When I was just a little girlI asked my mother, "What will I be? "Will I be pretty? Will I be rich?" Here's what she said to me...
"Get a job! A job! "Please don't get a fine arts degree! "Critics will break you, you’ll see Get a job... a job."
When I was a little girl, during the height of the Disney Renaissance of the early 1990s, I would put on my cheaply-made and store-bought Belle costume and perform the entirety of Beauty and the Beast by myself in the garage. There was only one instance when I cared that no one would play with me. Otherwise, I was perfectly fine reciting all of the lines and lyrics on my own, mimicking the character voices made famous by Angela Lansbury, David Ogden Stiers, the late Jerry Orbach, and countless others.
Now, this was before the height of the current introvert movement that is happening now and way before people realized that there were introverts in various creative fields. This is most likely related to the popularity of Susan Cain's book, Quiet, which I recommend to everybody I meet. But people are still saying that artistic fields are not for the “Quiet Types.” Keywords for the common man's ideal entertainer is "outgoing," "thick-skinned," "vocal," "rolls-with-the-punches," and all the possible synonyms that go with those identifiers.
I am all the things that people consider "sensitive-skinned." Shy, introverted, anxious, depressive—I'm an emotional wreck after an awful audition, and I will second-guess my friendships when they simply say, "Yeah, that's cute." (Cute? What do you mean "cute"? Like, I-couldn't-think-of-a-better-word cute? Or, oh-we'll-put-this-on-the-fridge cute? If it's the latter, then F**K YOU, BUDDY!)
Yet here I am, your stereotypical “Quiet Girl,” and also an improv graduate, aspiring writer, and podcaster, in addition to starting to dabble in art and scripted acting again. I guess I'm a freaking anomaly.
LOGIC MIND: Dude, you just used an actual F-bomb just a paragraph ago. Why use "freaking" now?
CREATIVE MIND: Because shut up, that's why!
Here's what the masses are just starting to realize about introverts: Introversion does not equal "shy." Introversion is an introspective trait. It's about how you re-charge. If your energy is at a low, say from interacting at a social event, and you feel better after some alone time where you can reflect, you might be an introvert. If your energy is low after too much alone time and you gain energy from hanging out with people, you're an extrovert (or an energy vampire). Introverts are adept at listening—a great skill for improv and performing—and processing that information said in a conversation and reflecting on it. Does that mean they are going to join in? If it's a topic of interest to them and they are comfortable around you, then maybe yes. If they feel they have nothing to contribute, then they will continue to listen, or they'll jump to another group that might be familiar to them.
If that topic of interest is arts or creativity-based, you can easily find introverted performers in those fields. Steve Martin is probably the most well-known introvert, and he's probably one of the most creative minds that has hit the entertainment industry. Stand-up comedian, novelist, playwright, banjo-player, art collector, philosopher. The man just wrote a musical, for god's sake! His most popular catchphrase is that he’s “a wild and crazy guy.” However, he's a very private man. Or, as private as you can be for Steve Martin.
CREATIVE MIND: Hey, the article I just researched about famous introverts mentions Harrison Ford! Let's poke fun at that!
LOGIC MIND: But I don't want to add to the myths of introversion being about anti-social behavior like thousands of memes suggest.
CREATIVE MIND: But it's true! All of it! The Force--
LOGIC MIND: I just fell into a trap.
CREATIVE MIND: IT'S A TRAP!
LOGIC MIND: Oh, Christ!
If there’s something to take away from this madwoman’s ramblings, it’s that introverts are too quiet or too sensitive. Not like in the “Que Sera Sera” parody I wrote, the part where criticism will break you. Any creative person will break down and cry because of a bad review—we’ve all seen the Sad BatFleck video. It’s more like Peter Parker’s spider senses tingling: It’s an awareness of what you enjoy and the ability to examine the response of others as well as your own response to whatever you enjoy doing. It’s a superpower, just as much as the extrovert’s ability to make friends in the line at the Starbucks and invite them to shows and galleries. It should be utilized.
Although, a day job may still be a good idea while you situate your creative pursuits. I mean, my plane tickets for Dragon*Con and Disney World aren’t going to pay for themselves! God knows I’ve tried...
KC Ryan is currently a Level 5 student at DCH. An office worker by day, she spends her nights writing, improvising, recording podcasts, and having existential crises. She’s a co-host of Parsec Award-nominated podcast Anomaly Supplemental about general sci-fi and fantasy topics. Her greatest achievement so far is convincing her husband to watch Project Runway.