I was asked recently how to become better at sales, the poor girl who was asking me had been dragged over to me by her more extroverted friend and then stood back half behind her friend while her friend started up a conversation with me until she was comfortable enough to ask me questions directly. And this is not the first time this has happened.
We live in a world where it is estimated that 6 out of 10 people suffer from some form of anxiety or depression and it’s even worse amongst the Artist/Crafter community because a lot of people with anxiety or depression turn to Art or Crafting as a way to handle their anxiety or to fill their time instead of participating in social interactions. I was recently told by a friend of mine that she gets anxious so she makes jewelry… she has a LOT of jewelry on offer so she is REALLY anxious a lot of the time.
The downside is that because our community has a lot of people who have to deal with those disorders we have a huge population of people trying to sell their product who just cannot cope with the social side of it. And as you would imagine this wreaks merry havoc with their sales. Now I would like to state right now, THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT!
Anxiety and depression are legitimate mental illnesses with profound effects on the people who have to deal with them and if you are one of the thousands suffering I applaud you for even trying to embark on this journey. As I have said before, this is a really hard industry to be in, it is physically, emotionally and mentally exhausting but it is also extremely rewarding so please, if you have anxiety or depression please do not give up. But I also urge you to speak to your therapist before starting this adventure, you will need the support of friends, family and the therapist.
Speaking of support if you have social anxiety but you still want to take on this challenge my suggestion is to talk that one extroverted friend introverts always seem to have. You know the one, s/he is always trying to drag you out to do things. Here’s the perfect opportunity to make that work in your favor for once, get them to help you man the table, make sure they know the prices and any fun or unique back story on the product and let them go until you feel more ready to take it on yourself. It’s called a symbiotic relationship and it can be a wonderful thing!
Now here’s a secret about me that not many people know. I had social anxiety too.
Now I’m not saying Anxiety or depression can be ‘Cured’. I had a weird childhood, my family kept me very isolated as a child and filled my head with how dangerous strangers were and how dangerous the world was and how everyone in it was just waiting to hurt me. So my anxiety was a lack of experience rather than a mental disorder.
What I ended up having to do was build a persona for myself. I was not the Shy, Isolated 18 year old afraid of everything. I was Artemis. Artemis liked people. Artemis liked talking to everyone. Artemis was confident, and poised and ready to explore new places. Artemis was good at taking about her passions. I kept pulling that persona on like a favorite sweater until one day I realized, I was Artemis. I am Artemis. I had spent so long pretending that without realizing it I had made it real.
Just be aware that the longer you pretend to be something the more you actually become it so make sure it’s a persona you like. I firmly believe that this is how so many jerks and assholes get made. And don’t lie about who you are. Don’t fake a tragic backstory or fake a life you don’t actually have. You are building a persona of the you that you could be if you didn’t have anxiety or depression. If you believe that the you without anxiety or depression could go to a panel alone then go for it. If you believe that the you without anxiety or depression could try sushi for the first time then try it! Start small and build up to the bigger stuff like getting on stage or running the booth alone. Baby steps and if you have a set back that’s ok too, just don’t quit.
I’m not saying it’ll work for everyone, I’m not saying it’ll cure your anxiety or depression but it can’t hurt to try right?