Introverts Onstage


I totally got this.

I totally got this.

It’s late and I’ve been sitting here for about twenty minutes trying to think of something to write about. I certainly had plenty to write about yesterday: too bad I didn’t think to spread the topics out over a few days so that this wouldn’t happen.

The house is quiet, so I can’t complain about noise or distractions interrupting my thoughts, although the blinds keep rattling against the window as the wind changes. I did seriously contemplate writing about the rattling of the blinds and how they sounded like the anxious tapping of fingers. Then I realized that I was considering writing about blinds and decided I ought to try to write about something more meaningful. Then I stared into space for awhile. Then I surfed Facebook for a while.

I still had no ideas.

Earlier today I was thinking about the subject of stage fright. I don’t recall how my mind got onto the subject- I think that I was thinking about an article that I’d read about band members suffering from severe stage fright before performing and wondering how they could stand to go on stage night after night to perform for live audiences and what compels them to continue to participate in an activity that takes such an emotional, mental and physical toll on themselves.

I’ve never really had a problem with public speaking- I have always been mystified by this because I understand that it is a very common fear. I get less nervous to speak in front of a big crowd than I do at the thought of having to mingle with people at a reception. As I was puzzling over this it occurred to me that for an introvert like me, being on stage wasn’t much different than being out in public period. To me, in essence, all speaking is public speaking. Maybe, I thought, it’s not that I’m actually more comfortable on stage, but rather I’m just more used to it.

I still have a problem with “mingling”.

If I could offer a very unscientific hypothesis, I would speculate that introverts are likely to be more comfortable on stage than extraverts. My reasoning is this: introverts speak when they have something prepared to say or when they feel strongly enough about something that it is worth the effort of saying. While we would certainly like to be well received, we’re not speaking just to get feedback from someone else. Speaking on stage is just like speaking in any other social situation but with less chance of being interrupted.

By contrast, extraverts speak because they are invigorated by the response they get from the person or persons that they are talking to: whether or not what they say is something deeply meaningful to them. So being on stage, at a distance from all reactions, being forced to rely on the content of their own thoughts and their presentation of them is doubly intimidating because they find themselves suddenly (if you’ll pardon the superhero language) cut off from their source of power.

I could be making all this up, but I would be interested to know whether anybody has investigated it.

Ha, I guess I had something to say after all.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on May 2, 2015.

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