An Introverted Actress

Am I Who They Think I Am?

On the 14th August, I embarked on the biggest book tour I have ever been on to date. There was a little hiccup due to timings, as initially I had thought I would finish Heathers The Musical on August 4th and then be free right up until The War Of The Worlds began on November 30th. To my delight, however, Heathers is extending it's run in the West End at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket which meant a few of my book tour dates had to be rejiggered. Not to worry though, as the teams at Little Brown and Waterstones were hugely supportive and were able to move the final week of the tour so it became the first week of the tour, thus missing any clashes with Heathers rehearsals!

The tour was incredible for many different reasons. I met lots of happy, smiley people, I sold lots of books, I heard lots of people talk about how they feel my writing has effected them positively, I got to travel around the UK and spend some quality train journeys with the amazing team of women at Little Brown. All in all, it was a very successful tour!

Taken at Birmingham Glee Club by Hannah Boursnell

However...and that's not a "however, this next thing that I'm about to explain ruined it all!" or a "however, I shall never be doing it again because of X, Y and Z!". Na uh. It's just a...however, there was something I felt as a result of the tour that I didn't quite anticipate although should have definitely seen coming.

The range of interactions at a signing is HUGE. Some lovely people come up to the table and are a little nervous, therefore a little quiet too, but that's okay! I make sure I have lots of things I can ask such as "How is your day going?" or "What are you up to after this?" or they're wearing something super cool/have amazing hair that I can tell them I love. Others approach the table with a whole speech prepared that explodes out of them and all I have to do is take it in and be very grateful that someone's shared such kind words. Some people had a whole speech prepared but entirely forget what they were going to say as their book hit my hands. Some aren't even there for me. They're there because their sister, girlfriend, brother, mother, etc, is a fan and they couldn't make it. I'm as much a total stranger to them as they are to me so the conversation that can be had is limited. Even so, I ask them how their day has been, tell them what a lovely brother, boyfriend, girlfriend, sister, daughter, etc, they are and send them on their way to earn some brownie points!

Whilst you may think the hours of social interaction for someone who claims to be an introvert, the travelling or the public speaking might be the most daunting part of a Q&A/signing, (and don't get me wrong, ten 6am-10pm days of travelling across the entire UK and meeting around 300-400 individuals on every single one of those days is...a lot) but what really gets me, is the horrible twist in my gut when I wonder what each person sees as they approach the table. In my last blog, I talked about Guru Gossiper, the website that is the digital equivalent of The Picture of Dorian Gray. If GG is a mirror that shows you only the worst parts of yourself, signings and meet and greets must be the opposite. Young people come up to you and thank you for saving them in their darkest hours. They literally cry on your shoulder and tell you they love you. They only have the nicest and most sincere things to say and thank me for saving them in ways I couldn't have possibly saved them, considering I was completely unaware that I was doing anything vaguely in the realms of "life-saving" and all I did was make a video dressed as Wednesday Addams. In all honesty, their kindness may be just as terrifying than if they all approached my table and read out the things posted on GG. (At least then, I might even agree with them...)

When people have extreme reactions to you on either end of the spectrum, they're ignoring half of the story. They're refusing to see a side of you that makes up the whole and the hardest part for me is that it's entirely out of my control. I could show all my extreme haters every wonderful, selfless thing I've ever done and it still wouldn't be enough for them to see that maybe I'm not the devil in disguise. Then again, I could show each enthusiastic, love filled person, clutching the entire set of my books at my signing, every awful thing I've said to various different people in my life and they'd probably find excuses for me when I was never able to find any excuses for myself. I'm just out here living my life and those who already hate me will find the bad in every mundane action I make and those who already love me will find a way to praise it. 

So, when someone hands me a book and bursts into tears and/or showers me with praise, whilst I'm obviously grateful for their kindness and support, I can't help but feel this odd sense of guilt. Am I who they think I am? Have they put me on a pedestal? Are they ignoring the not-so-good? Or have they seen the not-so-good and understand that I'm just a human who's doing their best to be a good person? It's difficult hearing someone say "You're amazing" when your knee jerk reaction is to immediately think "If you only knew"...especially considering there's nothing to know! I'm only as flawed as the next person but my brain makes it seem like "If you only knew...that I've murdered forty-seven people, I've scattered their charred remains in secret locations in the UK and I'm living in constant fear someone may stumble across one of them whilst walking the dog".  As I detailed in my last blog, I'm a hugely flawed and occasionally problematic human being who's just trying to do her best to get by. Perfection will always escape me. As, I'm sure, it will everyone. Enjoying my work and respecting me is one thing but thinking I could never do any wrong is only setting yourself up for disappointment and setting me up for a very large fall. In a 30 second interaction at a signing, it's hard to gauge how someone is really seeing me and I just have to trust that everyone's savvy enough to understand that that there's bad in who we think are the best of us.


So, that little space in the Venn diagram between "what I know" and "what I think everyone else knows" is where I've been living for the last couple of weeks. It's been lovely and odd and terrifying and exhausting and it's been interesting to discover that it's equally as scary when you get too close to either end of the love/hate spectrum. When I find the sweet spot, I'll let you know.

xxx











11 comments

  1. I think I speak for the majority of your followers when I say that we really appreciate you being so open and honest about your thoughts on this issue. :) Best wishes xxx

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  2. Ooft, what a time it seems you've been having. A complete 180 flip from reading Guru Gossiper to meeting literally thousands of dedicated fans, no wonder you're a bit scrambled! I just wanted to send you this quote to help with all the 'figuring out who i really am' troubles we go through, and a big hug and friendly handshake from me to you, as human person to human person, 'cause life is tricky enough without all the hard parts of an internet spotlight.

    "Besides, the world isn't split into good people and Death Eaters. We've all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That's who we really are."

    Lotsa good energy being sent your way. xx

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  3. The thing is, even if you don't live up to what people expect, it isn't really you that they meet. I don't mean that in a 'youre fake' way but in 'none of us are who we are to other people' way. We're all just a bunch of other people's perceptions of ourselves. The important thing is that you are the perception of yourself that you want to be. At least that's the motto I try to live by. The fact that you care and are so conscious about your effect on other highlights that you're probably living up to that perception already anyway
    www.babblesnbooks.wordpress.com

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  4. Hi Carrie :)
    Thank you for sharing these thoughts of yours with us, it's something I've never really thought of that much. I haven't met you yet, as I didn't have the time nor the money to travel from Germany to England "just" for a book signing, but I believe that if I ever meet you I'll be one of those people who can't even say everything they've prepared to say, I'm terrible in these situations lol
    But I wanted to say this: I'm sure I'm not the only one who supports and loves and praises you because I think you're this ultimately perfect human being who doesn't do anything wrong, no! I am so in awe of you /because/ you admit that you're not perfect, but you're working on yourself and you /try/ to be the best version of yourself, even when you have bad days... And that's what I admire! (together with countless other reasons but I don't want to make this comment any longer than it already is oops)
    So once again, thank you for opening up so much to us as your audience! All the love to you! xxx

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  5. A medium between these extremes does exist. We just don't stand out as much. :-)

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  6. I think it's important to remember that nobody expects you to be perfect. Whilst in a 30 second meet at a signing it may seem like people think you are, the likelihood is they're just trying to get out the most important things they'd like to say to you before their time is over, and that doesn't include explaining that they know you aren't perfect. As someone with great admiration for you, but as someone who also understands that nobody is perfect, and that nobody should be expected to be perfect, I can see why the pressure for being 'who people think you are' could be a lot for one person who is just trying to get by. However, I think that a lot of people are overwhelmed when meeting someone they 'idolise' (in this case for a lot of people, that someone is you) and would therefore rather stand and give endless compliments than get to the end of their time with you and realise they didn't get to say what they wanted to say.

    I also think our brains often make us think we're a lot worse than we actually are. Most of us know we're not criminals but as soon as we see a police officer or police car our brains immediately tell us "okay, you're a criminal, you're going to get arrested". Hooray for our own minds' self depreciation!

    Despite this, I think when it all boils down to it, the majority of people who support you don't expect you to be anything other than yourself, the good and bad bits included. We obviously only see what you show us, but we still know that there are other sides to you that exist somewhere, we know you aren't a 2D picture on our screens and that there is way more depth to you than what you choose to expose. Just know that despite you and nobody else being perfect, we'll all still support you, because at the end of the day, you're human, just like the rest of us xxx

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  7. I was lucky enough to meet you in Liverpool and you were as lovely and kind as I’ve thought you were for years. I bought that ticket knowing that you are a flawed human being, as everyone is but your flaws are just apart of the person you are. I told you I appreciated you as a person because I really do! Your little corner on YouTube is happy and bright in comparison to all of the drama (even though I won’t lie I do like the drama a little whoops��) but I think that people appreciate you and admire you because you’re honest and open about your flaws, you don’t hide them away or deny any wrong doings you have done.
    Either way you are a fab human with or without the “bad”.
    Xxx

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  8. I met you in newcastle and was probably in the first 10 people you met that day. I had a long chat with the young lass behind me (im 30 and she said she was 22) about how nervous she was to meet you and she didnt wanna screw up. I kept reminding her that you are human! As long as she was polite to you you wouldnt mind how she acted or what she said. I dont agree with people thinking someone they dont know is perfect. We all have flaws. From what i know of you you are a kind, honest, open human! And i love that!! You tell it like it is but you keep things private that deserve to be private like youre relationship. That is between you and oliver and no one needs to know about it. You are never going to please everyone but as some slightly older i just want you to know that it doesnt matter! As long as you are happy and you have loving friends and family, screw everyone else. (I only recently learnt this the hard way)

    Keep being you and i can not wait to see you perform as veronica in a few weeks x

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  9. I went to your Manchester signing and had a speech prepared but forgot it totally. I just told you I liked your hair (which I really did as mine is the same length but untameable and puffy), shook a little and just said I was bullied, thanks for being you, here's a letter and present I made, i hope that you will enjoy them, bye. I could sense you yourself were a bit nervous and I was like a leaf so I never asked about audition tips or told you how much you meant to me. I just stood there and talked with no substance. I beat myself up about it after and then stopped to think what it would be like to be you right there and then and realised I had said the right thing. I kept it short and sweet and got a hug and a comment on my blue and white dress back. I preferred it that way as it showed we were both human and that is the way I remember it now, 2 kind of shy humans having a hug, neither knowing each others true selves yet happy and sharing one moment. It's a lovely memory and I'm glad that's the way I'll remember it, not a speech you had to smile and accept stiffly. It made me feel so alike you and comfortable

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