On the recommendation of my good friend and sister-in-healing Jill Nielsen Farrell, Joel and I recently watched True Stories: Avicii on Netflix. The documentary followed the meteoric rise of the Swedish EDM producer Tim Bergling who began his journey to superstardom at the tender age of 17.
From the beginning, this soul called in for himself a very difficult journey, whether consciously or unconsciously. In Buddhism, the very name avici means “the lowest level of hell.”
Sadly, Tim, who perfectly fit the profile of the Introvert Artist, did indeed create a living hell for himself. What would seem a dream life to people wired differently than he – constant touring, huge crowds cheering for him, people screaming his name, never a moment alone, people always wanting more – was actually a nightmare.
If you are an introvert, and especially, if you are an artist or creative and also an introvert, Tim’s story can be of great benefit to you in understanding yourself and the importance of the right kind of self care for your unique wiring. I highly recommend you read on, and then watch the documentary as soon as you can.
Why Didn’t Tim Create a Different Life?
Avicii was huge; he could have had any gig, worked with anyone he wanted, and likely had more money than he ever cared to spend. And, though the Avicii machine afforded Tim many privileges, it did not automatically empower him.
In the end, he gave up his sovereignty and his identity to the Avicii brand, and lost his own voice in the noise of success.
When a person steps from the high school graduation ceremony straight into the brightest of spotlights, the glare can blind them to the inherent pitfalls.
When fame comes with no space for self exploration, without time to know yourself, and with no experience exploring the boundaries of how much you can take before you start to fall apart, extreme imbalances in the emotional, mental, and physical body, as well as the spirit, often result.
Additionally, when a young person who is also an introvert and an artist emerges into adulthood under these circumstances, it seems self destruction is almost inevitable.
He Believed That His Introversion was a Character Flaw
Tim had always thought of his shyness and aversion to socializing as something to get over, that extroversion is normal and preferable, and introversion a handicap.
We live in a society that encourages and celebrates extroversion. As recently as 2010, the American Psychiatric Association even considered classifying the “introverted personality” as a mental disorder! So, we can see how Tim arrived at the conclusion that he was broken.
Only after reading Carl Jung did he come to understand that there was nothing wrong with him for hating small talk and not wanting to be around people all the time.
Jung helped him to see that the craving for a quiet morning with a book and a cup of tea in solitude is a natural and healthy way for a human to recharge their vessel, that we are all wired differently, and each pattern is valid and whole.
Despite the profundity of his Jung-inspired realization, it seemed to arrive too late. Having spent so much time in a deeply unbalanced state, devoid of the resource and support he needed to mature properly and cope with what he had co-created, he took his own life at the age of 28.
While there is no blame to be placed on anyone, through the documentary one can see how the staff he had around him were firmly and even obsessively focused on pushing him to perform almost constantly, to keep doing more and more and more.
It seemed his life or happiness was not as important as their personal financial gain, or the insatiable hunger of the clamoring crowds.
The staff lost sight of the preciousness of his life because they feared losing everything they had gained from their alliance with him.
Unable to be a stand for his own happiness, Tim simply drifted with the flow of the Avicii stream, despite the fact that he never really wanted to plumb those waters.
Basic Needs of the Introvert Artist
Like food, water, air, and shelter, solitude is a BASIC NEED for the Introvert Artist.
You must realize that you can get over shyness and become proficient at socializing and even public speaking or performing, but you still have a deep, innate need to be alone to reset and come back to yourself.
All introverts need solitude and quiet to recharge.
The Introverted Artist needs even more.
If you want to be a touring musician and you are an introvert, you will need to be very mindful of your schedule and taking time to recharge, without question, without exception.
Learn how to navigate the waters of relationship with others, and most importantly, with self.
There is nothing wrong with you. Introversion is not a handicap or some unwanted remnant of adolescence. Like yin and yang, introversion and extroversion compliment one another, and it is critically important that the Introvert Artist honor their true nature, develop good boundaries, and a doggedly insist upon having adequate time alone.
People will never stop wanting your energy.
There is a certain mystique around Introvert Artists that is tantalizing, enticing certain types of people to dig into your life, to get closer to you than you are comfortable with, and to drain your magic because they have yet to touch their own.
Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries, my loves.
Find the fulcrum upon which you can dance and share your creations without being consumed by the insatiable hunger of those who find you appetizing.
Find the place where your art is happening through you and as you, and that you are not allowing your own finite personal chi to be drained. Find a way not to give not so much of yourself, but to open your vessel and become a channel of energy that flows from the infinite, a well that can never run dry.
And, learn to go into solitude and drink deeply from that well when you are thirsty.
Learn to say no.
My Intention As a Coach
All paths lead home. All life stories fulfill the soul in some way, and even suffering and seeming tragedy can have purpose that we cannot grasp at this level of consciousness. While there is brilliance and excitement in skyrocketing to fame, burning bright and dying young, I want to be a healthy, vibrant artist for many years to come.
And, I want to help other Introvert Artists to find that sweet fulcrum, to dance in alignment with Creative Power without burning out, to share freely without draining themselves. And, to become the BridgeWalkers who help usher in a higher level of human consciousness on this planet. A tall order, but I know we got this.
I extend my condolences to all who mourn the passing of Tim Bergling.
Tim, we thank you for sharing your gifts, for your uplifting music, and for your dedication to the arts. May you finally rest in peace.