Life Lessons From An ActorMarch 10, 2021 2021-09-04 18:32
Life Lessons From An Actor
Life Lessons From An Actor
I’ve always known that I was destined to perform, to create, to entertain in some shape or form. What I was not prepared for was the unimaginable way in which it would force me to confront myself; my insecurities, my vulnerabilities, my traumas and all the invariably unique ways our histories make us who we are. Naïvely, as a child, we equate the performer’s life as a grander version of getting up in front of the family and putting on our little show, with far greater applause and love emanating from our ever appreciative audience. What I have discovered is that it is in fact this very applause, this need to be loved and lauded externally that can lead to a disimpassioned and unfulfilling creative life.
To those on the outside the creative’s life looks compelling, filled with freedoms and self-expression that is surely envied by many and maybe they’re not wrong. Maybe they are on to something, but I would argue that we could all strive for the creative’s life regardless of our careers or vocation. Living a creative, free, impassioned life is just that, a way to live one’s life, and the pursuit of a career in the arts is something quite different and does not guarantee the former.
I made the assumption that if I pursued my passion all else would fall into place, that the universe would align itself and all that I had dreamed and longed for would land in my lap. That, somehow, I would find complete mental and emotional wellness in one fell swoop and finally feel the ever-evasive constant state of “happiness” and contentment we have all been taught to long for without doing any of the work. What followed, instead, was the lesson that sometimes your dreams find you when you are not at your “best” and that my chosen career would continually remind me that the healing and abundance I sought could be found in who I am right now without all the achievements and acclaim. That until I was able to be to be present and be present to what really surrounds me and what I have, I would always only see what I did not have. I would always wait for others to give me permission or wait for them to tell me that I was good enough to dare to dream, that only when they said I could or should, would I ever feel validated in my abilities and desires.
One can imagine that living a creative life that is reliant on other’s opinions and praise is surely a miserable one, where I would only be an artist if others deemed it so. My unhappiness did however provide me with an opportunity (following the obligatory wallowing) to seek out a life of greater freedom and joy. I realized that if I made my career success the measurement of how well I was doing psychologically, emotionally and physically I would always be left wanting. I needed to pursue a life outside of my job. I needed to feel that my life was full; of love, disappointment, experience, laughter, boredom, creativity, sadness and the rest of the array of feelings that make the human experience so unique. I had to ensure that I could pick myself back up so that when the inevitable rejections and disappointments came rolling in that I knew the life I am creating would always be there to provide much needed perspective and tell my ego to take the backseat.
In no way have I perfected this technique (it’s always a work in progress) nor am I immune to life’s sadness or its disappointments, but what has gotten easier is my ability to turn back to gratitude and being present to what I do have. How full my life is with creativity, passion and love on a set, stage or rehearsal room is not more important than feeling and finding these things outside of these spaces. I am more than my job, even if it is my passion, even if there is nothing else I can see myself showing up for every day.
I realise that I am incredibly lucky that I get to do what I love for a living, but I am vehemently determined to not have to be the suffering artist to feel anything deeply or punish myself so that my life has some purpose. I want to be able to vividly experience the joys of the transcendence, the vulnerabilities, the fleeting moments of bliss my work enables me to have and offer others. I do not want to hide behind the bags of “stuff” we all carry around nor do I wish to live a clinical, “sanitized” life that fails to acknowledge my flaws and history. I want a life riddled with stories of all kinds, happy and sad and all those in between, and my hope is to share some of the stories that live in me through my art but also through me.