It has been MONTHS since my last entry...... and OF COURSE the one day I have time to sit and think about my feelings is at 10 pm on Valentines Day! However, what I want to talk about doesn't have a whole lot to do with this very irritating holiday.
As long as I can remember, I have had this DESPERATE need to be important. To fill some great purpose. I'm sure we all feel that way at one time or another. This need for greatness has driven me to throw myself into as many projects as possible this semester (3productions,teaching voice, directing showcase, class..), to make up for what I saw as a very LAZY first semester. While I'm glad I am being productive and keeping myself focused on my craft, this busy schedule has opened my eyes to a whole new kind of anxiety. A few months ago I had NEVER kept a schedule for more than a few days at a time. I would try at the beginning of a semester, but give up almost immediately. But now that I'm making huge strides in "growing up" with the help of my therapist, I have been really on top of my schedule (thanks to a magical tool called GOOGLE CALENDAR). But keeping myself organized is making me more anxious than ever. Before, I ran around completely unaware of how much I had to do, but now that I can see the 10,000 things I have to do on a daily basis right there on my phone...... I am a basket case. Every time I get an update from my phone about my schedule my stomach sinks and I want to run home and take a nap... or I start fantasizing about running away and changing my major to political science and journalism somewhere back east and never coming back. My therapist told me that this is normal, that I'm learning to deal with adulthood, begining to learn how to cope with responsibility, etc.... but the simple answer is NEVER good enough for me. I needed to know WHAT it was exactly that was causing this anxiety that seemed to rule my life for the past month. My answer came, of course, from a PLAY.
One of the projects I am working on this semester is RARE BIRD. Its being produced by Pioneer Theatre Company (my first equity show!) with special guest Anne Decker. I am THRILLED to be (a very small) part of this production. All I knew about this project was that it is a straight play (non musical) and I haven't done one of those since High School, so I was terrified to start. I had NO idea that this play would have such a profound impact on my way of thinking. After the very first read through, I had a full page of notes on the incredible actors and their choices... and one page of quotes, words of wisdom, and thoughts about my personal life that were given to me through the text of this beautiful piece. The line that helped me pinpoint my anxiety problem was beautifully delivered by Anne Decker herself, "fear, when fully expressed, can be a source of safety and strength." FEAR was my problem. Fear is a natural emotion that our bodies develop from birth as a way to protect ourselves from danger. We FEAR the things in order to keep ourselves safe. But my fear had gotten out of hand.
I was afraid that I couldn't accomplish all the things I had signed up to do. I was afraid to let down my directors, teachers, friends. I was afraid I didn't have the talent, body type, or the training to do all the things that were expected of me. And all that anxiety bled into my personal life. I was/am constantly afraid that my friends were mad at me, or that I would offend them and lose them somehow. I was afraid that I would NEVER be in a relationship, and that if I every got in one, that they would be bored of me immediately. And THAT kind of fear was not keeping me safe from danger, it was holding me back form reaching my full potential. This fear truly manifest itself in rehearsals for Rare Bird. I sat in my seat terrified to make eye contact with any of my fellow actors, afraid to speak, afraid to TRY anything. I was so afraid of FAILURE that I eliminated the possibility of success.
Text from later on in the play reads "it feels good to remember our successes. Our failures, on the other hand, can become our turned corners. In the end though, all will be forgotten." Now at first this idea that "all will be forgotten" might seem a bit morbid and depressing. HOWEVER it brings me immense COMFORT. Have you ever noticed that YOUR most embarrassing moments, are ones that everyone else forgets about? No one remembers when your stomach growled in class, or you had coffee breath in talking to a friend, or you being 3 minuets late to a rehearsal. We all have those little moments where we remember when we did something silly and then cringe and hate ourselves momentarily. I even sit in rehearsal and think of all the stupid things I COULD do to offend my director, fellow actors, or stage manager and cringe in some sad attempt to keep myself safe. Those fears are ones we create and keep ourselves, even though the rest of the world, our friends, our family, let them go almost instantly. What if I could let them go that instantly?
I have always desired to be IMPORTANT. Well, important people take risks. People that really make a difference in the world TRY things without fear. At the end of my life the last thing I want to do is look back and be proud of the fact that I never did anything embarrassing, rude, or silly. I don't want to celebrate the fact that I never upset anyone, never embarrassed myself, never made myself stand out. I don't want to look back and regret wasting time staring at my calendar giving myself a panic attack about not being able measure up. I want to look back and remember all the things I TRIED. All the things I DID. But living in fear, keeps me from ever having the opportunity to DO anything.
My favorite quote from Rare Bird reads "in this world we all feel, persona non grata sometime. Thats just how it is. That just means you FEEL things. Thats all it means. No big deal." Why let FEELING things like persona non grata (being an outcast), or FEAR, or EMBARRASSMENT, rule the we we live our lives? If in the end "all will be forgotten", why not do everything we can to meet our full potential, and regard that feeling of fear be "no big deal?"