WHEN THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS OUT OF YOUR CONTROL
For most of my life that I can remember, I have been plagued by low self-esteem. I was insecure about my body, my looks, my intelligence, and my talent. I would scan desperately through magazines and movies looking for someone among the women I found there who I thought looked a little chubby, like me. I remember being so excited the first time I saw Allison Pill in a movie, because her cheeks were round like mine. But she wasn’t the lead in that movie, she was the friend of Lindsay Lohan, who was skinny, tan, and beautiful.
This was particularly troubling to me, because I wanted to be an actor. I had been involved in theatre basically since I could talk, and it was heaven to me. I continued to study and love theatre as I grew up, but over time, I (of course) experienced rejections. I would not get parts I wanted, and instead of seeing that there are many reasons why that might happen that had nothing to do with me, I blamed myself. I convinced myself that every person that had told me that I was talented or that had given me a part was lying or just being nice. I told myself that my body was unacceptable for the stage and that I would never be beautiful enough to act professionally. I took the helplessness that I felt and turned it inwards as anger and resentment towards myself for being unable to make myself more talented and skinny.
I didn’t fully give up on theatre. I continued to study it throughout high school and college, but I sort of voluntarily and subconsciously took myself out of the running. I would still take acting classes, but I treated them like a side hobby and focused more on my back up plans. I graduated with a degree in theatre, but I had no earthly idea what I wanted to do with it.
But recently, with the help of my amazing therapist, I realized that losing my dream had been entirely self-inflicted. I had decided somewhere in the back of my mind that it would be less embarrassing to choose not to do what I loved than to be rejected by it. I blinded myself by focusing on the things that I thought were wrong with me, instead of seeing all the ways that I was talented. I was bending over backwards trying to think of something else I could do with my life that would make me half as happy as acting does, instead of loving myself enough to believe that I had a chance.
Obviously it is not going to be easy, and there is still a very high chance that I won’t make it, or that this career won’t actually be enjoyable to me. There are going to be a lot of things that are out of my control, but I know now that I have the tools to resist the temptation to turn my frustrations inward. If I don’t end up being happy as an actor, I also know that I am smart and hardworking and brave enough to try something else.
These realizations are something that I am continually working on. I sometimes still feel suffocated by the feeling that I’m fooling myself by thinking that I’m talented or that my body is beautiful. But those insecure thoughts are a habit that I am gradually getting rid of, and now there are days when the truth shines through and I can see that I deserve to be here and do the work I love. And those days make the struggle worthwhile.
INSECURE: THE FEELING THAT ALL OF YOUR DEEPEST FEARS ABOUT YOURSELF ARE NOT ONLY TRUE, BUT VISIBLE AND OBVIOUS TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW.
I celebrate: loving myself and my journey.
A Note on Mental Health: Go to therapy!!! Every single person on the planet should go to therapy. If you can’t afford traditional therapists, there are websites that offer remote counseling, and many clinics offer therapy on a sliding scale basis based on your financial situation. Even if you can only go once a month it is so worth it and absolutely life changing.