I have to admit up front that I stole the title of this post from a TEDx Talk by Brian Little at Oxford. Professor Little taught me that I’m a “passionate introvert.” That means that I snap from introvert to extrovert when I’m doing, or talking about, or sharing things that I’m passionate about.
Introverts are introverted because their brains are often in overdrive and they need to retreat and chill. Extroverts on the other hand feel under-stimulated and get jiggy. Introverts feel awkward in social situations (especially around extreme extroverts). I don’t talk much in groups unless I’m performing or speaking to an audience. In small groups the extroverts are generally doing all the talking. Most artists lean toward being introverted. Their art is their way of saying, “Hey, THIS! This is what I’m passionate about and want to share with you.” Like me with my sunset and beach photos. It’s awe inspiring to me and I want to share it.
I haven’t been a solo performer for very long. My original idea a few years back was to quit my day job and follow my bliss and gig full time. As I started to book more and more lounge gigs, I began to feel awkward because I was sharing my passion and people were just enjoying their food and their company, which is totally understandable. Those kind of gigs are not really a good time to get all passionate, and especially not a good time to feel awkward. That’s the time to be sociable and extroverted and chat people up. I would feel even more awkward when I felt like I was trying to be sociable and no one was responding.
Because of that awkwardness in just a few years I morphed from a guitar player that could sing well enough to get paid to sing, to a singer/songwriter doing house concerts, bars and festivals, and now to a songwriter that performs occasionally. I discovered that songwriting is my passion. Guitar has been my passion for a long time. I’ve realized that it’s the creative process of deciding what to play and improvising that made me feel passionate about playing guitar. Planning rhythm parts is arranging. And soloing is composing on the fly.
Funny story. On my recent mini tour I decided to play all original music. I had a song that didn’t have lyrics yet so I would sing the ABC Song lyrics when I was writing the melody. The song wasn’t done in time for the tour, but it was a great groove and melody and I wanted to share it, so I decided I was going to do “The ABC Song” version. I figured it would be a funny twist. I’d say, “I have this song that I wrote that’s not done yet, but it’s on my set list. I was hoping to have it done by now so I borrowed some lyrics from another song that you’re all familiar with…” Etcetera. Then I would launch into my version of the ABC song. It got a good laugh every time.
As I was rehearsing for the tour and thinking about what I would say on stage that ABC song gave me an idea. My adventurous foray into the world of songwriting was something I could share and talk about on stage without feeling awkward and that would be interesting to people. Expressing my passion for songwriting and sharing my adventure brings in a huge human interest element that creates energy in the audience. It gives them a reason to cheer me on. It’s no longer just a performance of some songs I wrote, it’s a stop along and epic adventure.
After every show two or three people would say how inspiring it is to see me chasing my dreams and that they are rooting for me to succeed. And I often hear Facebook friends say they are living vicariously through me, which I think is the ultimate compliment. Especially for an introvert.