WHAT?! is Drooly Dog’s Advice Column for the Creative and Perplexed. In which I answer burning questions about the creative process and what might be holding up that brain of yours. Send your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear Drooly Dog: I am a performer, so I am on stage a lot in front of tons of people. I love it there. But when I get off the stage, I am an introvert. People don’t seem to understand this; they assume all performers love crowds of people. They resent it when I don’t wade into the lobby and shake everyone’s hand. And in auditions or workshops, I tend to fade into the background because I’m not loud or attention-grabbing. That means I can get ignored easily while others are reaping the benefits. How can I pursue what I love without alienating people or getting run over?
Sincerely, Quiet Riot
Boy do I understand this one. See, introverts don’t dislike people; they are just energized by ideas and alone time. So time out there with people is where they expend their energy, not gain it. Extroverts are the opposite, so they get energy from people. It’s a key difference. For me, it’s a balance – I need my time to make stuff and pursue ideas, and then I gotta go share. And then go back to the cave with my metal music on.
I’m sure you’re aware there are a ton of introverted musicians and actors. A TON. Being on stage is not a crowd or a cocktail party. It’s a structured, carefully created wondrous performance with a live element as part of it. Not the same at all.
So how do you deal with the visibility of the stage, but the seeming invisibility of being quiet (or not there) in group situations?
Your job is to find a few people and create good one-on-one relationships. Particularly with directors, people who book venues, fellow artists, and yes, a few fans. That’s where you shine. So when you’re in the loud group situation, you’re already acquainted with people there and can talk to them before and after. Let them get to know you. Reach out, a little at a time.
Look, our society gets overly hyped over people who are loud and extreme. And it can seem like they get all the attention and reward. But respect transcends that. A director will talk to people she knows and trusts first. A face-to-face conversation, a phone call, you remembering someone’s favorite chocolate dessert, that stuff is beautiful and real.
So don’t despair, but do get in the habit of conversing with people you respect and who can help you get better at what you do. Get interested in them as people. Drop them a line, stop by and visit. And at your next workshop or party, go talk with them over on the side. Maybe you’ll even enjoy it.
And please keep getting on that stage. The world needs you.
Drooly Dog offers creative advice only. Nothing legal or medical, please follow of your own accord. It’s up to you, man.
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