This week is the theatre departments finals week, and today I had a final for my acting class. I was terrified but excited to show everyone what I had learned so far this semester. A lot of upper classman were there, and I was ready to show these people that I have become a much stronger actor than I have ever been before. I was really happy with my performances, and there are very few things that I would have done differently. But after the whole final was over I felt very empty. Hollow. It was like I was reaching for something but there was nothing there. And the emptiness later turned into pretty solid depression.
I watched the upperclassman perform their peices and, as always, was in awe of their brilliance. Afterwards I was telling some of my friends how great they did...... and thats when I realized what was wrong. I had absolutely no REAL satisfaction with my performance because I didn't feel validated. No one had come up to me and told me I was brillinat, or that they were surprised by my performance, or even that I had potential. All I got was "good job" or "good work" in passing from a few people which we all know is always just something nice people say. Which is FINE... I mean i shouldn't need that validation.....but why did it hurt so much?? I had all these expectations for myself. I expected that everyone would be shocked that the nerdy skinny boy would be able to act. I expected people to cry because I gave a performance that was very near and dear to my heart. I expected people to be moved. And as far as I'm aware none of those things happened.
As I was walking to my car from the Performing Arts Building I started thinking about how sad it is that I need validation so badly that it affects my self worth. I felt genuinly awful and almost abandoned. WHY? I mean, after all, have come so far in this short semester. I have learned so many things and I know that I did the best I possibly could. Why do those things matter more when someone else is saying it? And then I started thinking about all the other ways I look for validation in life. The way I dress, the way I act, the way I make sure I'm friends with everyone, and the way I do EVERYTHING I do to please my audience and my professors. The way I tell people I'm fine when I'm not. The way I write my blog so everyone thinks I'm wise. The way I make sure I have lots of pictures on facebook so that everyone will think that I have an amazing social life. The way I die inside everytime I hear people tell me that they are dissapointed in me for leaving BYU. The way my heart drops when my blog has "0 comments" written on the bottom of a post I've had up for a week. The way my day is ruined when I have "0 text messages" at the end of a long day of school. And the way I feel abandoned when I have "0 notifications" on my facebook page. ITS GROSS!!!
Why is it that the only thing that makes me feel ok is when someone validates me? When somone tells me I look great. When someone says they like my jacket. When someone tells me they are proud of me. When someone says I'm cute, talented, funny, kind, a good friend. When someone writes on my facebook wall. When someone texts me just for fun. When someone reads my blog and leaves a comment. WHY does that instantly make my life better... and worth living?
The most amazing choices I have made are ones that everyone else thought was crazy. First of all choosing performing as a career. And most recently leaving BYU for the U. Those decisions have made me happier than any kind of approval every could. I realized while walking back to my car that having other people validate me is only a temporary high. Doing things for myself is what has changed my life. I have truly never had the independence and sense of stability that I have now. I amazing friends, I love school, I love the work I'm doing, I love the people I have met, and I love the skills I have aquired. So who cares about all the bull shit compliments inbetween??
Today a girl name Olivia gave a beautifiul reading of Robert Frosts, "The road not taken." I know everyone knows it, but its still one of my favorite poems. I realized while thinking back on that poem today that I myself have quite often taken the road less travled. And the experiences that I have had WITHOUT validation are always the ones that have "made all the difference."
THE ROAD NOT TAKEN
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
- Robert Frost