An Introverted Artist’s Plans
There are a couple of special activities that bring me profound joy when I get to do them. They’re simple, like getting up early to have a coffee while the sun rises, going out for a run in the peaceful, cool early morning. Painting. They’re solitary activities, but I make plans for them.
I look forward to those special times all week when I am away on film sets. I love working in film because I find it inspiring to be around so many creatives that are putting in the hard work, the hours, engrossing themselves in their art and their craft.
At the same time, if you know anyone that works in film, the work environment can also be described as high-stress and wholly consuming. You have to be present and alert at all times because like few other jobs that I know of, there is only one single determinant of success in a day’s work: what gets captured on camera.
Little forgiveness is ever granted for a redo. Everyone is there for one purpose. Each department has come together to make the scenes that make the movie. All of the planning, testing, and preparations have been for the moment it goes to camera. And once it does, you pray that it goes perfectly, otherwise everyone stands by and waits on you. The director, producers, cast, a film crew. There’s no other work that can happen in the meantime, minutes in the day dwindling away.
It’s exhilarating, and it’s rewarding, but it leaves you spent. Your time on a project is never really your own time. You go into work not knowing when you’ll finish (not even a vague idea, but you can almost guarantee that it’s not in time for dinner). You don’t know what time you’ll start work the next morning until you finish and go home for the day, hopefully with just enough time to sleep. There’s not much else that can happen in a person’s life when they work in film, except the film that they’re working on.
What we do have, though, are weekends. Weekends are my sacred time. As someone that loves order, I treasure the weekend because I can have a routine and feel like I have some control in my life.
So, I plan what I’ll eat for breakfast, for dinner (my opportunity for a home-cooked meal), what runs I’ll go on, if I’ll visit the museum. I’ll set a time for painting, because, as any artist knows, that time has to be properly set aside without interruptions if anything productive is going to come out of it. When someone asks me, especially at the last minute, to make plans it can throw me through a loop. I get this initial pang in my heart. I can feel the microexpression for an instant on my face as I start reeling inside to come up with a pleasant and polite answer. Oh, that would be lovely. I’m taking a couple of moments to try to convince myself of it, too.
Because I already had plans. Why do I feel like in order for my plans to be legitimate they have to be with other people? If I was already committed to another group of friends, it would be understandable. But I feel selfish to decline anyone when I had plans to do something on my own. Even as an introvert, when I long for that time so desperately. This guilt is something that I struggle with.
Especially when it seems that most of the people I surround myself with are extroverted. It’s funny how that goes. Introverts, I think, are drawn to extroverts. There’s an anxiety that comes with being introverted and extroverts bring comfort. They put the room at ease by taking the pressure off and assuming the centre of attention.
Have you ever heard of two introverts becoming friends? Quite Unlikely! Though it does happen, they more often lack the energy to make something stick. Or they’re pen pals (figuratively) - special friends from a distance.
When I was in my early twenties, I felt the need to have “plans” with people every weekend. Like I would be seen as some kind of loser if I didn’t. On the weekends I just wanted to stay home and watch netflix, but I would get self-conscious if someone asked me what I was doing. That was before I discovered the things that really made me happy. It wasn’t watching netflix or trying to have fun in large groups of people.
As I learn more about this - through age and by talking to my therapist, I’m becoming more confident about declaring the things I’m choosing to do with my time. It can be hard for others to understand that sometimes, and they might find that I’m being mean, but I am becoming okay with that.
I found a great David Lynch Masterclass lately and in it he said, “These days there are interruptions around every corner, almost every second. I’ve said that you have to be almost somewhat selfish, but selfishness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. If you’re with the right people it cannot be seen so much as selfishness, it could be seen as that’s your work in life and you need the time and the materials to do it. But you have to protect that space and that time or you won’t get anything done.”
Now that I am learning to politely decline events that I don't feel I have the capacity for, in return I try to urge others not to agree to things that they don't want to do either. There’s no sense in bringing that energy around, that could manifest into resentment. When you live authentically, no longer doing the things that you don’t want to do, I think that you will naturally find people that you’re better suited for. And I don’t mean by canceling on people last minute, but by being more upfront about your desires.
I’m figuring it out as I go. And doing the best that I can.
Just for fun read: Start Without Me by Gary Janetti
Love, And do what you will.