We creatives are often contemplative — inward looking. In the language of psychology: introverts.
Comedian Amy Schumer addresses what it means to be an introvert in her book The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo.
Sure she blows air kisses to her fans for the first couple of chapters, to deliver the bawdy goods we expect from her.
(An open letter to her vagina; the tale of her only one-night stand.)(Yep, she’s only had one . . .)
Then she dives into what makes the book so compelling. Real issues, straight talked in her graphic style.
I’m cursing Schumer under my breath late at night . . . I’ve only had the book two nights and I’m losing valuable sleep because I can’t put it down.
Here are a few snippets from Amy Schumer on being an introvert:
I am an introvert. I know— you’re thinking, What the fuck, Amy? You just told us you hooked up with a stranger in Tampa, and now you’re claiming to be shy? You’re not shy, you’re a loud, boozy animal!
Okay, fair enough. Sometimes that’s true. But I am, without a doubt, a classic textbook introvert. In case you don’t know what that word means, I will fill you in quickly. If you do know what it means, then skip ahead to the chapter about where to find the best gloryholes in Beijing.
Just kidding. I don’t have that info. Also, just fucking read my description of an introvert. Why are you in such a rush to skip ahead, you pervert?
Being an introvert doesn’t mean you’re shy. It means you enjoy being alone. Not just enjoy it— you need it.
If you’re a true introvert, other people are basically energy vampires. You don’t hate them; you just have to be strategic about when you expose yourself to them— like the sun. They give you life, sure, but they can also burn you and you will get that wrinkly Long Island cleavage I’ve always been afraid of getting and that I know I now have.
For me, meditation and headphones on the subway have been my sunscreen, protecting me from the hell that is other people.
There’s a National Geographic photo I love of a young brown bear. He’s sitting peacefully against a tree near the border of Finland and Russia. The caption reads something like, “The cubs played feverishly all day, and then one of them left the group for a few minutes to relax on his own and enjoy the quiet.”
This was very meaningful to me because that’s what I do! Except in my case, the bear gets ripped away from his chill spot by the tree, and several people paint his face and curl his fur and put him in a dress so he can be pushed onstage to ride one of those tiny bicycles in the circus.
I’m not saying he doesn’t enjoy making people laugh, but still, it’s hard out there for a fuzzy little introvert.
. . . . .
Even as a child, I had always known something was up. I didn’t like to play for as long as the other kids, and I absolutely always bailed on slumber parties.
. . . . .
Sitting and writing and talking to no one is how I wish I could spend the better part of every day. In fact, it might be surprising for you to learn that most of my days are spent alone, unless I am on set, which is crazy draining for an introvert.
As soon as lunchtime arrives, I skip the food service tables and rush to my trailer or a quiet corner and I meditate.
I need to completely shut off. This time spent silently is like food to me.
. . . . .
Once, [my boyfriend] Rick took me to his friend’s wedding. After about two hours of small talk and formalities, I went to hide in the bathroom. I had nothing left to give or say, and I felt the unbearable sensation that I was treading water.
It wasn’t until I became best friends with some fellow comics and performers that I realized being an introvert wasn’t a character flaw.
Even when we all go on vacations or on the road together, we take little breaks in our own rooms and then text each other to check in.
This quality is tricky when your job actually requires you to constantly travel and interact with new faces, new towns, and new audiences. You cross paths with lots of people in this line of work, and you feel shitty if you don’t give away some of your energy and conversation to every driver, hotel front-desk clerk, promoter, backstage crew member, member of the audience, waiter, and so on. And I do mean “give away.” Energy is finite between recharges. That shit runs out.
. . . . .
Now that I know I’m an introvert, I can better manage this quality and actually start to see it as a positive.. . .
It’s hard to be in the company of others for very long while being creative. . . . I feel lucky to have a huge group of people who let each other do their own thing . . .
. . . . .
Just because my job requires me to make fun of myself into a microphone and wear my heart on my sleeve for hire doesn’t mean I can’t be an introvert as well.
Believe it or not, I do have a complex inner life just like you, and I enjoy being alone. I need it. And I’ve never been happier than I was when I finally figured this out about myself.