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  • Writer's pictureTaylor Louderman

Is Performing Selfish?

I put out a social post asking people to settle a debate in my mind: is performing selfish? 

This question is nuanced and elicits different perspectives, which I LOVE! It sparked some really great conversations with friends, fellow performers, and people I don't know. It was nice to hear others contemplate and even struggle with this sometimes. Also, you're all lovely...because no one point blank told this performer her work was selfish. 

For context, I've been grappling with what role I want performing to play in my life. I've been dealing a lot with stage fright, expectations, and fear that I'm not deserving of the attention I've been given for my work. I've concluded that I only want to perform if it serves a greater purpose beyond myself — if it becomes a way to serve others rather than a showcase of my own prowess or shortcomings. I found myself questioning whether performing for others could ever truly transcend selfishness. And then, my friend Josh brought up the age-old altruism debate which sparked a conversation on the very nature of selflessness. Maybe no act is entirely devoid of self-interest.

Anyway, I've concluded -- with the help of nearly 200 replies from my online community (thank you!) -- that performing can indeed be very selfish; we've all witnessed this. I've also learned firsthand that relying on recognition for happiness often leads to harsh disappointment. I've come to appreciate that a healthy dose of self-interest is okay. As someone wisely remarked, nurturing one's own joy can inadvertently radiate joy to others, AND someone's misery does nothing for another.

Ultimately, performing does involve an element of self-promotion, but can also be a selfless act when it serves to inspire, entertain, or uplift others. I believe the context of the performance/story and the intention of the performer(s) factors heavily in this debate. At its essence performing is a form of communication -- an exchange of emotions, ideas, and experiences. Human connection allows us to share in the beauty and richness of the human experience. I'll try to focus on these aspects as I consider my next adventure with storytelling and I encourage anyone interested in an entertainment career to do the same.

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10 de mai.

I don’t think selfishness is in and of itself a bad or wrong thing. Is it a privilege to be able to have a job that you love and makes you feel good about yourself? Absolutely. Many people don’t have that. But doing something for yourself because you love it is not bad thing. That being said, art in general and theater specifically are absolutely essential to the human experience. There is no life without art. So performing is absolutely an act of service and an essential one.


10 de mai.

You are an amazingly talented woman. You have brought amazing joy into the world of anyone who was ever blessed to see you. Performing might be the least selfish thing you can do because it lifts up all around you

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