home to go to BEA, and how to make this a happier thing. This one is, even more so than the first, written for my own peace of mind, because I found it soothing (although I am not entirely sure how tongue in cheek I am being).
From my own experience, it's very easy to happily sign up to go to large exciting events (like BEA), but then, as the day approaches on which you will actually leave home, it becomes all too clear that it was Bad Idea. The safety and comfort of home is never so dear to the introvert as it is on the day before she has to leave it, especially if she is going somewhere new and strange filled with lots of people.
But a stressed introvert is one who is burning through her precious emotional reserves before she even leaves home. This is not good.
Issue #1: Denial
-- The introvert might expend great quantities of energy in a desperate attempt to deny the fact that she is actually going away the next day.
Relax. Tempting though it might be, don't try to start a major renovation project in your house. It will still be there when you come back. Instead of deciding that you must clean out the insides of your cupboards, either do soothing tasks--like dusting your books, which will bring back happy memories, and remind you of why you are going to BEA in the first place, or do tasks that provide quick gratification--tidy up the place next to the door where the mail gets dumped.
-- if you are both a procrastinator and an introvert, you might also put off packing, because once you've packed, you no longer have days and days in which to quietly putter around your house and it is Undeniable that you really are leaving home.
Don't fall into this trap, tempting though it is. Allow the process of packing to soothe you by focusing on the really interesting question of what book you will take to read on the bus/train/plane that will a. hold your interest satisfactorily b. be one you will not mind leaving behind once you get there.
Don't look on packing clothes as something tedious. Introverts sometimes worry that no one will care about them. Demonstrate to yourself that you, at least, care, by taking the time to make sure that you are not packing one of the (many) black tee shirts that has white paint paint on it. Important: Find your party shoes today, not half an hour before you need to leave. If you are an introvert, you might not have worn your party shoes for a year or so, and you may well have no clue where you carefully put them (the top shelves of the closets all have books on them, so at least I know where not to look). Once you have managed to find them successfully (d.v.), you will have a boost of self-esteem.
Issue #2-- Social Anxiety
You may well be fretting about socializing, and you may well be utterly sick of fretting about socializing, and be finding it all very tedious. So stop. Now.
--make a list today of the people that you know already who will be there, and who you are really pretty sure will be glad to see you. Email these people today, if you haven't already (I've actually done this!). Get their cell phone numbers (if you are me, consider going out to actually buy a cell phone today). Even if this list has only two people on it, you now have something tangible with which to bolster your social courage.
--remember that you are going because there are people you have been wanting to meet in real life for ages! It might help to find pictures of these people, so that you can get some sense of what they look like--you can then start to imagine talking to them, and you might be able to recognize them.
--tell yourself to just grow up and get over it. Adopting this sort of tough persona is useful not just mentally, but physically--if you hold yourself in a confident way, you will actually feel more confident. And if you are thinking hard about your posture, you will have less room in your head for other, more weakening, thoughts.
--stop over thinking it all, for crying out loud, and just go have fun!
sigh (although I do actually feel better now myself, which is all to the good!)