Tag Archive: dreams


Thoughts on Taking a Step Back

I read something recently about “earnest prayer.” I’m not, nor have I ever been, religious but I will admit that sometimes I long for the solace of prayer and believing that there is someone there listening. Sometimes I find life so overwhelmingly complicated that I yearn to be able to put it in the hands of someone else. Unfortunately for me, I just can’t bring myself to really believe in a higher power nor do I even believe that everything happens for a reason. I believe that you make what happens and that sometimes pure chance either helps you out or knocks you down. Nonetheless, this earnest prayer that I was reading about was from a lifelong actor who prayed that her call to the theatre would be taken away from her until she was ready to go back to it and this struck a chord with me.

I’ve been out of theatre school for the better part of two years and have done exactly one project that I cared about. One single project that filled my artistic cup and made me remember all the reasons I got into this messy life in the first place. Sure, I’ve worked on half a dozen shows in this time period but most of them were the bottom of the barrel. Take-what-you-can-get kind of stuff and I can’t seem to “get” anything worth doing. I feel out of my element and lost. I feel like I’m drowning in the overwhelming task of making a life in the theatre. I love it. I do. There is nothing in life that gets me more passionate and feeling more alive than working on something that I love but all of these projects I’ve been doing just to do something have left me feeling drained, frustrated and hopeless. Which is why, lately, I’ve been wondering if this is the right path for me and why reading about that prayer nearly brought me to tears.

I’ve been considering the idea of just giving up. Of packing up my vocal warmups and my transitive verbs and my clown nose and putting them in a box in the darkest corner of my proverbial closet but every time I get close to a decision I get scared. I’ve done basically nothing with my life in the last 16 years that didn’t revolve around theatre. I don’t have any other passions in life. There are other things I like, other things I enjoy but there is nothing else that I have ever encountered that makes me feel the way theatre does. So if I give that up, what do I have? And if I give that up, how do I hold on to my pride and my identity? What will my theatre school friends think? How many I-told-you-so’s will I have to listen to from my friends and family who have always thought I was out to lunch to even go to theatre school in the first place?

I know I could never give it up forever. That is not an option but I am exhausted from failure. I have completely and totally failed in pursuing my dreams and while that is not necessarily a bad thing (all good theatre emerges from failure, after all) it is demoralizing and I can feel my spirit breaking. I just need a break. I need some time to figure out what I really want in life and to revitalize my will to get there. Writing this down is the closest I have ever come to speaking these words out loud. And, of course, we all know that saying it out loud makes it real. I’m still not ready to do it for real, I don’t think, but I’m getting closer. So, I guess in a way, this is my version of an earnest prayer and boy is it ever scary.

I wish that somehow this could be easier or that someone could just hand me a neat and tidy solution but life’s not like that. There are no pamphlets or neon signs or perfect little ribbon-y bows, there is just a mess of desire, emotion and fact that never seem to get along. But If I can’t find revitalization from what I love then maybe the only answer is to leave it be. I’ll come back to it, I know I will, but maybe, just maybe, now is not the right time to be in it.

Thoughts on Settling

I have a problem, an internal conflict that has been raging for months, possibly even years.

I believe whole heartedly in being where you are and accepting your situation. It’s important, I think, to make the most of what you have. This is where you are right now so why spend all your time wishing you were somewhere else, doing something else, being someone else? It’s a waste of energy and you are never going to be happy if that’s all you do. Right?

I believe whole heartedly in not settling. It’s important, I think, to go after what you want. To not settle for your temporary job because it’s safe and you can pay the bills. To not settle for your city because it’s convenient and familiar. Everyone has dreams and I believe fully in following those dreams. If you want to climb mountains, you’ll never be happy sitting at a desk. If you want to make art, you’re never going to be happy pushing paper. So don’t settle, pursue your dreams even though they’re hard and seem unattainable. You’ll never know until you try and if you still don’t get there, at least you gave it your all.

So, you see, I have a problem. I believe, with all my being, in two very opposite ways of living your life. On any given day I am fully committed to one or the other. I can’t decide which one I believe in more because I don’t want them to be mutually exclusive. I want there to be a way to find balance. You have to pay the bills but you have to keep your soul alive too. But how? How do you have a full time job when following your dreams can be a full time job all on its own? I’ve been wrestling with this for what seems like forever and I still don’t have an answer.

 I spent months being miserable at a job I loved. Oxymoronic? Maybe, but I was growing restless and the politics of it all were getting in the way of enjoying the work I loved. So I quit. I just up and quit one day and moved on to something else. And now I’ve been in this new position a mere three weeks and I’m ready to move on again. I don’t love this work, I’m hardly making more money than I was before and I miss the work family I had built at my old job. But am I just experiencing growing pains? Should I push through the misery and accept where I am? Should I embrace the time I have to read and write and think? Or should I kick this place to the curb and spend some time actively pursuing my long-term goals? I meditate on this question for hours every day and I still don’t have an answer.

Maybe the answer is, I’ll never figure out the answer. And either way, I don’t think there’s a one size fits all answer. Every situation, every dream, every person are different and that’s what makes it so hard. I can’t just hit up Dr. Google for the cure. My parents are pretty smart folks but they can’t tell me what’s right and wrong anymore. My boyfriend is supportive and caring but he can’t fix this one for me no matter how much he wants to. Maybe the answer is that I’ll never figure out the answer and I just have to plug along as best I can. I know I can’t get too comfortable in a place I know I don’t want to stay but the tricky part is knowing how long to accept where I am before going after what I want again. For now, I’ll just sit here with my tea and my long, boring days and bide my time.

 

It’s been one year since I moved home after graduating university. One year of not being a student. One year of living with my parents. One year of being in the same city I grew up in. One year of being apart from a lot of the most important people in my life. And I’m still not okay with it. I’ve been struggling with what to say for a couple of weeks and I’ve still come up short. I want to be able to write about how this past year has enlightened me and I’ve grown into a happy, go-getting graduate but in reality, when I looked back at what I wrote six months ago, it still felt pretty accurate. On paper, my life still sounds great. Actually, even better than it did six months ago but I’m still not satisfied and I’ve spent a lot of time being very frustrated by this and trying, desperately, to figure out why. And then when all of this year’s grads were posting their pictures I saw one with a quote that really resonated with me. It said:

“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place. Like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place because you’ll never be this way ever again.”

And then I understood, at least in part, why I’ve been longing so desperately to go back to the school days since the second I left. There are many reasons but that quote explains something I was never able to put my finger on until I read it. While the student version of myself was deeply flawed and probably not the “best” one, there are many things I liked about that person that stayed there and didn’t come home with me. Student-me was carefree (my friends would scoff at this but I’m talking in relative terms here!), adventurous, an occasional party animal completely ready to let loose and willing to bend the rules sometimes. She always had time for friends and never turned down a beer and a chat at the local bar. She occasionally turned down work in favour of sleep or a fun time with fun people but still worked when it was necessary and remained a reliable, go-to employee. Student-me was passionate and driven and creating constantly. She was fit. She had goals and aspirations and real plans to get there.

Post-grad me isn’t any of those things and when I take the time to look at myself instead of at my circumstance I’m even more unhappy with who I’ve become. I never see my friends because I’m always working. I miss things that are important to me because I put work above all else. I’m not creating, I’m not excited about my current or upcoming projects because I don’t have any. I never turn down work so I’m always short on sleep and lacking fun. I’ve completely thrown health and fitness out the window and try as I might to get back on track, I never try hard enough. My goals and post-grad plans have fallen by the wayside in favour of “surviving” right now. I’m always stressed; about work, about money; about completely fictional scenarios I create in my head and believe to be real. This is not the person I want to be but I feel stuck in this panicky rut of having to work all the time because I don’t make enough to work normal hours and still get by. (Completely and utterly false because living with one’s parents is very cheap.) I don’t know how to get out of this rut but at least now, I know that I’m in it.

Don’t get me wrong, the year hasn’t been all bad. Despite the overwhelming feelings of being trapped and standing still I have enjoyed parts of it and I have certainly learned some things. Here are a couple of them, lest it seem as though I’ve been completely useless for an entire 12 months:

  • Sometimes you have to put yourself in highly uncomfortable situations for a short time to reap the rewards in the long term. I was really good at this in the first couple of months and it led to some wonderful experiences and opportunities but in recent months I’ve fallen back into complacency and become the excuse maker I once was but it remains a very true lesson.
  • Work is not everything. Saying no is okay. No matter how much you love your job it is not worth sacrificing other things that are important to you or that excite you. Don’t take on so many shifts don’t stay late out of obligation, stand up for your time because it is just as valuable as anyone else’s. That’s not to say never take on extra work or never stay late when they need it but just remember that doing those things is a choice not a job requirement and you are allowed to say no. (A lesson I am aware of but do not heed often and must continue to remind myself of in Year 2.

I’m trying very hard to be positive because that is something that My First Year lacked a great deal. I’ve spent a lot of time living in the past, wishing things were the way they were before and being overwhelmed by my nostalgic emotions. I hope that I can find it in myself to take back the parts of the person I was at school that I liked and discover parts of this self that I like as well. I hope that I can work less and play more and I hope that I can start to strengthen the friendships I have here in town rather than longing for the ones that are out of reach for now. I hope I can spend time learning new things and going after the things I want out of life rather than sitting complacently by. Here’s to creating, here’s to growing and here’s to the start of Year 2!

Thoughts on Being Here Now

Be here now.

I first came across this saying in the 11th grade. My drama teacher, whom I was fairly close with, was getting it tattooed on her wrist in Sanskrit. (It remains, to this day, one of the coolest tattoos I’ve ever seen) The saying has been stuck in my head pretty much ever since. Like a song lyric that won’t go away but it’s a constant reminder of something that I am not very good at. I don’t live in the moment, I plan and schedule everything to the point where I plan when and for how long I need to sleep in three to four day increments to make sure I’m getting at least six hours a day. It’s completely outrageous and probably unnecessary but it’s the way I’ve always operated.

But over time I’ve come to realize it’s not just about living in the moment. It’s about accepting where you are at any given time. That’s not to say you shouldn’t dream or make plans for the future, those things are fine. But those things are only productive and positive if you’ve accepted where you are first. As I was laying down to a pre-planned nap today this saying popped into my head again and I think that’s because it’s extremely apropos to where I am in my life right now.

If you had looked around my room in university you would see things everywhere. Show posters, quotes, calendars, schedules, pictures of friends and family covered the walls. I lived in that room. If you looked around my room now you’d see only two things on the wall: my calendar (colour coded, of course) and one, single poster that I got for my birthday and didn’t put up for a month. I don’t live in this room, I’m staying in it. Which is sort of silly and very sad because this has been my bedroom for my entire life but ever since I came back to it I haven’t committed to being here now. I’ve been so focused on how unhappy I am with my current situation and so determined to get out of it that I’ve made my home feel transitional and temporary. In a way, it is. I don’t plan to live with my parents forever (and I’m sure they don’t plan to let me stay forever) but this is where I am right now. There’s no shame in it, there’s nothing wrong about where I am it’s just not where I want to be. But until I can accept where I am now, I’m never going to be able to take productive steps to change anything because I’ll just remain depressed and unmotivated.

Be here now might be easy for a lot of people but nothing about it is easy for me. I always want something else, something better than what I have. Part of that is determination and drive to accomplish the things I want to accomplish in my life but the other, darker part is that I have trouble seeing how good things right now. I have a lot of dreams but avoiding acceptance of where I am currently, is my way of protecting myself from failing at those dreams. The problem is, if I never even try, I’ve already failed. If I do try, yeah, I might fail but I might succeed and get exactly what I want and things I never even dreamed of in the first place. The road to anything begins with acceptance.

 

भवात्राधुना

*I do not speak Sanskrit and this was found via Google, from what I understand this is a correct translation but it may not be