Every once in a while I'll meet people who only know me from my book, blog or social media.
I really try to portray myself accurately and authentically in everything I put out there. However, there are confines. I have kids I try desperately not to embarrass. Not to mention, my husband. And I try to preserve some sense of privacy and restraint in a world that thrives on TMI. Luckily, my dogs don't give a crap about any of this and they love me unconditionally, provided that I feed, walk, pet and share my nightly popcorn with them.
The thing is, no matter how much you put out there for the world to see (or don't), you can never be sure what impression people have of you. Because ultimately you have no control over how someone perceives you. And how someone sees you usually has more to do with them than with you anyway.
So, with people who only know me through my writing, I'm always a bit nervous to meet them. First, because I'm socially anxious, so I always feel this way about any social interaction. Second, because I don't want to be a big, gaping, letdown. About a year ago, I was invited to a small, intimate get together by a woman who'd read my book. At the end of a truly lovely evening, she told me she'd wondered if I'd be funny in person or not. And then I had that "oh shit" moment and I had to mentally run through everything I said. Please, tell me I said something funny tonight so I didn't disappoint her. I can actually be funny in person. But the truth is, I'm really quite serious too. Most of all though, when I'm in a group of people, I don't want to be the center of attention. I'm much more comfortable one on one.
Because I'm an introvert's introvert.
When I hear things like, but you don't seem like an introvert in your writing, I'm happy to hear it. But, please know, when I'm writing I'm completely alone. I'm not standing in a kitchen trying to make conversation with someone I've never met before with cilantro stuck between my teeth while juggling a paper plate of food and a stemmed wine glass I have nowhere to put down. I mean, I probably have cilantro in my teeth at home too, because I love it. But, who cares? I'm alone. And I'm at my most comfortable when home alone. Unless I have workmen in my house repairing the damage from my overflowing toilet going on two and a half months now. Then, I'm at home, but completely uncomfortable. The only thing worse than being at a party trying to make small talk is trying to make small talk in your own home with uninvited guests. That or trying to pretend that my house is usually clean. I admit right now, my house is never clean. Ever.
Anyway, skip to yesterday, when I met someone I've followed on social media for the first time one on one. And he turned out to be exactly the way I imagined him to be. And he said the same of me. Which is the highest compliment and best first impression to make with a new friend. After all, we all just want to be seen for exactly who we are, only way better.