Sunday, May 17, 2009

Acting and its role in life

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.

That was one of my favorite quotes as a young child, especially during my acting days. When I was a young child, one of my summer activities was a youth acting camp. I don't remember that much about the camp, but I must have enjoyed it. After that, I had the preconceived idea I would be a star actress one day, playing in movies, television or even Broadway. My parents went along with this idea and always told me how I was such a good little actress.

In elementary and middle school, I still enjoyed acting and played several different roles. In high school, I no longer auditioned for roles but helped out with sets every once in awhile. I found myself enjoying the "drama" crew, but at the same time, never really fitting in to the clique.

In my senior year of high school, the well known local teen theater put on a production of the musical "Tommy." I didn't audition for an acting/singing (horrible singer) part but rather a dancing part and was one of the good "spirit" entities of the young Tommy if you want to call it that. That production was probably one of the highlights of my entire high school career. I remember the director whom I had known through the youth acting camp tell my mother it was like coming "full circle," having known me as a young girl, learning about America to then a teenager, about to leave for college.

Anyway, I was reminded of my literal acting days after I read this blog post, asking if you are the star of your own life. Lynch, a performance coach, says:

You may feel as if you're a supporting character, randomly re-acting to circumstances beyond your control, but the truth is you are here, the play is going on and no one, including the most powerful 'characters' around you, have any more foreknowledge past what the very next line might be. So, in the play that happens today, you might as well be the star.

This is sometimes easier said than done. After all, which is easier: to be the bride or the bridesmaid? Personally, this has been a difficult thing for me. For much of my life, I've wanted to be the "bride," but yet, had a fear of being in the spotlight too. However, at the same time, I didn't always want to be stuck being the bridesmaid either. It felt like a no-win situation. So in essence, it seems like I'd easily want to be the star of my own life. But that too feels hard.

What Lynch says in his post is very inspiring, truthful, and offers a great metaphor for life. I guess I'm wishing I could think along those lines or really apply this to myself.

Then, I think of the role of the eating disorder in life and how well, in some sort of sense I became this great actress. After my terrible teen and early college years with ED, everyone thought I was past it, that it just went poof, and went away. At least this seemed the thinking of my father. And so after awhile, it felt easier to go along with that than to actually say how much I still struggled. Even to this day, it continues to only be spoken in a past tense.

My mom, on the other hand, may have some hints, but again doesn't press the issue. Our conversation last weekend went more like:

Mom: Well, your pantry looks a little bare.
Me: Really, I didn't think so.

After grocery shopping:

Me: Thank you for buying groceries.
Mom: Well, I just wanted to do my part. I know the dogs will eat well, but I don't know about you. But you have to eat to run.
Me: Yeah, I guess.

And so the acting goes on.

So, do you feel like you are the star of your own life? Do you feel like you are an impostor or that you are always acting?

Note:--*This post was kind of everywhere with many different thoughts. Hopefully, you can suss through it all.


Kathleen said...

This is such an interesting post. I have been thinking a lot about acting lately since I spent the last year at a conservatory training for theatre, but am now taking a year off. In thinking about acting, I think part of the draw for me is being able to be the star of something that is not my own life. I am really guarded and private in my real life, so acting is an escape for me where I get to be a person who is not in hiding. Even more than just being a normal person, I get to be seen by lots of people, but still non of them really know me. Its that thrill of being observed and scrutinized, but still having people know nothing about the real me. It is safer to be someone else than to live my life as who I really am. This is a fear that I'm trying to overcome now, so I can star in my own life as myself.

Kristina said...

This is a great post and definitely raises several interesting points.
I have certainly struggled with the "impostor" syndrome, feeling like a fraud and worrying how people would react when the mask slipped, when I stepped out of role and they saw me, warts and all.
Over the past few years, however, the space between the image that I present and the person who I am has shrunk.
I have begun to play with certain ideas, hopes, and dreams rather than shy away from actually hoping for something. It is a bit scary but mostly it's exciting to experience this shift and to be actor, director and producer.

Kim said...

Great post. A good friend of mine brought up this idea to me a while back, and I've been thinking about it ever since. She said she feels like an imposter and that resonated with me too. I have to think that all people feel like imposters at some point, in some way. We're all hiding something, acting, eating-disordered or not. Much of my shame with my ED comes from feeling like I'm so good at hiding it. It's kind of depressing to realize that, hey, I'm a damn good actress. And I'm totally fooling people if they really think I'm confident, competent, etc. That's when the loneliness comes -- who knows the real me?? Sometimes I don't even know if I do. That's the thing with EDs...they make you act with yourself, not just others. My goal with recovery isn't so much about gaining weight; it's about gaining back a solid sense of self, so I can go into the world feeling secure, without the need for masks and costumes.
Thanks for this.

Lissy said...

i was in plays from when i was young thru high school. as a young girl, i got lead parts -- the ingenue, the princess. then i gained sixty pounds and in high school got roles as the jolly fat friend. i hated that. i wanted to be the princess, but no one was going to cast me.

i understand about family not wanting to see. once i lost all the weight, plus thirty pounds, everything seemed fine and dandy. no one minded when i weighed 90 pounds, at 5'6, but they HATED it when i weighed 180. weird.

i wish heavy girls could play princesses (or queens!).

shannon said...

i want to invite you to my blog. send me an email and i'll do that.

i just read through a bunch of your posts. i relate.

i think about acting a lot. i don't ever want to be a fake person - yet there is so much of me that is on the inside, as is the case for most complex individuals.
i don't necessarily think it's 'acting,' but rather feeling misunderstood sometimes.
throw an eating disorder in the mix and all that this involves and i understand that struggle very well.

most people who question the quality of their authenticity aren't necessarily acting, in my opinion.

there are many layers to the soul.

Gaining Back My Life said...

I love that quote, also.

To be a bridesmaid, to be in the supporting role - there is so much less pressure than being in the starring role.

But the star - the bride - despite the pressure to
preform', to commit, to endure and face head-on, to be the first point of contact in war - brings with it incredible growth and strength.

That being said, I'll be the brides' maid, thank you very much.

Tiptoe said...

Everyone had great thoughts and brought up interesting points.

Kathleen, I can certainly see the allure of theater and acting for you. Playing ourselves is often times the most difficult, sometimes heartbreaking acting we do. To play someone else for awhile is like a reprieve.

But in the end, we are stuck with ourselves. I'm glad that you're working on overcoming your fears, so you can be the star of your own life.

Kristina, my wisdom buddy. I think there so many of us have an "imposter" fear syndrome. We become so afraid to show who we really are. Sometimes, I wonder where we all get this from?

It's so great that you've stepped out of the shadows and have begun being the actor, producer, and director of your life.

Kim, I agree, the hiding part makes the ED so scary and deceptive. Your goal for recovery is great--to become your own self again. I think we all tend to lose that in this illness and have to try to rediscover it.

Lissy, parents only see what they want to see, and it is hard when they reinforce the unhealthful images.

Shannon, thanks, I'll send you an e-mail. You make a good point that it's not always acting but rather feeling misunderstood. I think there are a lot of people like that. You are right that there are many layers to the soul, each with its own presence.

GBML, being the bridesmaid can definitely be easier but at the same time, the supportive role can be tough too. It's all a balancing act.