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JessicaPetersonArt.com

I guess today I want to open up a little more about overcoming “issues” as an author and owner of a company who must be in spotlight.

When I first began writing, my biggest fear was having to meet people and having my life be on display. As an author, you make yourself vulnerable to a lot of things. The first thing you are exposed to is the obvious: Reviews. A bad review is like someone walking up to your newborn child and pointing out all the flaws she/he has. It’s natural to become (violently) protective and defensive.

The best advice I learned was to ignore it. Reviews are not for authors, they are for readers. Be happy they read the book and are talking about it.

I know this isn’t easy. Honestly? Veteran authors are still learning to deal with this every day. You aren’t a special case. We’ve all had them. Yes, even Stephen King.

The second thing I had to come face to face with is being social. Yikes. I am not a social creature. I like my cocoon (room for one, thank you) and I suffer from social anxiety. Let me be real and say, I feel awkward and exposed. While most people are laughing and having a good time, I’m wondering how I sound, if I said the right words, did I come off too boastful? Did I sound like a salesperson? Was there salad in my teeth? Was my hair a mess? Did I have resting bitch face on?

I could go on. Trust me. For days, even.

I got over this by having a support person with me. At first it was a friend or family member who I felt comfortable with, and then I got to know some colleagues who would attend the same events. Having a friendly face nearby who I could gravitate to did wonders for letting me cut loose a little. I also always have someone with me to watch the table so I can walk away and hide for a minute in order to avoid a full blown panic attack. Yes, the Darque Queen needs quiet moments alone. I don’t always enjoy the spotlight. In fact, it can make me debate whether to fabricate some rare, fatal virus to avoid it. I’m happier pushing others forward while I hang out and cheer from the sidelines.

The other way I got over it? I created the Darque Queen! She’s a character, or a mask, if you will. I wear the role and become her when I need to, then take the crown off and go back to being “me”.

Another get real fact? I need at least 48 hours to recover from public/social events. Weekend events take even longer. It drains me both physically, and emotionally.

Crowds? Forget it. My body is in a constant state of alert, my heart-rate is elevated, and I have to drop my instinct to throat punch anyone who gets too close while brushing my shoulder to get to a table.

Finally, and definitely not the least of all of these things: Bipolar. One of my colleagues asked me what kind as we discussed it-while at a convention-and I was still in it and completely misunderstood what he was asking!  derp!

I’m rapid cycling, which means I can go from zero to holy-psycho-bitch-off-her-ever-lovin-meds faster than you can blink. But in a silent way (which scares a lot of people). Most won’t even see it coming or going. Listen, I have to be professional. I also represent a lot of other people. I can’t let things like issues take over. Worst of all, I can’t let it take over in public. Depression is like wearing a spacesuit. You look out through the glass bubble helmet, words are blurred and distant, you can’t touch anything or feel it, and you’re floating in space a million miles away from everyone. You want to engage. You want to feel human again, but humanity is a million miles away. It’s safer to float in quiet orbit, watching it all like a movie crawl across your peripherals, than to discard the suit and risk … well, dying.

In the last 3 months, I’ve done more socializing, more public speaking, and more events than ever in my whole life. I’m getting stronger, but I know the core of who I am won’t always be. It takes practice, and it takes being a little forgiving of your own flaws. It also means using your middle finger once in awhile. If the crowd can’t treat you like a human, elbow check them in the face. Professionally, of course.

If this has helped you, don’t be afraid to comment and let me know. If there are ways you deal with it, share them. Someone else will be grateful from space.

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