When I was hired, one of the paper’s editors told me two things I should know about journalists. “They’re really loud, and they love to eat,” he said.
I’m lucky that’s not in my job description, because I only meet half those requirements. I do love to eat, but I like to do it quietly, alone, in a corner.
I can’t say that with any certainty, but I’m probably the least outgoing person I know.
When I interviewed Megan Hughes for an upcoming story about the opening of the MainStage School of Performing Arts, she talked about the benefits of musical theater training in childhood development. In addition to teaching cooperation and social skills, she said, the performing arts can help shy kids become more confident. After our conversation, I started wondering whether my experience in theater had any effect on my personality.
I made my debut as a mouse — an apt role for someone like me — at the Market House Theatre when I was 6. I went on to take other non-speaking parts, which suited me just fine.
In high school, I did appear as a lead in a production of “Our Town.” That summer, I spent three weeks studying acting at the Governor’s School for the Arts. You’d think I’d get over whatever it is that makes me so nervous.
But most days, it doesn’t feel like any of those efforts have paid off. I still stumble over my words. When my phone rings at work, I briefly hope someone else will answer, so I don’t have to. When I think back on my time in acting, all I can do is marvel that I ever had the guts to go onstage.
Acting won’t transform a shy person into a celebrity overnight, if at all. Luckily, it’s not meant to. I think what I took from acting was much more subtle, and more useful to the type of people who prefer dining alone to lunch in public.
My experience mostly taught me the benefits of breathing deeply while smiling and pretending I wasn’t about to run away in tears.
It doesn’t sound like much, but sometimes that’s the best you can do.
Call Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 575-8641.