Spending Time At the Surface

I spent the weekend at the Craft and Hobby Association’s Trade Show at Anaheim, CA. I’ve been going to this show for about six years now. In the beginning, I went with my friend Michelle as one of her design team members and then, for the last few years, I’ve been going with Maya Road so I can help them out during the show. Since I have a job and the show is during the week, I only tend to go for about 36 hours.

The interesting thing about the show, for me, is that I always look forward to going and then after the first day, I always look forward to coming home. At the end of a full show day, I often feel drained, overwhelmed and worn out. So 36 hours is just about the right amount of time for me. I need to go home and recharge.

Which is odd because if you meet me in person, you’ll quickly notice that I talk a lot.

A lot.

Quickly, nonstop, a lot, and animatedly. I am Mediterranean after all.

So most people make the assumption that I am extroverted. I’ve come to understand that while, in certain situations, I am not shy (though in others I am that, too), I am most certainly introverted. And the show is the opposite of that. You end up running into a ton of people you know, mostly from online communities. You each have only a few seconds so you have brief, ephemeral conversations. You might feel genuine, deep emotion for this person but there’s no time or chance to express it. And this happens all day long. There’s a ton of talking in groups and not a lot of content.

Exactly the opposite of what I like.

I’ve come to learn that I exclusively prefer tete-a-tete conversations. Even three people are too many for me. I find that the depth of genuineness is unparalleled when it’s just the two of you. When there’s no one to act for, no one to worry about, no one to look good for. You might not be able to achieve the deep connection even then but the only chance you have at it is when it’s just the two of you. This is strictly my opinion, of course.

So, for me, this show is a bit like torture because there are a lot of people whom I’d love to finally be able to sit down with and have a face to face conversation with but neither of us have the time for it. So it always ends up withering down to snippets of conversations that leave me even more unfulfilled than if I’d had nothing.

I often find that I come home with a sense of emptiness. A sense of missed opportunity. I often wish there were more one-on-one conversations and more time to deeply connect.

That’s the thing for me. I crave the deep connection. Everything else just eats at my soul and leaves me worn out. And the convention is rarely the setting for authentic connection.

This is not to say there isn’t anything good about the show, of course. I do get to hug the people I love and see their pretty faces. I get to express my gratitude in person. I get to see and touch wonderful new product. All of these things are great.

I just wish I could magically create the opportunity to make this rare occasion work more profoundly for me.

5 comments to Spending Time At the Surface

  • Cristina

    I agree with you 100%

  • I completely relate to what you are saying. Trade shows and conferences exhaust me. I am introverted and prefer small groups with deeper conversations as well. We should design trade shows like an art gallery, quiet, lots of space and plenty of time to talk and learn. For some reason, I doubt that would be profitable/successful, but a girl can dream.

  • TXMess

    I know exactly what you mean.

  • dawn

    I have never been to something like this but already know this is how I would feel also.

    This is how I feel when my daughter comes for a week from college. We have missed each other so much but she has to squeeze in her doctor appts. outing with friends, family and errands in this short time. By the time it’s over I don’t feel like we connected at all and it’s hard to let go and wait for the next visit. Hoping one day we can have one/one away from everything and everybody else and catch up.

  • I know exactly what you mean. I always come away from big social events feeling empty like that – some people perhaps enjoy that type of rather meaningless, superficial interaction the most but certainly not me, although I would give my eye-teeth to get to CHA – it’s on my bucket list – would be one pricey airfare 🙂

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