Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"What Made You So Shy?"

I'm taking acting classes. I, right? Anyway, acting is something that I've always wanted to do, but have allowed that overwhelming fear of speaking in front of people keep me from so much as trying it. Just the mere thought of standing in front of people and having to speak made my stomach go in knots and makes me want to throw up. Well, over the past few years I've made some progress. I wouldn't say that I'm ready to give any major speeches, but I can at least get my fat ass up and talk. If I say something stupid, I can laugh at myself instead of walking in front of a bus. The embarassment truly isn't as bad as you would think. Hell, cancer is bad....war is bad...embarassment is really nothing.

That first class where I had to stand up and introduce myself and give a little information about why I was interested in acting was the worst. That was the first step. Nearly 8 or 9 weeks later, I have to say that I am more confident. Oh, I absolutely get a case of nerves before I get up there, but it's nothing like it used to be. I'm able to make eye contact when speaking. I'm able to form coherent thoughts. I am discovering that not only do I enjoy acting, but I actually have some talent. Go fucking figure.

This past week I went to my first Improv class. Now, although I've gotten more comfortable performing in front of people, I have to say that just the mere word Improv makes me nervous. I can't even think of it without getting myself worked into a near deathly panic. But, I actually enjoyed the class. I had to get up in front of class and tell them what experience I had with acting (virtually none...unless you want to include working at hotels for years...boy, do hotel employees tell whoppers on the spot all day, every day), why I was interested in acting, when I became interested, etc. Well, I got up and was surprisingly more confident and not really all that uncomfortable compared with the very first acting class I had taken weeks before.

I have been interested in acting all my life. I used to act in my room at home. My cousin would come up with stories and we'd act them out. He filmed one of them when we were about 10 years old or so. It was great. I loved it. But, I was already pretty shy and as I got older I only got more shy. When I told the class this the Improv coach asked "What made you so shy?" That question actually kind of threw me for a loop because I never really gave it a lot of thought. But, it's nearly all I've thought about since he asked.

Let's see....what made me so shy......

She never wanted children. He wanted a lot of children. I was the compromise. All of their hopes and dreams were squarely on my shoulders. She expected a lot. She set the bar really high and I was never able to quite reach it. I learned early that it was a lost cause, but I still kept trying.
She has a certain strict set of rules that EVERYONE should live by and I was the only one under her control. And, control she did. So much so that she told me that if she died, I should just jump in the grave with her because I wouldn't be able to function without her.
Anytime I had an idea or made a plan or got excited about something that I wanted to do, I was basically shot down most of the time. "You can't do that," "You're not going to want to do that," and so on.
As I got older, I dated some of the most controlling guys a person could possibly meet. Just like she did, they dictated what I should wear, how much makeup to wear, who I could talk to, etc. Honestly, what the fuck was I thinking back then? Pretty much the worst thing that could happent to a female happened to me when I was 18. It took me YEARS to get past this. I spent some time single and it was all on me to do what I wanted. It was so freeing. It was wonderful. Still, the fear, the lack of self confidence, and the need to have someone's approval was always there.

What changed? What gave me the courage to begin down this path to what I hope will be fearlessness? Well, something pretty life changing occurred about 7 years ago. I told myself on that day that I wouldn't waste one more minute of my life on negativity. I began figuring out what I wanted to do. I began to slowly throw off those chains that have been placed upon me by those in my life that were keeping me from becoming the person I was meant to be.
Then, only a few months ago, I was slammed with a realization that was so powerful and so forceful that it truly felt like I was punched in the gut. Nothing I do will ever be good enough for her. She will never accept me for the person that I am. She will never like what I choose to do. It was gut wrenching to realize. But, I processed it and I came through it stronger and more determined to do whatever the fuck I wanted to do. I would force myself through the fear so that when I look back on my life I will be able to say that I had the guts to follow my dreams. Sure, I'm starting a bit late, but the point is that I'm doing it.

Now, I may never be a famous actress. I may never become rich as an actress. Neither of those things mean anything to me. I love acting. I absolutely love it. The more I do it, the more I want to do it. I'm getting impatient for the opportunity to actually have a complete body of work to do instead of just short scenes. But, I know that I'm really early on in my training and I need to keep it up. I'd like to be able to support my family with my work as an actress. If I could make at least what I'm making at my job now, I'd be thrilled. Anything more than that will send me running naked down the street squealing like a stuck pig in complete and total glee. But, if I never get an acting job. If all I do is train and go to audition after auditon and never get a part...I'll still be thrilled because I'm working towards something great. I'll be able to look back on my life and know that I worked hard, I enjoyed the ride, and I did what the fuck I wanted to do. There will be no more regrets.

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