Constantly, we are labeling ourselves as something: Fat, skinny, ugly, pretty, short, tall, introvert, extrovert, shy, outgoing, you name it. It typically starts when we are toddlers (and our personality begins to develop) and people begin describing us. Maybe folks always commented on how cute you were and how you were just born to be on stage. Maybe you were always the pretty little diva. Maybe you were pudgy and devious. Maybe you were quiet and sweet. No matter what we were described as at an early age, we begin to subconsciously cling to those molds. All of them? Not necessarily. However, I would go as far as to say that we cling to at least one of them, and that is part of what makes up our "identity" as we grow.
For me, I was always the cute and shy one. As a toddler, I would turn my head from those obnoxious old women wanting to talk to me and bat my eyelashes. "Awwwwh!", they would dramatically remark, "She is shy, isn't she?!" And ooh and ahh over how precious my shyness was. At home? Pshhht. Shy at home? Heck no. I was a strong-willed, spit fire of a little girl who crossed her eyes at her parents while being scolded, mocked the rules, "Anna Gray, go to your room.", "No YOOOOU go to your room!" and was downright sassy and a little overly dramatic diva. But you see, in public, I was much more subdued and "keep to myself". It definitely didn't help that people praised my quietness in my early days either. All that did was subconsciously remind me, "I. Am. SHY." So naturally, I became what some would call an "introvert". I am not a "Shy" person, because I definitely talk to people. If I don't have anything of importance to say though, I feel that there is no need to say it (okay...unless I am around my small circle of girlfriends) and therefore remain quiet out in public or in larger group settings. Yesterday, however, I completely shocked myself. And I really do mean that.
Yesterday I had an appointment for a photoshoot/headshots for this journey of acting and modeling I am heading into. As makeup was applied and hair was styled, I found it quite easy to chit-chat with the stylists. They were warm and friendly and bubbly and it created an overall relaxing and fun setting before the photoshoot. I understood that the photographer would probably be asking some questions and I knew that I would definitely be fine talking to him. It's so strange...when I audition or am chatting 101 with somebody in the industry, I suddenly do not feel quiet anymore. I feel a sense of confidence. Moving on though, as I walked into the room for my headshots, I didn't just politely talk..I babbled.
I told my story. I told how I was obsessed with Mary-Kate and Ashley when I was little (and prayed for a twin sister), how I put on little shows for the two dogs in our backyard, how I am an artist all around and how acting came into the picture. The conversation went in all different directions. It went from my passion of acting to a lady stealing my neighbor's wallet, from Nikon cameras to my mom accidentally swearing when our dogs got tangled up on their leashes around her legs. Guys, my voice started cracking I talked so much. After I talked on and on, went from subject to subject, he chuckled and asked,
"Are you always this animated?"
I found it funny myself, because truthfully, I am not.
"Well," I replied, "It depends on the situation. If I were in Wal-Mart? Heeeeck no. I just want to book it out of there. It's the same way in large group settings or parties. I am the wallflower. Now with close friends, I am not quiet and in auditions, I suddenly feel so confident and get this weird adrenalin rush! So it just depends on the situation, yep!"
I have never mastered in small talk. Ever. I ask what I want to ask the person and then mind my own business. This time though, truly, I shocked myself. I left the photoshoot and thought, "How did I do that?" And you know what's funny? I still have no idea. If I can guess at it though, I would assume it was because I felt so passionate about the acting industry in there and I knew that these photos were a part of the industry and would help me. So naturally, I became more open and actually wanted to talk, because this was something that both interested me and would help me. Does that make sense? Probably not. But maybe!
So alllllll of those long paragraphs to say: If you label yourself an "introvert" or have been labeled an "introvert", you don't have to hide behind that piece of identity. You may typically be quieter (and that is completely fine! I know I am), but that doesn't mean you are unable to blossom at times. I'm not saying you have to have to constantly force yourself to talk whenever, wherever, to whoever, but instead to know that it isn't something that can control you and that you can, indeed, blossom.