The Garden is not just about pottering about, at one with nature. It's about events, public appearances, networking, knowing people, and all that Putting Yourself Out There stuff. For me it is, in short, terrifying.
Self promotion brings out all my interpersonal awkwardness and trouble judging tone and general insecurities that have built up over three decades of putting my foot in it. The usual weird unworded dance of body language and tone and meaningful silences becomes more difficult by several of the larger orders of magnitude when there's something as important at stake as your career, your reputation or your financial security.
The only thing that's possibly harder is trying to find a romantic partner, and I say "possibly" because it's been quite a few years since I bothered with that so I'm not really in a position to make a comparison. Maybe it's even harder. It isn't for me, but only because I'm not playing that particular game so I don't care about the final score.
The final score that I do worry about is the career one. I know it's not particularly healthy, but for a long time I've hung a very large slab of my identity from my job. I even have an email address "jodiefromtheabc@ etc etc etc", but mainly because my official work email included my surname, which nobody on this fair green earth can spell. (Is now a good time to mention that for many years Centrelink addressed my letters to "Jodie Van"?)
The stuff I'm doing now that I've left work - blogging, art, and writing (I'm working on a weird historical recipe book, in case you haven't seen my endless tweets about it) - are things I really care about and areas in which I want to do well. But success in these fields aren't just about writing a nifty blog, creating good art, or combining the 26 letters of the alphabet together in pleasing ways. It's about networking and promoting yourself and drawing visitors to your blog, selling your art and wooing commissions, attracting the attention of readers and reviewers and critics and publishers.
And I have three problems with that.
The first is that I have no idea how. I don't know how to modify my tone to the perfect pitch of "Hi, I'm friendly, and by the way I have this awesome blog, and I am interested in your stuff and want you to come and be interested in my stuff". I can manage one - "Hi, I'm friendly and your stuff is so cool!" - or the other - "I have this awesome blog. Please read it" - but that blend of the two is really difficult. Most neurotypical people struggle with it. So I feel like I've not so much brought a knife to a gun fight as turned up at a knife fight with a rubber chicken, a cauliflower, and one of those comedy baseball caps with a propeller on top.
The second one is that I'm scared of failure. I'm scared that I'll put my work out there and it'll just topple into the endless void of Shit On The Internet Nobody Cares About and that'll be the end of it.
The third is that I'm kind of scared of success, too. Because that would mean people would actually notice what I write/draw/say, and with that comes the whole terrifying possibility of being told everything I think and believe in and create, everything I am, is rubbish.
So, in closing, please buy my shit.
Image: from Girl pouring tea in a garden, from the State Library of Queensland via Flickr Commons.