Aren’t All Performers Attention Addicts?
Don’t performers always crave the limelight? Don’t they seek attention? Isn’t that the point of their careers? Maybe that’s the case for some. It has never been true of me.
I am an actor and playwright. I am also an introvert. I do not like to draw an audience when I am in a crowd. I recall a time when I was four years old that sheds light on my temperament. I was always too shy to place my order at restaurants. Habitually, I would whisper my orange juice order into my mom’s ear.
My mom would then tell the waitress my order. But one day my mother thought it best to throw me into the deep end. She refused to order my orange juice on my behalf. If I wanted to have a glass of orange juice, I would have to speak up and be seen and heard.
The waitress gave me ample opportunity to give my order, but I froze. Despite my struggle and desperate looks, my mother would not give in. It was a life lesson I will never forget. It taught me that if I wanted to get anything, I needed to be seen and heard.
I eventually got my orange juice… half an hour later.
Taking the plunge to be seen
Four years later, at the age of 8, I wrote my first short story. Without any guidance I wrote the story in script format. The character’s names were on the left side of the page and their dialogue was on the right. Nobody taught me how to write like this. It came organically to me. And to this day, I believe God gifted it to me.
In my teen years I also learned how to act, even though I was still the same introvert who was always shy and reserved. To my surprise I found freedom when acting on stage.
Given my proficiency in writing and acting I later pursued my studies in Theatre. My studies provided plenty of opportunities to act both onstage and television roles.
Heading to Hollywood North
With hopes of getting more work and exposure to writing and acting I relocated to the west coast of Canada. I was certain it would serve to further my career. But things didn’t work out the way I had hoped they would. I had to confront a harsh reality. Why were things not progressing in my profession?
Although I was not desperate for the limelight I still wanted to work hard and be told I was doing a good job. Who doesn’t want to find fulfillment in their work and be told that they have done well?
It was in this time of searching for answers that a pastor friend of mine pulled me aside one day. He was fully aware of my situation. He asked me, “Do you want to become an actor simply because no one ever expressed they were proud of you?”. At an earlier time, I would have been angered by his question, not to mention extremely defensive. I suppose I was emotionally prepared to deal with such a question because of my meditations on God’s word.
It’s ok not to be seen by people…God sees me
I was meditating on the account of the prophet Samuel when he came to anoint one of Jesse’s sons to be the next King of Israel. No one seemed to even consider the youngest one, forgotten in the fields. While David was caring for his father’s flock of sheep, he fought off predators without any recognition from any earthly audience. But God saw him and had a plan for his life. God had not forgotten him. We all know what happens next. God would empower this same obscure boy to slay a giant and become Israel’s next king.
Today we have volumes of his written works, published for all to read in the book of Psalms.
In his early years David was rarely seen, even forgotten by his father, family, and world. He learned to live for the audience of one, God. He knew and trusted that God saw him and therefore could take satisfaction in the fact that God saw his work. It prepared his character to be one of the greatest and godliest Kings Israel ever had.
God took notice of him and promoted him to a position of great influence.
In relation to this, I realize that although people may not always appreciate my work or give me a well-deserved pat on the back, I can rest in the knowledge that God delights in me as a person and not in my works.
I too can learn what it means to trust God with my profession and its advance. I can learn to do my work for the glory of God alone. I can find my identity not in my success or lack of it, but in my God who sees me and loves me.