Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Clown Nose

On the path to personal growth there is always that moment of realization that growth even needs to occur. For me that means a lot of swearing. Thank goodness blog posts don’t have maximum page limits and that I can use as many expletives as I need to, or else my scholarship applications might have looked quite a bit different.

Let me start at the beginning.

It is the time of year to apply for scholarships and bursaries here in Rosebud. Every year I spend an inordinate amount of time pondering which scholarships to apply for. Every year I look over my acting evaluations to see what I can use in my applications for the various “Excellence in Acting” scholarships. Every year I am reminded of all the areas I need to grow in.

Evaluations usually bum me out.

When I started writing my applications I found myself typing, “Why the fuck am I even an actor? I hate trying to be an actor and failing repeatedly, I hate that I felt called to do this thing called theatre, I hate, I hate, I hate…and really I don’t, I’m frustrated. I feel like I can’t do this very well. Like I suck. Like I have no business even trying because I will fail, and I don’t know I’m failing until I’ve already failed because people don’t tell me what they want until it’s all over. Or else I just don’t understand what they want until it’s all over. I’m so full of frustration and self-pity that I want to throw my head under a moving train. Good thing my head is attached so I can’t throw it, and there is a singular lack of trains. Fuck.
“I feel like I have no business applying for a scholarship that has to do with excellence in acting because I’m not excellent in it. I get the same notes and I obviously am not big enough on stage and I should just quit and go shoot a hole in my head because acting is not where I will succeed in life. And with that belief how can I possibly succeed? I hate being called to something that I don’t believe I can succeed in. I hate that other people believe in me more than I believe in myself. Because I don’t. In this moment I don’t believe that I can succeed, that I can get work, that I even belong in this town. I feel like everyone is wondering what I’m doing in the acting programme, that people like N. and P.F. and the A.D. don’t think I should be here. Complete projection but I still feel that way right now. What made me think I had a chance at getting the spring show? God, I hate this mindset and I appear to be stuck here for now so perhaps I will go brush my teeth and go to bed and hope for pleasant affirming dreams.
“Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.”

Evaluations really bum me out.

I left off typing. As I was brushing my teeth I ranted to the mirror (a very messy endeavour, let me tell you) and came to this realization. I hate looking foolish.

A lot of my time and energy is devoted to not looking stupid. I don’t even know why. Why am I so afraid to look foolish? I wait but there is no answer.

I know that it’s getting in my way. My fear of looking foolish stops me from going bigger in my acting. It sounds idiotic, but it honestly feels like I will die if I look foolish. Maybe not physically, but if I look or feel stupid, something important in me will die and never come back. I mean it and I don’t know why. As a result I feel like I will continue to fail and fail and fail, that I will never lose that fear, that I will always for eternity be blocked.

I find it very frustrating that I am continually struggling with the same shit, over and over again. A year ago I was on a high. I believed that I had figured out how to forgive myself and that I had beaten this fear thing for good. I was in such a place of hope and life – and naivety. A very little part of me wishes I was still there. The harsher realities of continued growth can be hard to deal with, like realizing that I still have an unhealthy dose of fear. Only now I’m far enough on the journey to have the added realization that if I don’t conquer this fear, I will have to give up theatre. I’m far enough to see that I get to choose the life I want, to see that one path will give me life and the other will deaden my soul. What consequences am I willing to accept?

Illness and injury have a way of sparking reflection in me. As a result, I’ve spent a lot of time in introspection this month. I also feel like I do my learning in chunks, which gives me alternate feelings of hope when I realize I’ve conquered a bunch of things and depression when I realize a whole bunch of things I need to learn.

It’s particularly depressing when the things I need to learn are ones I thought I’d learned already. Fear. It is a huge problem that I just can’t seem to lick. It isn’t just in acting. It rears its ugly head in every aspect of my life.
I’m afraid of rejection in relationship, so I insulate myself from that potential pain by isolating myself – keeping my true thoughts to myself and saying partial truths that will keep me a part of the group. It’s worse than outright lying because parts of me get through and then I don’t know where I am anymore. Only some things get censored…the things that I’m afraid will get me rejected by those I care about. Fear ties up my tongue and shakes my brain, jumbling my thoughts into incoherency and thus safety, since I can’t express an incoherent thought. And it usually isn’t even big things. Sometimes the only thing stopping me from speaking is the fear that I will look like a loser if I admit that I like Justin Timberlake’s music, or that I not only remember the spell Hermione uses to unlock doors, but can pronounce it correctly.
I don’t know where this coping mechanism came from, but it could ruin my life. I have put distance between me and the people I love. I thought it was an invisible, victimless situation I was putting myself into but people know when I am keeping pieces of myself secreted away. I hate how I am damaging the relationships that matter the most to me. It is so crippling and lonely to be isolated! I hate it with more devastated passion than I have felt towards anything in a while.
To realize that if I don’t step out into the fear and discomfort I will lose everyone I love is the scariest realization I have ever had. The stakes are the highest they have ever been. It scares me to see that something I do without thinking, something that is an old easy habit, can have that kind of an effect, that big of a consequence. I have to grow through my fear or accept being alone for the rest of my life.

Fear of failing, of being inadequate, of looking foolish, of being rejected. So much fear that I thought I had dealt with already! And fears that I didn’t know I had. I am afraid I will fail, and in failing I will look foolish. Being inadequate will make me feel stupid. Being rejected will hurt, and I will feel like an idiot. I obviously have some really negative connotations attached to looking and feeling foolish. I wish I knew why. It’s a very powerful force in me, so powerful that I don’t know how I haven’t noticed it before. Just the thought of looking stupid causes me physical stress…my breath gets shallow and my heart speeds up. It bothers me greatly that I don’t understand something with so much power over me. I have to hope that I can break that power and achieve a freedom that I have only just begun to comprehend even exists.

It’s a good thing that I can see growth in myself or I’d be in a dark, dark place right now. I am further than I used to be on this journey of life and artistry, though. I’ve learned some good things about myself. I do have physical instincts on stage, which was a thrilling surprise to me. I didn’t believe that I had physical impulses in me, but now I know that I simply didn’t know how to hear them. I have gotten so much better at listening to my body on and off stage, moving when I feel like it, taking care of myself when I need it, acknowledging and respecting where I am at on any given day. I am getting to be so comfortable, so unafraid in my body that I am able to just move without thought, to follow my body – it still feels like a miracle to me. And I am better able to forgive the days when I don’t follow my instincts and don’t respect my limits than I used to be. I’m far from perfect – but I’m not looking for perfection anymore.

At least not all the time.

I know now that I desire to live a life of freedom, even though that scares the hell out of me. I’m realizing that safety isn’t all its cracked up to be. All I have to do is read A Wrinkle In Time to see that. Freedom isn’t safe but its good. And I want that more than anything. I want to grow towards freedom, openness, honesty and foolishness. I want to be one of God’s fools even though I don’t know what that means yet. I want to know in myself what I am actually thinking and feeling, I want to risk with those I love, I want to be able to tell others what I want and think. I want to stop wasting so much time and energy hiding from others and myself.

I am no longer content with my tame lions.

Speaking this desire aloud, writing it down and sharing it with people, feels like a step towards freedom, a step out of that isolated safety that I have been clinging to with utter loathing. As if telling the universe what I desire will help to make it happen. If nothing else in a year I’ll be able to read over this post and see if I fought for my life or if I chickened out and spent a year killing my spirit.

Because in a year from now, I won’t be writing scholarship applications. I’ll be graduating with my FRSA.

And I want nothing more than to have earned myself a red nose on a string – the sign of the fool, the sign of my growth, the sign of my freedom.


Duckie said...

You know.. Dan was the same way, he was very afraid of feeling foolish. Infact I think most of us are. I know I used to be. One day, Dan and I where sitting in his car in the mall parking lot, very close to Christmas. The parking lot was a busy hive of people walking about, and we where sitting in the car looking at our gifts. Now I'm not sure WHY I did what I did next, I guess I thought it would be funny, but anyways. I reached over and honked the horn of the car. Immediately Dan covered his face and grabbed my arm to keep my from doing it again, with the look of terror on his face. He told me he didnt want attention drawn to him, and he didnt want to look silly. Well, after that I quite regularly honked the horn of his car, but in empty parking lots, so he'd get used to it. I know.. I'm weird! But now I could do it again in a full parkinglot and he'd laugh. Moral of my story: You cant just "get over" the fact that you're scared of looking foolish. You gotta get out there with the red nose, repeatedly... and have fun!

Pru said...

Thanks. I think I agree.


Tim said...

One thing I have realised is that I will probably struggle with the same issues for the rest of my life. Some things wont be fixed in this life. *sigh*
I am a dancer/actor/writer who continually stuffs it up, yet wont leave it well enough alone. My heart seems determined to put me into situations that I will fail at. Most times it is more important to fail than to avoid my heart.