I studied theatre in college – and no I don’t want to hear your stories about how you did theatre in high school. Why do people always do that with the arts? You tell anybody that your career aspirations are in an artistic field and they HAVE to tell you about how they once, or sometimes still, dabble in that too. I swear I’m gonna start telling engineers about when I used to play with Lego’s and business men about my lemonade stand and how those experiences make me a kindred spirit in their chosen career path!
Any who . . . not the point I’m driving towards, so I’ll step down off of THAT soapbox.
I studied theatre; namely acting and directing. In my first BFA acting studio we did a Sanford Meisner exercise where you stand about two feet apart from your acting partner, face to face. Then you both repeat the same thing back and forth to each other until organically the words change into new words. The idea is to let your brain disengage so that you can truly feel and communicate honestly with your partner. Well after repeating back and forth absolute nonsense for lord knows how long, my conscious brain disengaged and before I knew it out popped, “Why do you always have to be so funny?”
Now mind you, this was a classmate that I had known for a couple of months at best. This is not something that you say to someone that you hardly know, especially in front of a group of people! Naturally, she was offended by my question, but following the rules of the game she had to repeat the same thing back. She had to use the words that I had thrown at her to convey her emotions back to me. So she was offended, which made me victorious because clearly I was succeeding in the game (and I do have a bit of a competitive streak, not gonna lie), which made her even more offended (rightfully so!), which made me realize that I was being an ass and so on and so forth. We worked our way through an entire argument using words that had quickly become nonsensical, until finally all we could do was stand staring at each other and break out in giggles.
It was one of the most surreal, honest, genuine moments I have ever had in my life and definitely as an actress. I am no longer an actress. It is a skill that I possess, but not a career that I want. I learned very quickly that I am not brave enough to be an actress. I am not brave enough to stand face to face, every night, with a character and do them the honor and justice that they deserve by opening myself up and allowing them to answer through me why they’re so funny, or sad, or strong, or whatever. I prefer to spill my soul on paper in the privacy of my own head. I tend to be fairly introspective that way.
But, if I were able to go back in time, to when I was in college in that BFA studio, I wish that I could have stood in front of a mirror and turned that question in on myself. Only slightly different, “Why do you always have to be so strong?” That was my thing, my mantra. I didn’t ask for help, I did everything by myself. Because to need help was weakness and I was “too strong” for that! Which I now see to be total and complete nonsense, and really wish that I could have figured that out much earlier in life!
I think it’s absolutely healthy to realize that you don’t have to be strong and put together and “perfect” every day. Because putting that kind of pressure on your self is exhausting, and life is hard enough without adding all of that on top. Some days are “eat the Nutella straight out of the jar” kind of days, and there is nothing wrong with that! I think I could have been a lot happier if I had figured that out all those years before. After all, truth be told, it takes a hell of a lot more strength to ask for help, than to suffer in silence.
Today was not an “eat the Nutella straight out of the jar” kind of day, just an introspective kind of day. Although some Nutella does sound pretty good . . .