I caught the end of an NPR story on Saturday about a 12-year-old boy who was having trouble socializing. (Only in the 21st century is this considered news. In my day it was known as "life".) Anyroad, the NPR crew followed this kid around, recording his trials and tribulations, trips to the shrink, parent-teacher conferences, etc., etc. They revisited him after a year and he was much better, doing theatre and making friends.
I know, right???
Now, I know a lot of people in theatre who felt perfectly--well, moderately well-adjusted in middle/high school. But I also know a shitload of us theatre folk who never felt socially accepted/comfortable during those years and were grateful/amazed to find The World of Theatre, where people were accepting, encouraging and loving. I, personally, never have been able to find that anywhere else, with the exception of with my children. I tried civilian life for a while, but it didn't take. I would make a valiant attempt to join a conversation, then invariably I would make a comment that caused all other members of the conversation to turn and stare at me like I had three heads. My virulent prayers for lightning to strike me, or the earth to swallow me or Instant Armageddon were never answered. So I retired from Real Life and came back home to Theatre. It's kinda like living in a Leper Colony, only more fun. (Disclaimer: I don't really know this for a fact, never having actually lived in a Leper Colony. Lepers might have more fun than Six Flags, for all I know, but hanging out with a bunch of people who look like Burgess Meredith in "Braveheart" doesn't sound like a good time to me.)
This feeling of family is probably not exclusive to theatre. But I bet you a dollar to a donut that you'd be hard pressed to find a story like the one above ending with, "JoJo was doing much better after a year, calculating compound interest rates and making friends."
Theatre is a helluva lot more than just standing on stage, spouting dialogue. It's home, and where my heart is.