The Introvert PerformerTuesday, 10th January, 2017
When I tell people that I consider myself to be an introvert, many of them are surprised. They often respond with something along the lines of “but you perform on stage so how can you be an introvert?”
I guess that comes down to a common misconception that all introverts hate being in the spotlight and socialising. While I guess that can be the case for some introverts, a lot of us simply have a limit to how much socialising and being around people we can do before we need to go off somewhere quiet and solitary to recharge our batteries. Whereas extroverts tend to gain energy from being in social situations, introverts tend to feel drained from social situations even when they’re really enjoying themselves and I do find that happens to me.
For as long as I can remember, singing and creating music has been a compulsion, something as natural and necessary to me as breathing. I can’t not create music except when I am in the deepest pits of despair (then I can’t do anything musical). The joy of sharing my songs and music, and seeing the connection with and recognition in the faces of people listening, has been with me for almost as long. There is something beautiful in sharing music with others and knowing you’ve done a good job because people want to come up afterwards and chat to you.
I do enjoy speaking to people after a gig, to find out what they enjoyed and what connections they made with the music. Quite often, though, I need to fade into the background for 5-10 minutes after coming off stage so I can recharge the batteries I have all but spent in giving a lot of my heart, soul and energy to the performance. After the mini-recharge I’m likely to seem less bunny-in-headlights when talking to lovely people who come up to me. I’ll speak in full, comprehensible sentences, too!
When I’m gigging with others, I get that recharge time by allowing my fellow performer(s) who are far better at speaking straight after coming off stage meet people while I pack down any kit or instruments that have been used. It’s also a useful thing to do while also enacting some self-care.
Of course, now I’m doing more solo gigs, I can’t always ‘disappear’ straight after performing. That is part and parcel of solo performance and so far I’ve found the reserves to do that. I really hope that the people who come up to talk to me get some sense out of me. If I do look a bit bunny-in-headlights when you come to speak to me, keep in mind I do want to chat but I might be running somewhat on empty by that point.
The flip side of experiencing this as a perform is noticing signs in other performers who I go to see and who I want to talk to after their set. I can think of a couple of instances where something, some small sign, has made me think a performer may have run to their limit of post-performance chatting. While I’ve wanted to tell them how much I’ve enjoyed their performance, I’ve been enthusiastic but brief about it so that I don’t take up more energy than needed at that point. Yes, I might wish I’d had more time to chat but, ultimately, I’ve said what I wanted to say which was the main point.
I have to say, it’s been really interesting seeing things from both sides of the stage. I hope it makes me a better performer and audience member in the long run.