Putting down roots, pulling down walls, and trying to remember how to make friends
I got my two-year working visa for Germany last month, which means I have two years to establish myself as a working artist here. Which is actually the longest period of time ever that a country has given me to be in it and work as an artist. (Iâ€™m not counting the US, I only got by there because random dudes on the phone liked my MILFy voice.) Fuck the US anyway. Iâ€™m here, I have documentation, and I feel like I could maybe find my people.
Problem is, I canâ€™t remember how.
Touring around for seven months out of the year has always been a problem, in terms of finding friends and connections. Add to that the fact that Iâ€™m actually only an extrovert when I can promote my work. When it comes to reaching out on my own behalf just to set coffee dates with people or show up and be part of the crowd at someone elseâ€™s show, Iâ€™m awkward as fuck.
Top that whole weird sundae off with the perfect bittersweet cherry of blended professional and personal lives: even when Iâ€™m out socializing, Iâ€™m always repping the brand. This seems to be the default for independent artists: everyday weâ€™re hustling. So I wind up feeling stymied in terms of finding my space and making community. How can I get out of my promoter zone, my wheeling-and-dealing brain, and just find my people?
You may not be an indie artist or promoter, but you can just substitute whatever thoughts/obsessions/work shit are actively getting in your way and freezing you up: too much work, not enough work, worry about family (who can do fine without you), insecurities about schoolworkâ€¦ what is getting in your way of connecting?
I know what is getting in my way, and even though as an artist I need to keep one ear trained to that ambition and hustle and fear of missing out, I still need undiluted social time, time with people that does not involve me promoting my show or otherwise worrying about my fantastic new two-year-plan creative lifestyle in Berlin.
I donâ€™t always know how to talk with people in that non-work way, but I feel like maybe the first step is to just get out there and be with them, in spite of my anxieties. Being ever the bulldozer type, I decided to make myself get out there. So here is what Iâ€™m doing:
- I set aside time for one acquaintance date per week, where we are not venting about touring and ticket sales, even if that would be mutual, and if we do end up talking about my next show, it is only in a sort of sharing of workplace grievances, not like a brainstorming session about living my best performerâ€™s life.
- Iâ€™ve got one night a week where I am going out to a place to not perform. Someplace with a sort of theme that I would enjoy experiencing anyway, but nowhere that I am supposed to be performing.
- When I go to a place where Iâ€™m anxious about what Iâ€™m doing, I set a time limit for how long I have to stay there: just a half-hour, just an hour. I set my timer for that, and I check in with myself when the time is up
Most importantly, I donâ€™t get mad at myself if I donâ€™t manage to do these things every week. I’m trying to change some extremely whack-a-doodle thoughts. That takes time, and hell, Iâ€™ve got two years to work up to it.
A little personal note from the middle of an arts-frenzy life. If you like what I’m doing, both in and out of the sex-aware performing arts, and you have a bit of extra cash, consider becoming a patron of mine on Patreon! If you’re not sure about Patreon, you can also do a one-time donation to me via Paypal. There are lots of ways to show your support!
You might be amused by a little anecdote about the socializing strategies of another artist, the composer Jean Sibelius. He held salon-type gatherings at his house; not at all unusual for an accomplished person in his era. He was asked, “Why do you never invite musicians? You always invite just local businessesmen and officials.” He replied, “If I invite businessesmen and officials, they talk about music. If I invite musicians, all they talk about is money.”