Friday, September 11, 2009

Dear Harrisburg: I'm not a snob. I promise.

I just got done reading this book, and... wow.
So I'll write a post about it, in case there is anyone else out there with these same symptoms who may also find it useful!

I was recently in a Fed Ex store in Florida (and didn't even almost get arrested this time. Nice). They had a selection of business related books in there and I've been dying for something new to read. I picked up this book initially thinking, from the title, that it was about Fine Art! I thought it was a book about selling your own art... (can you tell I've been preoccupied lately?) I glanced at it again and realized that's not at all what the book was about, but figured it would be a perfect investment anyway. I just did the Kipona show last week and realized I need to have more things to say to people who come into my booth other than "How are you?", "Are you a fan of flowers or a fan of bugs?", or "Where are you from?"
Nothing is wrong with any of those things, but after the person answers, I don't want to bother them any more... so I quit talking. There are plenty of times when no more than a quick and friendly greeting is needed, but I hate being SO nervous around strangers. I completely clam up. I ask a question, they respond. Then what? It just doesn't come naturally to me most of the time. A lot of times people are just at art shows to look, not talk, and it comes across in their body language. I'm always a little relieved by those people- makes my job easy! :)
But for those who want to spend a few minutes looking at my paintings or being social... I've just not had much to offer unless they are the ones asking me the questions.

As soon as I started reading this book, I realized it described me perfectly. I had no idea that my social anxiety was so common. I just figured I sucked at making friends. I never had any problems with that before I moved, though, so thought maybe it had something to do with the area- or the fact that I haven't moved to a place where I knew NO one since college.
Do I dread going into functions where I may not know anyone, or only one person? YES.
Do I shut down in conversations with people because I'm sure they won't find me or what I have to say very intersting? DEFINITELY.
Do I have an easy time going up to complete strangers and starting a conversation? Oh, HELLLLLL NO.
Plus the germophobe in me hates shaking hands- at least if there is food at the event.

"The Fine Art of Small Talk" book enlightened me that often, when people tend to shy away from others or quickly exit conversations to go off and hide somewhere, it can come across as not being interested- or just being a snob.
I always sort of figured that by leaving a conversation, I was doing the other person a favor! Sort of like, "I'm not that interesting. Really, I promise. Let me just skeedaddle before you figure that out for yourself, so you can go spend your time chatting with someone much more worthwhile, mmmkay?"

No wonder I've lived here for almost a year now and have no friends with whom I hang out on a regular basis- socially- on purpose.

Harrisburg, I'm so sorry.
I didn't mean to come across as a snob-
I like it here, and I like the people I've met.
Will you let me make it up to you?


From now on, I'll do my share of work in a conversation. I will even make efforts to start conversations! I will answer questions with more than a one word answer, because maybe the person asking is actually interested in what I have to say. I won't run and hide if someone seems to want to talk to me for more than 2 minutes.
These are just some of the points I remember from the book, but it expands on how to do each one in a lot of detail- so I'm sure I'll be reading it at least a few more times.


Doris Sturm said...

Well, I'm gald you are getting something out of the book. I, for one, never thought you were a snob because we always communicated well, but that's e-mailing, so I'm sure there's a difference.

I'm the total opposite, nobody is a stranger to me and sometimes the stranger, the better ;-) But then, I'm sort of a weird-O and nobody intimidates me. They may piss me off, but that's another story.

Nice to hear from you again. I missed you, Sam. I've been blogging my little ole heart out and no sign of Samantha....

Samantha G said...

Doris I'm sorry you hadn't heard from me- I had an art show over Labor day weekend and then went out of town for a few days with NO internet access... Would it really kill hotels to start offering that again??

Anonymous said...

I loved this post, and can relate!! (Wish we lived on the same continent and so could meet for coffee!! I absolutely love the painted hydrant, wow!