Acting is about truth. It’s about being constantly in the moment. Out of your head, disregarded fleeting thoughts, forgetting everything aside from what’s happening right in front of you in this fantasy world you have helped build. Acting is letting all of your vulnerable, soft, gushy insides become bare, penetrable and unaware.
I was no novice to the stage, but when I found myself auditioning in front of a ridiculously talented director whose veins ticked alongside famous directors and movie stars, I couldn’t help but become a bit anxious. My anxiety, teeth grinding and O.C.D. were all now facets inside me that were so easily triggered due to recent traumas. I sat in the audition room, picking at my thumbs and ripping off my nails till my cuticles became tiny crimson rivers.
The me that was in that room felt so small and unsure post-catastrophe, putting so much pressure on myself to get a role in a play. I watched the other girls walk in and out of the theater, trying to listen, sizing up if they could potentially embody this character. My twenties had been no cakewalk and my ego was a softening peach left on the shelf for much too long. A bruised peach that was forgotten. A once sweet peach that had turned dark, disfigured and mealy.
The eerie connections between this character and my waking life made me the perfect candidate to play it, but also the worst. I had to face my traumas head-on. I had to face myself through the mirror of this character that flowed through the script. I had to be unassuming and just exist; which is hard for most people who are always hyper-aware of how people see them in this judgmental society past humans have created.
Sometimes when life makes it difficult to get out of bed, we blame ourselves of the random traumas inflicted upon us. As good, competent people we begin to believe that something must have triggered it, that we made a misstep. The all-random, all-horrific things can happen to anyone, which is a humongous pill to swallow in this vast universe. Our existence will always be tampered with. When I was cast as the lead, my excitement plummeted to terror. My lack of luck in the past seemed to cripple my hopes for the future.
Before the first rehearsal, I received an email from the director containing this sentence:
“Remember you were cast not because you are so different from these wonderful characters, but because I saw in you something that transcended the written word, you were cast because you are you.“
Throughout the process of the rehearsals, the director reiterated that we, as people, were enough. That we were there because of who we were, our existence; our bodies, minds, spirits just as they were, was enough for this play. For this life. I couldn’t remember the last time someone simply acknowledged my existence in a profound way. Even though I consider myself defiant and independent, growing up I was still scrambling to become better, to fit into other people’s molds of what I should be. I felt torn down and discouraged by the constant monotony of expectations. People who tried to tell me how to blend in like a chameleon, when I really always felt like a parrot trying to hide my unchangeable feathers, broke my heart repeatedly.
When I hear that I am enough, I hear my seven year-old self covered in freckles laughing. I see myself cupping a small bug into my hand and placing it on a branch instead of smashing its tiny body. I see my best friend Brittany, with her dark cherry red hair and her resilience comparable to Joan of Arc. I slowly begin to morph into my raw self, my best self.
When was the last time you really saw yourself?
I stood in the theater, locked into her crystal blue eyes, her white hair. This ethereal-looking woman was just like me: human. And she looked at me, unwavering, and said “You are enough.” I was enough. On this stage. On the street. Out with friends. I was enough just as I was. Flaws and insecurities and inability to ever fit in. Trauma behind me, I was going to be okay, just like my character. Because I was enough.
From the top of my skull to my pelvic bone, my body zipped and split open, my insides; soft, gushy, bare, penetrable and unaware were exposed once again. I found my safe place. I found myself. I took in a deep breath, acknowledging the cells in my body. Recognizing that my existence, my breath was all that I needed. My eyes traveled from her eyes to the pages of my script. As the air slowly passed my lips, I spoke the truth and became myself again.