I’M STRONGER THAN I THINK

So, I botched another audition … 😦

Before any audition, I always kinda downplay any excitement or gratitude regarding the opportunity. Thoughts of — oh this is just protocol, it’s a long shot, they already booked someone, you’re not going to get it, you have no credits, you have no experience, they don’t know you … help soften the blow when I actually don’t hear back from casting directors. Call it self preservation, but it’s gotten me through 7 years of constant neglect and false hope from Hollywood.

At least I thought so anyways. I didn’t realize the longstanding detrimental repercussions to my sense of self worth and self awareness.

So there are two parts of me: 1. the intellectual, measurable, on paper part of me, and 2. the emotional, can’t put my finger on it but can feel it part of me. I’ve realized recently that there’s a huge gap between the two. What I know and understand about myself isn’t equivalent to how I feel about myself.

Most of the time, I don’t like myself. A lot of the time, I feel I have nothing to offer to this world and my life is meaningless. I have no talent, I am ugly and stupid and there’s a ton of people smarter, prettier, nicer, anything-er than me. I am nothing.

This is the type of thinking that is the result of all my “self preservation”.  In the name of protecting myself and my sensitive ego, talking myself down from any opportunity, I am little by little chipping at any sense of self worth and self confidence I may have had.

And at the most recent audition, this self preservation led to self sabotage. I came in the room not confident, kept fumbling over my lines, and worried that that cuter, younger, smarter, more talented girl in the waiting room is going to kill it and I’m the old hack that never stood a chance. This thought literally manifested into my performance where I completely looked like a noob. After my performance, the director literally said, “Awww you’re so cute.” Ugh, KISS OF DEATH. “Awww you’re so cute” is subtext for “you can’t act, but hey consolation is you cute.” The casting associate asked, “how long you’ve been in LA for?” I meekly replied, 7 years, and his eyebrows arched which translated to: “you’ve been in LA for that long and you still can’t act?!” To add salt to the wound, that cute girl in the waiting room got a callback. I did not.

Look, I know it’s probably not as bad as I have described it. I AM being dramatic, but I am showing how far this negative thinking can go for me. It destroys me and its incessant voice is on loop ALL THE FUCKING TIME. To the point that it blinds me from the intellectual part of me.

On paper, through class time and the observations of my peers, I know I have talent. I know I’m good and have good instincts. I’m relatable, personable, intelligent and inspiring. It’s fun to watch me. And yet I’m so blind to these facts that when someone else, even a stranger, recognizes these features about me, I’m always so … SURPRISED.

This year it’s happened three times already. The first time was when I booked a lead role in This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing. I wrote about the experience in a previous post.  I was surprised that the director and co director trusted me to play a character, the most difficult character to convey, a character I thought very much unlike me, a character I had a lot of trouble understanding and relating, and yet … I killed it. I never even had the capacity to think that that was even a possibility of booking a lead role let alone do it well. They saw something in me that I wasn’t even aware was there.

The second time this happened was last month. I’ve been volunteering at a youth leadership camp for years and one of the traditions at the camp is for two staff members to do a two-person scripted scene. A scene that addresses the existential question of a life worth saving. Heavy stuff, a dramatic piece that I’ve always been intimidated by and never really had the confidence to do it. It was suggested that one of the counselors, a New York theatre graduate, super talented and so funny, should be one of the characters. But when this opportunity was brought to her, she said she would only do the scene if I did it with her … I was shocked. What???! Someone I respected as an actor and admired for her work and thoughtfulness wanted to work with uncombed, unpolished, rough around the edges me? She cray. She’s stupid. WTF? …Wow, once she said that, the idea appealed to me, her confidence in me gave me confidence and guess what? We killed it.

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And then the third time happened yesterday. I took a spin class for the first time. I had no idea what it entailed, I had no idea how to adjust my bike and fit it to my strength, I had no idea I would sweat that much! I wanted to quit, I wanted to stop, I wanted to yell at the instructor to stop yelling at me. But then he said, “YOU’RE STRONGER THAN YOU THINK!” And he kept saying that along rock music I’ve heard on Guitar Hero. My knees felt weird and weak, there was too much resistant, I felt like I was pedaling against mud, against a wall, it felt hopeless for a good 2/3 of the class. But that instructor guy said it again, “YOU’RE STRONGER THAN YOU THINK!” So I kept moving my feet, pushing myself, pushing my legs and knees and eventually, I kept up and sped up.

So what have I learned from all this? That intellectual part of me needs to shout louder and longer for my emotional part of me to feel its truth. For its truth to really resonate within myself and manifest itself into my best self. Instead of surrounding my mind with negative thoughts in the name of self preservation, I must shout what I know about myself in the name of BEST SELF preservation. 😀

Also, I think I will be talking to my therapist to figure out a plan of action to sustain and maintain positive thinking and mental reinforcements of myself for myself and with myself. Wish me luck! ❤

 

 

 

 

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Unanswered Questions

First off, I just want to say I’m ok.

Secondly, I’m not ok.

Anthony Bourdain’s suicide really threw me into a melancholy funk.

Lately I’ve been reevaluating my Why. Through Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk and his book, Start With Why, I learned that if I get clear with my Why — the bigger picture, the reason I get up the morning, it makes setbacks, challenges and failures easier to stomach. Also with the big picture clear, that last failure isn’t viewed as debilitating but as a necessary step closer to achieving the dream. Inspiring stuff right?

After a lot of self reflection, I realized that my Why was: To tell my story so that I can connect with others at a human level, regardless of sex, religion, background, etc. Carl Rogers, an American psychologist said, “What is most personal, is most universal.” Representation matters! My last blog post explains how this rang true for me. 

Looking back at my whole creative journey thus far, I can confidently say I’ve really lived out the pursuit of my Why. As an actor, I use myself and my personal experience to connect to characters and bring them to life. As a writer, I’m writing my own stories unapologetically via scripts, essays, novels. As a storyteller, I’m sharing my experiences live with others. I was connecting to so many different groups, to so many different people. I felt seen, heard, understood.

And then Bourdain dies.

Here was a guy that was MY WHY manifested! He was literally going around the world and sitting in people’s kitchens swapping stories and connecting with diverse individuals. Watching Parts Unknown, you can’t keep count how many times he says, “I’m so happy.”  Here was a guy that was recognized and rewarded in every aspect of his life. And yet, he willingly ended it.

His death reiterated that happiness and fulfillment can’t be found externally, but must be found within. And so I was deeply saddened for Bourdain because how alone he must’ve felt. How he just couldn’t find lasting internal happiness. And how perhaps, he must’ve felt like an asshole, because out of everyone, he should’ve been happy right?

Obviously I don’t know Bourdain, so really all these conjectures are projections of my own preoccupations. Because if it happened to him, who is to say it won’t happen to us. To me.

So what if I’m telling my stories. So what if for that one brief moment, someone heard me saw me understood me. It wasn’t lasting. In between those very brief fleeting moments, long dull aches of hopelessness fill the gaps. Long intervals of failures, feelings of emptiness, indifference and abandonment fill most of my waking life.

I’m incredibly conflicted. My Why has carried me through these past 7 years in the pursuit of creative fulfillment. A desire that determined the course of my adult life thus far. A desire that is still really strong. But as more woke as I get, as more obstacles stand in my way, as more shit hits the fan in this crazy political climate we live in, I’m filled with a sense of  … what is the fucking point.

How do I become part of a system that is so rigged against me without compromising who I am?

But also it gets more complicated than that …

Is it worth to keep trying at the cost of my personal life?

Do I need to be an artist? Do I need to make money as an artist? Do I even need to be in LA? I DON’T KNOW. I have no answers. I’m still thinking. I’m still living. I still wake up and get up and do. But it’s with great uncertainty and dread. I’m ok but I’m not ok as well.

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Memorial for Bourdain in front of his restaurant, Les Halles.