Monthly Archives: January 2014

Eighth Post……..identifying with a character

I finished a movie trilogy today and I feel bittersweet about it. I love the Cornetto Trilogy by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, and I finally watched the third movie, The World’s End. I really liked it, just like the other two. While the third movie was not as funny as the first two, the message of The World’s End hit home a lot more for me. The main character, Gary King, is living in the past. Convinced that his life only got worse after he graduated high school and almost finished their epic pub crawl, he gathered his old friends back together again to try and make it through the entire pub crawl. Thinking that it would make his life complete and that he would finally accomplish a past goal by finishing the pub crawl, maybe he could stop living in the past if he could just finish what they’d started over 20 years ago.

I identify with this character because I feel like my life peaked in high school too. My junior year was the best year of my life. I performed in 4 shows my junior year of high school (3 of them lead roles), headed up many crews, and won one of the top awards for the drama department that year. I felt like I was really accomplishing something with my life and was really looking to the future. I got accepted into a special Senior only drama class that was a big bump to my early resume, and I was getting my applications together for several performing arts colleges on the east coast. My grades were good, and my future was wide open. I was at an end-of-school year party and we were all sitting around talking and I remember saying “What if life can’t get any better than this?”

My senior year was much worse. My mother was diagnosed with lung cancer and started an aggressive schedule of chemo. Because of this, my family needed me to stay close to home, so I had to go to a local college instead of the one on the east coast that I had already been accepted to. The good auditions that I had in my junior year mysteriously went away. I was cast in one moderate role and one minor role for the whole year. My confidence in my own abilities became shaken because I wasn’t seeing the difference in my acting that the director’s were now seeing. My girlfriend became pregnant and we fought over what to do. My father and I fought over what I wanted to do with my life. Watching my mother slowly deteriorate changed my father’s point of view and he became hyper-critical of my plans to get a theatre degree instead of supportive. My life was falling part. I ended my grade school years on a much different question than the year before. I left high school begging “I hope life can’t get any worse than this.”

I often question my choice to become a drama teacher as a pathetic plea to relive my own glory days from high school. Like the main character in The World’s End, I often feel like I left things unfinished and no matter what I do in my career I can never live down the disappointments that happened at the end of high school. I like that the character finds redemption and meaning by the end of the story. It makes me feel like even I could find redemption and meaning in my life. However, I don’t like that the world really did have to end for that redemption and meaning to be found. Does this mean that I have to “blow up” my world to find meaning? Am I brave enough to actually try and find out? Hmmm.

Seventh Post…Stop getting in my own way

I had someone ask me what my main sources of stress in my life were and I immediately responded with “My job, Grandma Pie’s poison attitude, the baggage of Mrs. Pie’s worthless sister-in-law, and the continuing illness of my daughter, Pielette.” After I was done listing off those four quick answers though, a new thought popped into my head about what else has been causing me stress lately and it was from a familiar but surprising source. I have been stressing myself out a lot recently with thoughts of dreams that I’ve always wanted to accomplish and how I even started a few of them, but have since lost time, energy and motivation to complete them.

It started earlier this year when someone that I went to high school with ended up with my dream job. He’s a professional actor on a well known and critically acclaimed TV series. Now, he’s not the lead character, but he’s a decent sized supporting character and I’m sure he’s making quite a lot of money from this show. Naturally, I am insanely jealous of him. After I saw him in one episode, I looked him up and he’s in the remaining episodes of the season, and his role on the show is growing. I couldn’t handle it and I had to stop watching the show. Every time the title of the show is mentioned in the news, I cringe in jealousy. I ache with regret that I never chased my childhood dream of becoming a professional actor and that this guy that I knew in high school and was in several plays with as well, was now living my dream. I became depressed for many months. I’m actually fighting off depression as I type this just from remembering how difficult it was earlier this year to see someone I knew living my dream. Other actors don’t bother me because they don’t seem real. Like they’ve had a separate magical life that led them specifically to those parts and it was fated to happen. I had no control over it.

But then this person that I know shows up on screen. He’s real. I know he’s real. Now I am faced with the fact that I failed to live up to my dream because I didn’t follow through on it. I failed my life’s goal that I’d had since childhood and there was no possible way of ever achieving it in my lifetime. I failed thoroughly and completely. I am a failure. I’d been hiding and running from problems since I graduated high school. I was barely able to scrape together enough credits to get my degree. Everything from my past was my own fault and choosing. Every bad choice was my fault. Every job I was fired from was my fault. My current situation of horrible circumstances was my fault. My entire world and mind came crashing in on me. I wanted to die.

I’ve since replaced those failed goals with other ones. Smaller in nature, and things that should be easier to achieve, but I have failed to reach those goals as well. Whenever I think about the future, I feel hollow. I’m afraid to make any goals because I’ve failed so often and I don’t want to feel that way ever again. So I’m at the point where I’m considering exchanging my goals again. Downsizing, if you will. But the problem is what happens if I fail to reach these goals as I’ve failed to reach so many goals before? Do I just keep lowering my expectations of myself until I find the baseline of goal complexity that I can reach or until the desire to have goals at all just goes away completely? What happens if I reach that point? Do I philosophically cease to exist? Will I have dumbed myself down to the point of complete ambivilance?

This self-loathing and doubt ends up causing me a lot of stress and worry, and I’m bringing it on myself. While this means that I am extremely stupid for doing this to myself for so many years, acknowledging it means that I can fix it and stop getting in my own way. That is a good thing.

I’ve trained myself to give up on tasks and goals that become too difficult to achieve. If something doesn’t come easy to me, then I give up. It wasn’t meant to be. I even have a twisted logic to this line of thinking. People who are exceptional at something are said to be “born to do it” and that the particular exceptional skill “just comes easy/natural to them.” So, if something is difficult to me, then I am not a natural at it. Therefore, I can’t be exceptional at it and should not waste my time on something where I can’t be exceptional. One of the problems with this line of thinking is that most everyone picks up the basics of life easily, but to really master those life skills, it will become difficult to achieve and you have to work at becoming a master. This is also where I fail.

I’ve been told that I am very smart. However, I am not a master of anything. When anything becomes difficult to do, I run away. I give up. I want to be able to master something and have it be easy. As soon as something seems like work, I lose interest. This is probably why I give up on a lot fo my life goals. I am able to start them with ease, but when I hit a difficult patch or a roadblock, I just don’t think it will be worth my time and I give up.

I think it goes back to fear. I’ve seen people pour their hearts into something and when they succeed, they are happier than I have ever been or could possibly be. It looks like a dream come true. However, I have seen people pour their hearts into something and when it fails, it’s a disaster. Lives, families and friends are torn apart. Everything can be lost and people hurt more than I have ever or will ever hurt. This terrifies me. I just can’t bring myself to pour my heart into to something and risk failure when I’ve seen the damage it can do.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to take that risk. I guess that means I may never be able to improve in this area. I may always end up stressing myself out for not being able to live up to my dreams and what I feel my life should be.