I’ve been struggling with the whole existential dilemma of, “What the fuck am I going to do with my life after college?” A common existential crisis all graduate students face, yet one of more pertinence if you’re say a graduate of the Arts or English -because what the fuck are you going to do with a BA in English (or Theatre)? But I’ve been mulling it over the past month, because I have to start being both honest and realistic with myself about this, and realization knocked me right in the god damned face.
I love acting -more than most things in this world - and I’ve grown accustomed to it’s long and tedious hours, how it constantly compromises my health and sanity, and what it actually does for me mentally. And while it does a lot of great things for me in all those areas, it’s also done a lot of damage. How so? (You may ask if you bother reading this post). I’ll tell you:
When I started in theatre when I was about four it was hobby, something that I just loved doing because it was fun and different from sports (I hated sports). As I grew up in theatre world it became more of a focus, something that I genuinely loved doing, as well something you had to literally tear me from kicking or screaming. But growing up in theatre I had this ludicrous amount of confidence in my craft (that I didn’t even know what my craft yet). I could literally go into an audition and come out knowing if I had it or not, and even in the times where my confidence over stepped its bounds I still had confidence. I think I actually annoyed people with how much confidence I exuded on a daily basis because it borded on arrogance and narcissism. So with this exorbitant amount of self confidence in my passion, how could one go wrong? Well, it’s easy to be confident in something that’s just a passion because you have nothing to lose. It’s the moment that you invest more than just your heart into it that it becomes a contingent for failure - for complete loss of self. And that is exactly what happened.
The moment I got into high school and I wasn’t pegged for leads or even a contendor for them, I started feeling the ground beneath my passionate foundation crumble, and I started becoming hungry, but in the worst of ways. I started lashing out at people, trying to take them down from the inside, instead of taking them down with my talent. I lost tact with my talent, I lost the spark that made me “talented” and I became too focused on my newfound craft that I lost what I loved about it. It got worse in college due to the amount of pressure I felt put on me to succeed (from both professors and my parents), and while I learned an ass crap of technique, I could no longer hone my passion anymore, causing me to be “in my head” and “critical” and “hungry for critique”. Instead of learning how to apply technique to passion I just learned to “hone” the lessons I had been taught but forgetting my heart in the process; making me methodical and far too analytical of an actor. Worse yet, I found myself over comparing myself to my peers, something I’ve grown so accustomed to that it’s really hindered personal relationships on a number of occasions, but I literally couldn’t stop myself (I was driving myself crazy). I wanted to be than _____ or more loved than ______. I wanted to be looked up to, and admired for my acting talents. I wanted to be revered and awarded for my efforts. All the while I lost my love for it and it became a job, instead remaining my craft and career. And so I realized something very important in the last coming weeks: I love theatre, with my whole heart and I will never stop performing, but until I can treat it as a passion and with the respect being passionate about it entails (not worrying about awards or compliments), I should focus these energies into something else, something I am inherently good at. What you may ask (if you’re still reading)? Writing.
I’ve been a writer longer than I’ve been a performer. It flows from my mind to my pen (or keyboard) almost effortlessly. While I’m not a flawless story teller I am remarkably talented at creating real people on stage, and telling their stories through their characters. This is where my confidence is. This is what I am good at. This is what i can be revered for (since that means so much to me for whatever godforsaken reason. So when I start knocking on grad school’s doors this is the talent I am going to present them with, and will gladly obsess and mull over to my heart’s content, because it does make my heart happy, and soothes my ever rapid mind. Does this mean I will stop performing though? Hell no. I love the stage, and it would take a mighty strong hook to keep me away from it, but playwriting is also my own sort of contribution to the stage. I get to be apart of the magic from it’s inception. I get to be the creator of thoughts, actions, words, dreams, and magic - which is really freaking cool if you think about it.
My life has had many unexpected twists and turns - not excluding this one - and I really never thought I’d take my next-to-final bow so early in the game, but I need to find my love of performing again. Away from all the pretense and my own neurosis of self confidence. But I definitely need to take this time away from the limelight and be apart of magic making for awhile, because there is nothing like watching your words leap from page to stage, and I can’t wait to see where my words can take me (since they’ve taken me on some pretty cool adventures thus far).
I’m going to find my grip again guys, so I’m not so unbearable to be around. And so my head can spin in lovely fashion again sans evil horrible thoughts. But mark my words: I am going to find my way in this crazy business. I have only yet begun.