The Introvert’s Guide to Dealing with People

Today is my first day off after working sixty hours in eight days. I aimed to spend today in the traditional way–in my pajamas–but sadly, the A/C blew last night, so I have to put on pants in order to deal with the repair guy.

I‘m an introvert in the classic sense: I can handle being around people, and sometimes I even enjoy it, but if I don’t get enough alone time to recharge, I am miserable. Unfortunately, my Day Job is not one that provides a set schedule, so this week I opened, closed, opened, closed, worked a mid, closed, and then opened. In addition that just being batshit insane, we also had the joys of Independence Day Weekend, which means the stupidity was out in additional force.

Seriously, I answered the phone only to be asked if the store was open. Multiple times. No, I’m just here, alone, answer phones because it’s my greatest pleasure in life.

As a result, I royally sucked at writing. I brought my laptop every day to work on break, I edged in a few words before my shift and after, even dead on my feet. I only made my goal once this week. I knew that making full-time meant writing would be harder, but this level of exhaustion is ridiculous.

I can go five, maybe six days dealing with people before the giga-sass levels rise beyond reasonable control. Luckily, I’ve come up with a way to deal with having to deal with people.

  1. If you smile hard enough and say everything like a Disney prince/princess, people won’t see the rage burning in your eyes. Conceal, don’t feel.
  2. Play a mental game of Search and Destory. Is that customer continuously whistling at a high pitch without regard to the 154 other people in the store? Imagine the pitches he could reach if confronted by a piranha.
  3. Keep a pen and paper handy for subconscious doodling. What? That’s not a noose at all. I’m totally a people person.

Okay, okay, I’m kidding (sort of.) I have employed the first one, but usually I fail at the subterfuge and get in trouble for being too sassy. I also draw on anything I can get my hands on. It’s tough to rake in enough isolation time when you’re constantly being spoken (read: yelled) at, answer phones, helping coworkers, keeping the store clean and well swept, and trying not to dissolve into homicidal rage.

Here’s some real advice:

  1. Try to carve out time for yourself and just be, quietly. I spend all day dealing with people, then come home to deal with my mother and sister. Those precious hours mom’s at work and my sister is lounging in her room are GOLD. You don’t have to do anything: write, draw, marathon The 10th Kingdom. Do whatever helps you cultivate the energy you need.
  2. I am a firm believer in escapism.Writing is my out, whether I’m thinking about a scene or I’m play-acting as a character. I let myself wander the space in my head. I think about costumes or makeup or what I’ll need for DragonCon. I have a collection of other-name nametags for when I just don’t want to be Meghan. I spent last week as Lydia, and it was pretty nice.
  3. When things don’t go as planned, plan different things. Like I said, I was really jonesing for a pajama day, but it’s just not happening. Instead, a took a nice shower this morning, not worried about being anywhere. I did a conditioning treatment on my hair, I used my favorite soap, I gave myself an awesome leg message. Let me tell you, there are few things better than a leg wrap. Cat and I had it done last time we went for pedicures and you don’t realize how much tension you hold in your legs until you’re mummified in a towel. I even put on lotion. I hate lotion, but now I feel and smell nice.
  4. Try not to stress about things you can’t control. Do what you can. I didn’t have a choice about the sixty-hour week. Did I do my best? No, but I did something, even if it was only 100 words. Acknowledging and honoring how I felt was part of my personal care. If I was too exhausted to write, I didn’t force it. I went to bed. I fell asleep to audio of a guy drawing mandalas in chalk. I grabbed a bag of M&Ms because I wanted one. I’m doing little things around the house and I’m taking my off day slowly, bit by bit.

The important thing for me is that I recharge. I only have some much energy I can use before I shut down, and my weeks are demanding between work, writing, and being a taxi. Do the things you know will revitalize you. Don’t feel guilty for turning people down, for saying no, or for taking time for yourself. You need it. I need it.

I’m going to finish this chapter, hopefully see the repair guy on his way, and head out to begin building my costumes. The only way out is through, the only way through is art.

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