Monday, September 22, 2014

Showbiz for Introverts: 101

Nicole J. Butler on the set of
The CW Networks' "Hart of Dixie"!
Building and maintaining a career in the entertainment industry is definitely not a 9-to-5 situation.  This can be ideal for those of us who thrive in an environment where no two days are the same, but if we aren't careful, we can find ourselves racing from one task to the next.  This works out just fine for many extroverted types whose energy is recharged by the "what's next" feeling of the never-sleeping Hollywood machine, but for those of us who require (a lot of) down time, it can quickly deplete us.

If you've read this blog for awhile, you have probably gathered that I am the latter.  I require peace and quiet time almost as much as I need air.  Almost.  I can't hear my own inner voice in the midst of a crowd, and I certainly can't hear the characters that live in my head.   When I do something social, I need quite a bit of recovery time.  When I'm at home and the phone rings, I think "oh no" even before I know who it is, because it's an interruption that seems to be demanding my immediate attention - no matter what I'm doing.  And if I don't answer, I either have to find time to return the call at a later time or piss off someone I genuinely like by not responding at all unless someone really needs me.*  Some days I find myself with 6 or more calls to return - that makes me want to curl up in bed with the covers over my head.  On top of that, I needz my sleepz! If I don't sleep enough, I can't think clearly, and I get pretty testy. Since I have a career that requires me to always be "on-call," and a schedule that changes at a moment's notice, PLUS I'm a night-owl, this is always a difficult balancing act.

I've tried all sorts of things: office hours (didn't work - see "on-call"), accountability partners (takes more time than it saves, plus I don't need somebody on my back if I decide to zag instead of zigging), going to bed earlier/ getting up earlier (my mind is sharpest btw 8PM & 2AM)... all sorts of things.

Lately, though - I've been listening to my gut, and I've discovered what I'm sure many people already knew:

  • There are few phone calls that can't wait an hour for a response.  Putting my phone in the locker while I'm at the gym for an hour is a good way to clear my head.  I mostly go at night, so there's less of a chance of me missing a call from my reps.  When do I work out in the daytime, I just check my phone at about the 30 minute mark when putting my weight gloves in the locker, and taking out a book for the treadmill.  Guess what? I've never missed anything that couldn't wait 30 minutes.
  • That doing something purely creative without considering the business value of it soothes me.  My mother is a creative-type, and when I was growing up, she was always learning something new.  There was always some sort of project going at our house: cake decorating, making clay statues, sewing, painting, rehabbing furniture, hair-braiding, colored sand art... you name it.  I'm the same way, but at some point I started feeling like everything I did had to have a business value.  Not true.  It just has to have personal value.  If oil painting, gardening, sewing, origami, coding, and making doo-dads de-stresses me and keeps me out of therapy - that's enough.  If I make money from it, that's incidental.  For me, there's such joy in creating, and letting go of the outcome.
  • I can participate in social media when and how I want to.  I just participate in ways that work for me: I have a Facebook Page instead of a personal profile.  There are limitations to doing it this way, but I'm willing to deal with them.  Also, I do not have to reach every corner of the social media universe.  I just have to do what I do, and the people who find value in what I do will find me, just as I've sought out or stumbled upon people whose work I find to be of value to me. That's how I'm gonna roll.
Maybe this will help a fellow introvert or two.  There are a lot of us who are struggling to keep up with a world that places a higher value on extroversion.  I see y'all, and stand in (quiet) solidarity.


*I'm still making peace with this.  If I were talking about people that I didn't like, this wouldn't bother me.  I don't much deal with people that I don't like, so that isn't the issue.  I'm talking about people that I do like and even LOVE.  It's rude and dismissive not to call people back, but I can't talk on the phone for 2 hours everyday. Like "I. Just. Can. Not." (A little voice in my head is screaming at the thought of it.)  Even my mom texts me 95% of the time, unless something is urgent.

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