I started selling my artwork via fiverr a few months ago. It was slow at first, but now I regularly get orders. Fiverr gave me the confidence to market my work to others, for prices that are more fair. (Fiverr gets one dollar of every five, meaning it is really fourerr, which is a dumb name. Anyway, at four dollars, anything I create, because I am not super fast unless I’m being messy, I am making at the most 2 dollars an hour. And that is pretty lame.
But I decided, since I wanted more people to order my 2 dollar an hour gigs, that I would offer pencil drawings. I would make them more simple and cartoony than what I usually do, and take much less time.
I’m kind of an idiot.
Cartoony or not, I can’t spend less than 5 hours on a pencil drawing and be satisfied with it. I am still not happy with this final product, and I declared it done only because I was very late in delivering it. But as much as I hate self-praise, it is for sure worth more than 5 dollars.
So here ends my short-lived Fiverr traditional art experiment. The buyer was very nice and understanding about my inability to deliver this on time, so it was a good experience that way.
I have, however, learned more concrete lessons about art pricing. For one, if you price your art too low, no one will want to buy from you. They will think either that they are taking advantage of you, or that there is some secret reason it is priced low (you are stealing it, for instance.) I have yet to find the sweet spot between charging enough that buyers don’t feel bad for you and not charging so much that they laugh at you, but I am inching closer.
I just had a birthday party, which ended up being too big for the space I had it in. That fact kind of shocked me, because I often think of myself as being awkward and not having a lot of friends. When I think about it, though, I do. I have tons of friends. But, I started thinking about why I think of myself that way.
I was an awkward young adult. In my late teens to early twenties, I came out of an extended period of agoraphobia and started interacting with the world. I felt inadequate and weird, and greeted people with the equivalent of “Hi, I’m Meighan. I’ve basically locked myself in my house for the last 5 years, so I’m inadequate and weird. Don’t feel that you have to talk to me.” Surprisingly, that didn’t get me many friends.
When I did somehow make friends, I often tried to get too close too fast, relaxed too much, expected too much. It was hard on me and probably hard on other people.
I’ve encountered many people who start conversations in the same way, and push relationships the same way. Over-sharers. They’re usually not bad people, and it ramps down after awhile. Having done it myself, and knowing the reasons behind it, I know that eventually, when they are more comfortable, interaction with them will be less overwhelming.
Being a recovering over-sharer, though, I realize that I’ve gone too far in the opposite directions in some ways. I keep things to myself, don’t say things that are affectionate unless I’ve known someone for years, don’t call people my friends unless they do so first. I’ve wandered into aloof territory, and since I’m already shy, I sometimes seem stuck up.
So, I’m really trying to examine the idea of boundaries, and what is expected in normal conversation. I feel a little bit silly trying to analyze something that it seems like most people instantly understand, but I think it is necessary. I even have little to-do tasks revolving around small talk:
Introduce myself first.
Talk about a hobby.
Try to find common interests.
Compliment the other person (on something not related to their appearance.)
Go a whole conversation without apologizing.
If someone offers you something, accept it and thank them.
The last one is extremely hard for me, because it is ingrained in me to say no 4 or 5 times before I even accept a drink. I see it as courtesy, but I have noticed others don’t receive it the same way. Apologizing, too, is almost like breathing for me. But it makes others think they are making me uncomfortable.
Another thing I’m doing is examining relationships that aren’t healthy, and ending them. And that is very, very hard. I just told a friend I frankly don’t enjoy being around very much that I think we need some time off. He is a draining person, but he does have some great qualities and frankly I wish I could split him into two people and only get rid of one. But knowing that’s not going to happen, it’s healthier to just stop interacting with him.
I keep thinking of how awful it is to have a friendship end, though. I keep thinking about the fact that he’s alienated a lot of his other friends and I was one of the only ones he had left. But that’s not a reason to hold on, I guess. The funniest thing is, I made the decision to finally say goodbye to him when I realized I snap at almost every thing he says, lately. I realized not liking who he’s become, but trying to deal with it, made me a worse person.
This has taken me a long time. It is a combination of 3 photos, one of which was very small, and some creation and patching together of body parts on a few of the figures. This is my best paying commission to date, which is probably why I stressed over it and it took me a month to finish. (Some of that month was just having crazy anxiety and being unable to figure out what to do.)
The original image is much higher quality, but I suddenly realized putting large, high resolution images of my drawings on the internet might not be the brightest things to do
Quite a few years ago, I strolled into my psychiatrist’s office smiling brightly. I made small talk with everyone in the office, and got quite a few of them smiling too. Someone said loudly that I was a ray of sunshine, and I laughed and smiled and said “of course” cockily. The receptionist was a bit confused- usually I was shy and sometimes weepy- but pretty quickly I got her smiling too.
My psychiatrist watched me interact with others for a few moments before he called me into his office. When I sat down, explaining that I was having a good week, he told me that I was possibly having a hypomanic episode and asked me if I had incidents like this before. I was confused. I wasn’t bipolar. I had depression interrupted a few weeks a year by a period where I was productive and happy and normal. And I’d seen mania before- not only were several members of my family bipolar, I’d received inpatient care quite a few times. Half the people in the hospital with me had been so manic that instead of walking they practically flew. I was nothing like that. I slept a little less, I ate less, I was more chatty, the world seemed pretty simple and suddenly everyone loved me. I wasn’t going 400 miles a minute. I wasn’t staying up all night. I wasn’t having sudden leaps of logic- or not logic- and I wasn’t behaving super impulsively.
The doctor explained bipolar 2 to me, and asked me about times in my life when I’d been what other people considered functional. He suggested something I found mega depressing: the “productive” or “normal” times in my life were actually periods of hypomania. Apparently alternating between being a hermit and being mega-social is a little bit of a red flag. I was also fidgeting and talking faster- something I just thought happened in conjunction with being happy. I was put on a mood stabilizer, and while I didn’t suddenly become sane, I actually did pretty well until my insurance was cut off and I had to find other care.
Starting over with new doctors is always interesting. I have, over the years, been diagnosed with quite a few things. And typically, doctors look at that Bipolar 2 diagnosis, shake their heads, and start over. Then, after a few months of crying and moodiness, when suddenly I’m bouncing off the walls, looking straight at them, being bothered by nothing and proclaiming that I’m just generally awesome, they quietly add Bipolar 2 to my chart. If I’m having a particularly fun time they might add a question mark after the 2.
I woke up today a bit hyper. I say “Woke up” but I don’t think I actually went to sleep. The world seems fun and happy and chill, and strangely enough that makes me nervous. Every time I think I might be manic I know that a bad depression can follow.But…I also know that I’m not really motivated to tell my doctor when I’m manic. Getting help for feeling bad makes sense, but getting help for feeling good is counter intuitive, isn’t it?
If I could be a little manic forever, I’d sign up in under 1.4 seconds. Things are not complex when I’m like this. People are not scary because, not only do I not care what they think, but if I do want them to like me I can easily get them to, at least in that surface way that most people like people they barely know. I crack jokes to strangers when I’m like this, and they laugh. I babble (which is pretty typical of me) but instead of being confused and talking over me, people just listen. When one of the main problems in my life is being social, being like this forever seems like it would be heaven.
I wonder what other people think about Mania. I know it’s not always fun. I’ve had one or two mixed states, which is another thing that makes doctors think I may have full blown bipolar. I would pay money to never experience that again. I feel really bad for people who go through that often.
So yeah, I don’t really know what other people feel about their mood swings. The only other people I’ve talked to about it either don’t acknowledge that they’re bipolar or were undiagnosed for so long they don’t take their meds because they think it’s unnatural to need more than 3 hours sleep a night.