I really admire extroverts. Those people who can just stand up, draw attention and be the nucleus of people coming together to share something important, be that art or organization, they are really something.
Amanda Palmer, in The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help is absolutely correct: when we engage people, asking them to open their minds, their hearts and their wallets, we form community, connection, intimacy and healing. Working together is the only way we can make things bigger than just ourselves happen.
I know lots of transpeople who do this magic. They stand up and say their piece, then they reach out to the audience, and in those moments, they bring people closer, not just for a moment, but from then on.
Supporting other people in reaching out, taking leadership, making art, creating connection, trusting the universe and the people in it is one of the key things that I do. I say “yes” to people, encouraging them to dive into the crowd so as to transform themselves and the wider world.
The only way to be out there is to be out there. Being out there live and in the flesh, making sparks that people share is awesome and powerful. Being in the centre of the circle changes you and changes the entire circle.
For some of us, though, extroversion comes hard. Not all of us feel safe and comfortable living in the “fast performer” space, for many reasons. We may have been discouraged as a child, may not have enough support, we might value assimilation, or our nature might just be more introverted “slow analyst.”
The relationship with the audience can be very rewarding, but it also can be very limiting. There is a reason that people have become hermits, listening to the still, small voices around them to develop an understanding and relationship with something bigger.
Both performer and hermit are about our relationship with Eros, that powerful force of creativity. The difference is that performers externalize Eros, splashing about in it, while hermits internalize Eros, taking the approach of æsthetic denial towards it.
Performers greet Eros in a rush, playing and splashing in it, creating lovely orgies of sharing, while hermits greet Eros by the droplet, savouring and teasing out every single molecule that they can find. The great risk for performers is overindulgence in too much Eros, while the great risk for hermits is starvation from too little.
For performers, getting naked is a public spectacle, shared with direct feedback, while for hermits, getting naked is a private exposure, shared with deliberate revelation. Performers need to meet the audience where they are, taking them on a shared journey, while hermits are on a private journey, sharing dispatches from the road.
I know that many people can’t imagine why I am not more of a performer. They understand the zap of connection, of externalized Eros, while the slow, tantric tingle of connection is not in their understanding. They have models of stars in their heads, but not of hermits. This is why so many dream of being authors, recognized and fêted, but few dream of being writers, locked away with a blank screen and a keyboard.
The challenge of shifting to performance mode is very much on my mind, as it has been for a long, long time. Moving from cool exposed Eros to hot exposed Eros, though, is not so easy. It means not only radically changing my habits, it also means challenging my own introvert nature.
I have the performer side, I do. Just ask the other Drama Queen. I used it to play a concierge for my parents, at great cost and little reward.
What I don’t do is get a blast from performing. It’s good, it’s fine, I like it, but I don’t need to perform just to get some zing from an audience. To me, performance is work, not delight.
I don’t trust audiences to get the joke. I know that I can meet them where they are, but I don’t really believe that they can meet me where I am. I can enter their world, give them something they get, but they can’t really enter mine. Making sure I always am considering common tastes is hard work, especially on my own.
I suspect that all performers have a private side of them, that they don’t get everything they need for the audience. Audiences always demand stylized and simplified versions. They do, however, get a blast from performing, feel pulled into the spotlight, love to surf on the response from an audience. They are, on some level, a bit of a ham, an extrovert,
I really admire extroverts. They can bring attention to themselves and what they care about in a clear, direct and memorable way. They are a very important and visible force in society. Sometimes I wish I found it easy to be more like them.
Introverts, though, those people who think it through, who consider and analyze, also play an important part, if not such a visible one. Our very lack of visibility makes us less likely to be indulgent and pandering to an audience. We don’t think charm can solve everything.
Still, Amanda Palmer, in The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help is absolutely correct: when we engage people, asking them to open their minds, their hearts and their wallets, we form community, connection, intimacy and healing. Working together is the only way we can make things bigger than just ourselves happen
More of that in my life would be good.