Wednesday, August 31, 2011

An INFP Tries to Make a Living

The MN Renaissance Festival is my big show of the year, my only show of the year, the one that pays my bills. Sort of.
My goal every spring is to be so ready for it that I can spend my summer days curled up in the hammock with a stack of comic books until the day arrives when I have to leave for First Weekend. But that's never happened. A more honest scenario goes thusly: Spring and summer both get away from me and I suddenly realize that all is now down to the wire, and 'being ready' will mean working 24/7 until the first Opening Cannon is fired.
Of course, it wouldn't be Fest season without this rush-and-panic. Sometimes I suspect it's even necessary, as the work spent getting ready keeps me from thinking too much.
When I first fantasized about becoming a full-time artist, I imagined myself cocooned in my cozy house, creating whimsical drawings, and -- I don't know what -- telepathically sharing them with people, apparently.... It never occurred to me that most of the work I'd be doing would be non-art-related. Or that a BIG part would involve interacting with people. Why I never thought of this embarrasses me now. Did I really assume those things would take care of themselves?
When it finally dawned on me that being an artist meant selling myself as well as my work, I assumed I'd eventually just get used to it. But I've been doing so now for over 25 years, and if nothing else, interacting with people has gotten more difficult. Even though I haven't a bit of 'actor' in my DNA, I keep telling myself that my game face is a role of sorts, and to wear it I have to get into character. But I have no idea what a confident and extroverted Artist looks or sounds like. However, I do know what it feels like. It feels fake.
I've been told I pull it off -- mostly from folks who only see me once a year standing behind my Festival shop's counter. None of them know me well enough to tell that I'm a quarter cup short of a panic attack.
If you shared a weekend with me at Fest, you'd wonder why I make such a big deal about what it takes to do it, as nothing much happens there than me standing on my feet all day and smiling at people until my face cramps. But I tell you what: Once I'm home again on a Sunday night I have all I can do not to go to bed for the rest of the week. I'm laid up with whole-body inflammation, I swear. Two days of people takes the stance-and-circumpoop right the heck out of me.... 
These days before each weekend now I 'armor up.' I ground and center, I dust off my attitude of gratitude, I thank the Universe for giving me the opportunity to live my life the way I do, as being personally vulnerable and exposing my work to the opinions of others is a small price to pay for this lifestyle and I know it. In comparison, the office job I once endured brought me way more money, certainly, but it also brought more health problems than I knew what to do with. I will never get rich drawing fairies, but it's still a dipped-in-gold improvement. And for that I'm eternally grateful.
I love being a part of Fest. I've always loved it! And I hate that in order to participate I have to gear up for it in spades when I know that, as always, it will prove to be all sorts of rewarding and magickal and amazing.

But for this INFP, it's one of the hardest things I've ever chosen to do.


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