linkin park lead singer and anticipatory anxiety

Chester Bennington, the lead vocalist of the alternative band Linkin Park, seems to suffer anxiety, though not when he is actually performing (check out the video; the admission is after the introduction, which is in German, a couple minutes into the clip; the interview is in English and German subtitled).

This isn’t surprising. On stage, he is expected to perform, and it makes sense that he’s developed mechanisms to meet this expectation. It’s likely that the stress associated with performing in front of huge audiences is channeled in such a way as to be advantageous in his case, giving him energy and motivation. Having an outlet for stress is crucial, and hence the reason that exercise for many people functions as a stress-reducer and anti-depressant. Oftentimes, as in Chester’s case, it is the anticipation of having to do something stressful that is itself far more intense than the event itself.

Chester strikes me as being introverted, stressed in the face of situational novelty outside his control, thoughtful, and internalizing of his emotions. Mike Shinoda, who is the other vocalist (who prefers rap) in the band, is in many ways Chester’s antithesis. Mike comes across as extraverted, as well as unfazed by novelty and adventure. Unlike Chester, Mike is far more willing to engage the large audiences directly, talking to them between songs far more than Chester. He gives greater attention to the audience and engages them, whereas Chester is more internally focused and speaks minimally to the crowds.

It seems to be a mutualistic arrangement. The benefits of the introverted and emotionally internalizing band member dovetail nicely with the more engaging and extraverted vocalist.

I’m reminded of Quiet, by Susan Cain, a book that highlights the “power of introverts” and the qualities they tend to possess that are useful and better suited in some situations. It was maddening reading the book at times. Cain conflated terms in some cases. For example, introverts aren’t always afraid of novelty or hyper-sensitive, though that seems to be the implication. However, what the book does well is promote the idea that introversion might be useful in some cases. The laborious and self-driven work of many scientists might appeal to introverts; the engaging and externally focused work of those in sales might appeal to extraverts.

Linkin Park’s lead vocalists seem to be a good team due precisely to their personalities and the sharp contrast between them. Having said that, my sympathies go to Chester. Whereas Mike is reveling in the novelty and experience of traveling to other countries and singing in front of huge crowds, Chester is living his dream but dreading the uncertainty and inordinate external stimulation that that dream requires. It is his internal motivation and love of what he does that drives him and ultimately has made him and his work a success.

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