For most of my life, I’ve thought of myself as a social butterfly. I’m thankful that I have always made friends pretty easily, and after a little bit of understandable anxiety in new situations (say, at a party or conference full of people I don’t know), I tend to acclimate quickly and get to know folks whom I’m comfortable talking with.
Owning a busy bookstore is a great career choice for a person like me. I love my career at Avid Bookshop—I am working harder than I ever dreamt possible, but I’m never bored and I look forward to putting in hours each day. For that and many other reasons I consider myself very fortunate. I’m also grateful for an awesome staff and wonderful customers, all of whom are fun to talk to. For this bookworm, talking about books all day really is a career wish come true.
I used to spend much more time alone (physically and virtually—I’ll explain that in a sec). In the years before I opened the bookstore, I had a few part-time jobs, but I still had a LOT of time to be at my house by myself. Even after I met Jim in 2006, I didn’t have a full-time job. I checked Myspace now and again, but I didn’t have as strong a connection (read: addiction) to that as I do to Facebook, meaning I didn’t socialize on social media for as much time as I do now. And my main part-time job working as an editor was one I did long-distance—I got perhaps one or two emails a week from my supervisors. Other than that, I worked solo with little interaction.
Owning and operating a retail shop is a horse of a different color. When I’m in the shop, I’m always talking to people, whether it be the UPS guys or a bunch of customers or my employees. (To be clear: I LOVE this part of the job.) When I work from my home office or when I’m in the store and it’s empty, I’m posting on our social media pages and/or writing emails to customers, publishers, and employees. I may be physically alone, but I’m almost constantly interacting.
Is it any wonder that I am socially exhausted at the end of the day? My sister asks me to go out with her at least once a week, and I usually have to say no. Why? Because after endless days of talking to people and being social, I simply can’t imagine not going home to recuperate. Sure, I’ll go for a walk with her, but a party where I need to properly socialize and be a good conversationalist is out of the question. The way my work life is set up now means I am just spent at the end of the day and need time for myself.
This change in lifestyle has altered my life tremendously. I talk to WAY more people than I used to, and I’m very happy with my life. But mostly gone are the days I would go out and about multiple nights a week, either for dinner or drinks or both. I have noticed that when I overdo my social time and don’t give myself enough alone time, I find myself much more stressed out and more prone to migraine episodes. Turns out even the relatively extroverted Migraine Girl needs a good deal of quiet time to keep stress levels down.
How do you maintain your stress levels in regards to work and social life? How do you decide which get-together invitations to accept and which to politely deny? How important is alone time for you in your self-care regarding migraine?