Beginning as a Beginner

I woke up feeling the strong grasps of failure. Tired was strangling my pride and I found myself thinking poisonous negative thoughts. My inner critic was outraged to see all my hard earn self-respect and motivation dissolving in intimidation. I told myself that wasn’t ok. I needed to find the energy, because I had worked hard on this piece. I’d sat and watched amazing actors get torn down for lack of motive, lack of understanding, lack of commitment.  I was going to learn from them. I’d spent hours agonizing over word for word memorization, content, intent, emotions, and character. And I’d felt the weight of this task over my head telling me to put myself out there, and grow. I wanted to take a risk. No way in hell was I going to back down because I lacked the self-esteem to try.

And so I fought through my day. I was going to prove something to myself. I was going to step foot in the world of the beginning actor, and put myself out there. I was going to be proud of my efforts. I’d made the process worth it.

So I stepped out on that stage, and I ignored the bright lights shinning on my every flaw. I didn’t see the judging eyes as I searched for a single solid spot in the center of the back of the room to focus on, and I released all my effort into loud energy, heartfelt emotion, and desperation.

And then relief as I committed to the last word, and the stage fell silent. Blank faces looked upon my breathless expression with blank, awed expressions, and I smiled.

Then the controller of the room caste down her judgment.

She said she couldn’t understand my words. I needed to articulate, focus on the consonants. And instant self-criticism hit hard. She hated it. There was nothing she could expand on, no motive or emotion prodding activities to activate my abilities with, because she couldn’t understand my message. I wasn’t ready for such advanced critiques. I couldn’t even start to being acting, because my words were uninterpretable. I was screaming silently out of my lips.

And so she made me go through the whole thing again, slowly, sitting. And she then critiqued my pronunciation, and word flow. She stopped me countless times, and I found myself thinking, “really? You can’t understand that? Because everyone else seems to.”  I suppressed those thoughts because she was the experienced actor, and even if I couldn’t see it surely there must be improvements, and it would train me better.

She made me stand and act the whole piece silently, and I was watched in awe. But it didn’t count anymore because I wasn’t allowed to act until I could speak.

And then she granted my permission to act, both physically and vocally, and my brain went haywire. There was movement and sound dragging my attention in opposite directions, and she snatched my chance to grow by saying I was done. I didn’t need to finish the piece, she had heard enough. In other words, I wasn’t worth her time because I wasn’t good enough to grow.

I stepped off the stage numb. There wasn’t the glow of adrenaline I’d hope to achieve through this brutal experience. There was disappointment. All I’d striven o show was tossed to the wayside because my words weren’t understandable. I wanted to see my efforts as more than a waste of time.

I sat back down in the dark among the other actors; my moment in the shinning spotlight wasted, and watched the next girl called to the stage. She blew my mind. She perfected emotion, and content, and character. She was fantastic and my heart throbbed just a little as I thought of my own failure. It was then I reminded myself I was a beginner, and the self-hate lessened.

Then watching her up there made me wonder how many failures she had gone through, before she came to glow today. Perfection didn’t come naturally. Otherwise there would be no challenge.

The girl received her critiques, and fought to conceal her frustration as she too felt her effort undermined.  There was so much there that wasn’t appreciated, and I felt her pain. But it occurred to me she wasn’t onstage to be worshiped, she was there to grow, and it was through this she was gaining strength.

A part of me wanted to say away from the bright temptation of the stage, and say I wasn’t one to glow in the light. But the entire struggle only made it more motivating to burst through the other side accomplished. I realized I wanted it. Challenge accepted, I was going to start as a beginner, and make the struggle worth it.



The End

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