How do you find your tribe as a creative introvert?
Odd one out
As a creative and an introvert I often feel like I am out of touch when I’m in a group of people. I see a group full of happy, smiling, chatting people and the fear starts. My stomach clenches, my palms start to sweat and my mind, usually so full of chatter, goes blank.
The school pick up is a nightmare for me. I wander along to pick up my son and find myself standing there nodding politely and slightly awkwardly as everyone else seems to seamlessly slip into conversation. I count the seconds until my boy comes bounding up to me and then depart, feeling like a bit of a social outcast.
On the occasions when I am invited into the chatter I become almost instantly bored as people engage in the smallest of small talk about parking spaces or… to be honest I can’t even remember as I wasn’t listening. My mind had gone off on a frolic of its own, considering why bees are or how come Leonardo Da Vinci, with all his intelligence, used paint that didn’t stick around.
A little longer and I’m making animal shapes out of the clouds, followed by a story about the animals, and a few thoughts about how their voices might sound. By which time I have no chance of connecting with anyone and I probably come across as aloof and out of touch, slinking away with the sense of being a bit odd.
Is it just me?
Am I really that odd or unusual or are there a whole load of us who would really love to ditch the chit chat and really get into a conversation about something that truly matters to us?
Are there others who are looking at the world and wondering whether there isn’t a better approach, or at least a different one that might be worth a try? Or indulging in flights of fancy where they look at everyday situations and see something majestic, something mythological about the proud child with his fencing trophy, or the tired mother shuffling along with her newborn, while gathering up her other chicks.
Find your tribe
Throughout my life I’ve been given advice to find my tribe, then I’ll fit in, then I won’t feel so out of it, so unusual, so disconnected.
And I did. Looking back throughout my life it has been the tribe of creative misfits who have made me feel at home, made me feel, not exactly normal, but accepting of the way I am and aware that there is a place for someone like me.
While I was at school and then through university and as a young adult it was the local theatre groups or drama societies where I could walk in and feel instantly at ease, welcomed into the banter and snuggling into the shared communion of preparing for a play.
Then came the wilderness years where I worked in accountancy firms and banks and had no time for creative tribes. It’s fair to say I lost my vibe during those times.
But drama school beckoned and there I was again, thrown into a group of creative daydreamers who loved to make theatre, or film, or music, or writing, or photographs, or dance, or paintings , or … anything. It was exhilarating and fun and uplifting and powerful to be around so much creative energy, a real melting pot, made of people of all ages and backgrounds.
The Loneliness of the Creative Professional
Creatives thrive on being around other creatives. We buzz with energy and excitement, often just from being in the same space, thrilled at finding others who vibrate in the same way we do. And yet many of us work alone.
Because we are a bit unusual, because we don’t embrace structure or yearn to climb a career ladder. Because we prize freedom to change direction, try something new, discover a new approach, collaborate with different people, stay nimble and flexible, and because the industry is set up that way, we often work alone.
Writers wrestle words alone, actors learn lines alone, dancers perfect steps alone, musicians compose alone, artists approach the canvas alone. And this can be sacred time. We also know we aren’t really alone. At any time we are creating we are surrounded by our muse, by those who went before, by those we are creating for and we are immersed in our selves, the true part of ourself that is connected to all things.
The real loneliness comes in the times we aren’t creating, when the words won’t flow, when the music stops, when the well feels dry. At these times we can look around for help from those around us but they just don’t really understand the problem.
Or those times when we are blissed out on creativity and want to share how brilliantly our writing is going, how excited we are about our next performance, how we finally found a way to make the composition come together. Even our nearest and dearest can sometimes only manage a “well done” or “that’s great” before wanting to move on to something else.
A Creative Community
What if there were a place where you could meet with other creatives, share the highs and lows, find ideas for how to share your creations or connect with clients, build your resilience for the creative journey, discover new collaborators, make firm friends? What if there were a group where you could dive straight into the big talk guided by a creative coach then spend time getting to know other creative professionals?
Whether you have been working for a while as a creative, have just embarked on your professional creative career, or are wondering whether to leap into your creativity I would love to invite you into my tribe.
It is called The Creative Cauldron. There is a Facebook group you can join for free but excitingly there is now also a face to face meet up planned for every month at Trestle Arts Base in St Albans. The first one is on Friday September 27th from 10am -12:30, tickets are available on Eventbrite. Please come along and also share the details with anyone else you think might like to join us.