I turn 28 later this month. I'm not quite sure how to feel about that--it seems like such a short time ago that I walked up the aisle at my high school graduation clutching a stick of Halls cough drops in one fist since my gown didn't have pockets. (I was trying very hard not to die of walking pneumonia, with which I had recently been diagnosed. I spent the commencement ceremony sitting in the front row with the other 19 top-of-the-class students, discreetly popping said cough drops into my mouth and littering the floor with the wrappers since, again, the gown didn't have pockets.)
(Seriously, why couldn't they have had pockets?)
So much has happened in the ten years since then. I started college, changed my major, got dumped, met a new guy, married him, published my first novel, graduated college, published another few novels, adopted three cats, and ate an alarming amount of burritos.
I've also changed, because that's what people do when faced with new experiences.
The biggest change of all, I think, is this pesky little thing called Social Anxiety.
As an author, I have to promote my work to readers. The most effective way I have found to do this is to set up book signings so potential readers get to see my books in person. Cold calling stores to see if I could have events there was terrifying, like approaching a pack of hungry tigers. In fact, using the phone to call anyone I didn't know felt like that.
The one thing I've learned about fears is that in order to overcome them, you have to face them--not just once, but repeatedly. Since I've been published, I've had at least 100 author events including book signings and speaking events at libraries. I have to actually TALK to people, and while at first it scared me, I've found that I enjoy it. During my travels from event to event I've met an entire spectrum of people who tell me their own stories, and my life would be far dimmer if I hadn't ventured outdoors and met them.
For example, if I'd never had any book signings...
I wouldn't have met the man from Cameroon who said he used to write articles explaining to the people of his country that volcanic eruptions are caused from science-y stuff and not angry volcano gods.
I wouldn't have met the woman with MS who had a dog fastened into a baby's car seat, which she pulled in a cart behind her scooter. (Both woman and dog were quite friendly!)
I wouldn't have met the man who used to see UFOs out in the desert,
I wouldn't have met the woman who visited Edgar Allan Poe's grave, and showed me pictures.
I wouldn't have met the woman who called the police during a paranormal investigation because she and the rest of her group heard gunfire and shouting upstairs. The police arrived to find nothing--the sounds had simply been the ghostly echo of some bygone crime.
I wouldn't have met the man who told me that people have randomly attacked him his entire life, for no reason.
I wouldn't have met the other authors who, taking inspiration from me, went on to set up book signings of their own.
If you're an introvert like I am, you might be squirming at some of what I've said. But you know what? Try to do what scares you. You might find out you love it.
What about you? Have you faced your fears? How did you go about doing it?