None of us are all one thing. Nobody's always rational or forever positive or perpetually shy. Who we are shifts shape according to our surroundings, expanding and diminishing as needed. It's the push-pull between different parts of ourselves that makes everything so hard and wonderful and worth it.
Writing and acting — though similar in so many rich, fulfilling ways — awaken two opposing pieces of my personality. In both forms I aim to share a story, but my role is entirely different in each case. For years I struggled to decide between the two pursuits, knowing full well that I'd rather give 100% to one thing than half-strive for two. I waded in the gray area for as long as I could, unwilling to give up one dream for the sake of another. In the wake of a loss and a beginning and a chance, though, all signs pointed to writing.
Language allows me to indulge my most perfectionist, down-to-the-details self. It isn't the case for every writer, but for me, language is all about control, precision, sharp edges and crisp corners. Never have I been able to free write, because heaven forbid I pass through a sentence before it's exactly what I'd like it to be. I find a thrill in the game of writing, obsessing over each sound and syllable and syntax until I'm sure it's what I'd imagined. I edit as I write, carefully arranging words in an effort to fine-tune my thoughts, make sense of my ideas. In writing, I set my feelings to a rhythm that's clear and steady and easy to follow.
The stage doesn't allow for such control. For starters, nothing I do onstage belongs only to me. It belongs to whoever's onstage with me, too, whoever's written the words, whoever's directed the movements or built the set or bought a ticket and watches from their seat. The theatre is a community, part of a group effort, and acting is at its finest when control's been swept aside by instinct.
In a perfect world, you learn the script until each and every line become second nature, a knee-jerk reaction so natural and intuitive that the scene itself begins to feel real. For me, the joy of acting comes from stepping outside of myself, the liberating feeling of following my gut without any chance to stop or question or analyze or reconsider. It's freeing and playful and completely, blissfully out of my control.
It was only recently that I decided to start acting again, and already I'm remembering the push-and-pull of my two greatest passions. Already I'm remembering the intrigue, the challenge.
I resolved to do the things that scare me most. Funny how quickly fear can turn to comfort.
(Photo: The Theatre Studio | My Instagram)