|I'm the one in the green. |
And in the grin.
This is me in my very first play. I love this picture, because I can see my joy reaching deep down to my fingertips.
I love acting. It brings me a kind of joy I don't feel doing anything else. There's something about reading an author's words, and knowing exactly how they should be spoken, knowing exactly what kind of inflection will bring the audience to laughter, and what kind of pause will bring an audience to feeling emotion, that I can't really explain. It just feels natural to me, like it's ingrained into my spirit, like I was created to do it. It's something that I can do without trying, and it's where I shine.
I was in at least one play every year from the time I was that old, until nine years ago. I loved it.
While I was in High School though, I learned something that filtered my perception on acting. People don't like you when you are better than them at something. Boys don't like girls who are weird, and when I was seventeen, I learned that acting was weird.
But I didn't care. Acting was part of who I was. When I played a character, everything made sense. I could speak, communicate, feel, shine, without even trying. I was the best. I could be in a room with a hundred kids, and I was the best. When you're a teenager who hates herself, being good at something meant I had hope, a reason to exist, a way to keep going, even when life sucked.
When I got to college, I wasn't the best anymore. I didn't understand where all these talented kids came from, or why they kept stealing the parts I should have been given. Reality snuck in, and I had to work my butt off, just to be noticed. I saw so many people who were so talented, so driven, living in a culture they created of alcohol, parties, infidelity, homosexuality, and creative genius. As a sheltered young Mormon creative girl, I was lost. I wasn't good enough to fit in with the brilliance of the culture, and I wasn't bad enough to feel comfortable with the questionable morality. By trying to figure out who I was, and what I'd be, somehow I lost the joy in acting that I knew as that little girl in the picture.
That's where I was when I fell in love with the handsomest man that ever existed. We created children and a life that has brought me a different kind of joy. A brilliant beautiful happiness, that I wouldn't trade for anything; not for Broadway, or SNL, or any other dream I once had.
For nine years now, I haven't been in a play. For nine years, I thought I was okay with that. I expressed myself through my writing. That should have been enough.
But in those nine years, I've been sad.
I've been tired, and false. Something was missing, and I pretended so hard not to know what it was.
I found myself trying to play the character of the Perfect Normal Mormon Woman, and hating myself for failing. I was so busy trying to fit myself into a mold that no one told me to try on, that I didn't understand why I felt broken all the time.
This last week, I tried out for a play. I tried not to. I really tried not to. I came up with as many excuses as I could for why I shouldn't do it, and I have plenty. But I still did it.
Maybe it's the nine year break I took, but that one hour of being the person I was created to be made me feel joy all the way to my fingertips again. It's not Broadway. It's not living the dream. But I'm being authentic. I'm being the person I was created to be, and it feels SO good to stretch out of the mold no one used to create me.
Dream. Do it for the love. Do it because you can. Do it because when you shine, when you are the person you were created to be, you give permission to other people to be themselves.
But mostly, do it because it makes you happy down to your fingertips.