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What Drives Shy People to Make Art, According to Bruce Springsteen
- Michael Thompson
“You feel the pain of being voiceless”
It took only seven minutes and twenty-five seconds of listening to Bruce Springsteen and Barack Obama’s new podcast, “Renegades: Born in the USA,” for the goosebumps to kick in. The two were reminiscing about the first few times they met and Barack touched upon Bruce’s shyness to which The Boss replied:
“I don’t know if I’d say most people in my business, but shyness is not unusual. If you weren’t quiet, you wouldn’t have so desperately searched for a way to speak.
The reason you have so desperately pursued your work and your language and your voice is because you haven’t had one — and you realize that — and you feel the pain of being somewhat voiceless.
It (the performance) becomes the mechanism from which you express the entirety of your life, your entire philosophy, your code of living, and that’s how it came to me. And previous to that, I felt pretty invisible — and there was a lot of pain in that invisibility.”
Whether you’re a fan of Springsteen’s music or not, one thing becomes very apparent in conversation — he understands the human experience. The guy’s tuned in. In a few sentences, he summed up the exact feelings I’ve had since I stumbled upon writing four years ago but haven’t yet been able to pen.
Growing up stuttering and battling confidence issues, with the exception of close friends and family, I never felt truly seen. Looked over. Passed over. With the exception of kicking a soccer ball, I was usually picked last. Despite learning how to adapt, I discovered a new kind of invisible, one where I blended in with everybody else.
Writing helped change that.
It allowed me to step away from the crowd and find my footing along the edges. A place where I could stand comfortably on my own. I get to be me in my writing. Or rather the me I want to be. I get to carry my own tune, fiddle with my message, and drum home exactly what I want to say. What I’ve learned. What I’ve felt. What I’ve seen. The good people I’ve met. The challenges I’ve faced. Writing’s my way of letting people see me. Hopefully, my words let other people know I see them.
If Bruce’s message sped up your heart as it did for me, share your voice by leaning into your art. Maybe you show your love by making meals for family and friends. Or maybe you paint to express your vibe and what you stand for. Or maybe, like Bruce, creating music allows you to process your pain in order to see glimmers of light.
Art’s always been the most powerful voice on earth. It always will be. One note. One line. One brushstroke at a time. It makes human beings act more humane. It’s the great connector. It’s the bridge that brings people like Bruce and Barack together. It’s the bridge that led me to find my people while helping me to also better understand myself.