What’s the story we tell ourselves?

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So I just finished Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover and I definitely recommend it. What I liked about it is not because her story is CRAZY, because it is, but because I saw it as an examination of what is real and true.

A part I really resonated with was when she brought up Isaiah Berlin’s concept of Positive Liberty. As defined from the book: “positive liberty is self-mastery—the rule of the self, by the self. To have positive liberty … is to take control of one’s own mind; to be liberated from irrational fears and beliefs, from addictions, superstitions and all other forms of self-coercion.” I thought one of the strongest themes within the book was Tara’s struggle for positive liberty.

Tara grew up with survivalist, Mormon, Doomsday parents where their distrust in government prevented her from setting foot in a classroom until she was 17. When she finally did, she committed, learned, excelled and got a PHD in intellectual history and political thought. Her story is not only about navigating between two polarizing worlds, but also the struggle in which she was forced to choose between them. Spoiler alert: she chooses the woke/educated path, a path that ultimately ostracized herself from her parents.

While reading her book, I found myself groaning out of frustration because judging from my lens, being educated and woke myself, I found it maddening when she would have these internal dialogues of affirming her crazy parents’ convictions while denying her own experience, even thinking herself to be crazy to the point of academic withdrawal and mental breakdowns.

They were gaslighting her about her brother’s violence toward her and other women. Her parents were protecting him and condemning her and yet she would question her reality. Why? Why did their voices, their versions of events weighed more than her own? Why were they right and she was wrong? Why was making the decision to choose between her parents and herself so hard?

And then after that initial snap judgement fades away and her story really sinks in do I have compassion for her. I cry as I read on. She does not have positive liberty due to the internal constraints formed by her childhood and upbringing. And then I’m reminded of my mom.

My mom is one of 9 children. Being a part of such a large family, it’s easy to be left out and forgotten and I definitely saw my mom as that black sheep, so desperately trying to fit in when she did not, even into adulthood. Countless times I have told her she is different, they are different, why must she please them all? That’s impossible! Just be yourself and who cares what they think?

She’s in her 60s. And as loud and as often as I scold her, she’s not going to change. And then I catch myself. That unconscious desire to please everyone, to fit in even when you’re not meant to fit, has bled onto me. But I’m half my mom’s age now. I went to therapy, got educated, talked it out and fought and won positive liberty.

And so did Tara. Her situation is so extreme that her success in achieving enlightenment and positive liberty is noteworthy. The story she was telling herself was somebody else’s story. The shackles that held her down were from birth. The reality she believed was corrupt. And yet she managed to rise above it and fly. Writing this book, she is taking her life into her own hands, controlling the narrative, the reality and setting forth HERstory.




2013 to be even awesomer!

the other day i was looking over an old post of mine about my goals for 2012.  reflecting back on this year, i realized that i pretty much accomplished everything on that list!  i got into the union. i’ve been working/shooting on a webseries i’ve created (it’s still in the editing phase, so i’ll unveil it when it’s ready).  i got a great team, including a theatrical agent that believes in me and just in time for pilot season, a hardworking manager, and an incredible teacher/coach.  my teacher has even stated that i’ve improved and i do find myself much more confident in the audition room.  working on the craft, i’ve also read a few acting books and am about to finish an actor prepares that was also read by chris nolan.  making connections, i’ve gone to a number of casting director workshops and have met tons of CDs around town, so the seeds have been planted.  got this website going to feature my stuff too.  aside from all the acting and to add some more points on the creative front, i finished writing my first novel through nanowrimo, and i recorded two more rap songs (soundcloud.com/t-nacious).  all in all, i’m an OG!:D

but enough of patting myself on the back, i realized that by putting down my goals, i was able to accomplish them. thus, i will be doing the same for 2013 and we’ll just call it self-proclaim prophecies. 😉 in no particular order i will:

1. book at least one co-star role

2. go on at least three auditions/month (at least one theatrical audition/month, must submit myself more)

3. meet one person a month in the industry and make a connection (follow up with postcards, updates, letters)

4. edit webseries and launch a video a week starting in march (also to add on reel)

5. record rap video for one of my songs (probably for the f*ck you iceberg song and to add on reel too)

now as for my novel.  i know in my last post i said that it was scary to even think of letting someone else read my novel.  but one of my friends was very persistent and offered his expertise (he majored in english) to look it over and provide feedback.  here’s the thing, i really respect my friend’s opinion and i was afraid that if he were to read it and not like it, i would have to make peace that i had no right to write.  giving him the manuscript i told him to read the entire thing before he could say anything (who knows?  he could hate the beginning and maybe find redeeming qualities later?).  anyways, i was very apprehensive and nervous just waiting for his inevitable let down, and after a few days he sent me an email saying he … loved it.  hahahah!  yes! i know it doesn’t matter what other people think as long as you have confidence in your work, but to tell the truth, it doesn’t hurt to have someone else agree with you!  because i respect my friend’s opinion so much, and the fact that he likes my novel, only validates me and my work.  i can’t deny it feels great and gives me a great sense of self-confidence and pride.  of course there’s a ton of editing to be done and passages to add and rework, but he liked its core, its essence, its me-ness.  granted, he’s a friend, and i always feel friends are your personal fans, but so what?? i feel good! anyways, i’ve sidetracked and to bring it back, because of this boost of confidence, i have some self-proclaimed prophecies for this as well:

6. edit novel (find more peers to read it and find a professional editor)

7. find literary agent (research agencies, send query letters)

whew.  that’s 7 things to do in 2013.  i’m super excited and i think these things are totally achievable with hard work and a good attitude.  thank you 2012 you’ve been awesome, can’t wait for 2013 to be even awesomer!