Thursday, November 12, 2009

Artist as Introvert: Your Personal Style

My friend owns a comedy club in which she sometimes performs. I occasionally go there to see shows. One night, she was pulling audience members on stage as part of her act. This is generally the funniest part of her show. That night, thinking I’d be a “shoe-in” for funny, she chose me. Had she known my secret (that I’m an extroverted-introvert) she probably would have reconsidered.

What does it mean to be an extroverted-introvert? Consider this.  If you watch me perform one of my hour long solo shows on stage, you’d be likely consider me confident, passionate, articulate and extroverted. Yet, pull me up on stage as myself and the extrovert completely disappears.  I clam up, feel stupid, turn red, sweat profusely, and sometimes stutter. Needless to say, pulling me up on stage that night was possibly one of the least funny moments in theater history. 

This dichotomy is something I’ve struggled with through the years and it’s been confusing to explain to others. There is a distinct difference in the social situations where I thrive and the social situations where I’d rather run in a hole and hide. 

For example, most formal networking environments send me into a panic because I’m horrible when it comes to making small talk - I second guess myself, censor my ideas, and feel self conscious. 
I’ve heard from others that this insecurity can make me seem shy, unsocial or pretentious. Yikes! Yet, put me in one-on-one conversation at a trade show booth or at a coffee shop and I can talk until the cows come home.  In an environment where I’ve got a specific role to play, I come across as self-assured and communicative.  Like many artists, I’m considered borderline on the Myers Briggs test. Have a similar experience?


  1. I thought I was the only one who scored equally as introverted-extroverted on the Meyers-Briggs test. I could relate to everything you sad. When I was in school the kids labeled me as a pretentious snob, because at times my shyness would keep me from talking to people, yet they did not believe I was shy because at times, in the right group or situation I was very comfortable being the center of attention. I didn't know this was a common trait amongst us creative sorts.

  2. I too relate to this. At 40 I am JUST coming to almost, kinda, barely accept and understand how MY experience jives with what others relay about THEIR experience of me. Repeatedy I have been told I intimidate people and seem SO confident or, worse, seem like a snob. These descriptions of me have taught me HOW to feel more confident, how to use these qualities I can barely identify to better express myself and reach goals. Hopefully, it hasn't ACTUALLY turned me into a snob...It has also taught me remind myself when I feel intimidated that I am not seeing the whole picture, person, personality - just a piece, a slice, a side. 51%I/49%E - Kristin

  3. I started to realize this about myself when I hit 30 and I actually had to tell people that my quietness wasn't a reflection of anything but my shy nature... I wasn't being a snob... or insecure... I was just quiet.

    If you want to freak people out.... just be quiet. Most people can't handle it. Our society is so used to noise that all kinds of assumptions start getting tossed around when you don't embrace the extroverts role.