fake your way to female friends as an ambivert girl boss
Solo Girl Chronicles is a new weekly series on the blog. I am opening up the blog to admirable girls I have come across from years of "living" online who surprisingly have a lot more in common with my story, and maybe even yours, of anxiety disorders and social mental blocks than anyone would realize. Sometimes you just a need a chance to share your voice. After that, we all realize how similar we really are, and how no one is alone when it comes to the human experience. If you'd like to share your story about making female friends as an adult, please see my new submissions page here.
I’m going to tell you a little secret: I lie all the time.
There. I said it. Usually, when people ask me about working from home, they ask “Isn’t it hard being by yourself?” And this is where the lying starts to creep in like a silent serpent. I usually end up saying something like, “Well, I’m an ambivert, so it’s really the best of both worlds, because I get to be by myself when I’m creating and then be around people at shows.” Lies. Rose-tinted lies.
I love people. Except when I don’t. I’m the kind of person that needs a friend to physically show up at my house, drag my complaining ass to an event while I'm kicking and screaming; even though once I’m there I have a great time. I have no problem giving an off-the-cuff speech to a crowd of 500, but the thought of “networking” finds me dry heaving in a corner. According to the Myers-Briggs personality test, I’m a straight 50/50 on the extrovert/introvert spectrum.
Yes, I’m an ambivert...and it sucks.
Here’s the truth:
Working in a home studio is tough. There’s the constant distraction of my house - with two elementary school kids and several pets, there’s always something to clean - and the siren song of my bed (wherein I’d be a professional napper if I could). Nearly every time I sit down to work creatively, I get to play this game with myself that I call “Awesome or Awful?” Is this a breakthrough idea? Or does it suck? The line is thin.
Working at home is like being in a huge echo chamber - I have no one to bounce ideas off of; no one who will look over my shoulder and offer helpful criticism. As a result, I’ve had a few ideas crash and burn pretty hard, pretty freakin fast. It’s also challenging because when I’m working in my home office, I crave human interaction. A lot. I try to justify the time I spend on social media as “working on my business,” but the truth is, even though I enjoy the solitude to an extent, I really just want to talk to someone. Like now.
Of course, you have to be careful what you wish for…
While I do have a website, and my jewelry is carried in a few local stores, I do the majority of my selling at art and craft fairs. A craft fair really is like a very, very, long theatre performance - I spend 6-8 hours a day talking to complete strangers. It’s exciting and invigorating, and I love the newness and energy of meeting new people. I also start every show with 24oz black coffee and 800 mg of ibuprofen just to get through it. It’s physically exhausting to put so much of myself out there for a sustained period of time, non-stop, that when I come home, I have to just veg alone for a while (uhhh this is not easy with kids around).
Things do get better, though.
I have discovered that spending one day a week out of my house, working on the parts of my business that don’t require me to be in the studio such as social media, blogging, answering emails, or the dreaded accounting, has made a huge difference. A close friend and I sit down together for a few hours and have a “work date.” Minimal talking, minimal distractions, maximum supportiveness. Now, when I start to play “Awesome or Awful?” I can just look over at her and ask, “What do you think of this?” She’s very in tune to my brand and aesthetic, so I trust her judgement.
I also try to get a friend to go with me to shows. That helps with the logistics (say, bathroom breaks), but also helps when I need to step out of the chaos and just breathe for a minute.
Long story short, whatever your persuasion - extrovert, introvert, ambivert - being a solopreneur doesn’t mean you have to go it alone.