Funny how when you shut up and listen you realize that life is giving you lessons. My most recent life lesson came by way of words of the hurtful nature. In the last several weeks I have been met with harsh criticism in multiple aspects of my life (e.g., acting in community theatre, singing at my Grandma’s wedding, this very blog you are reading, my awesome white girl dance moves). This post isn’t about the “who said what”, but it is about the “how”: how I brushed myself off and am turning these recent criticisms into an honest realization about myself.
First off, I have to thank my brother Steve. After this story you will see why special kudos go to him.
I was in a show recently. The play was a thriller. My part: the wife. Was it my favorite acting role? Did I invest as much time into “becoming” the character as I should have? Was it my top priority? I can answer all of these questions with one simple word: No. However, I did show up. I learned my lines, I was at every rehearsal and tried to fall in love with “Myra” (my character’s name). Alas, Myra and I just didn’t make a love connection. My life was work and rehearsals (as anyone involved in community theatre knows). Laundry piled up, dishes piled up, and I even missed a big family function the night before my Grandma’s wedding to be at a much needed rehearsal. When you volunteer your time and talent for a local theatre production a LOT of sacrifices are made, but the end result is worth it.
Opening weekend came and went. The audiences were fantastic and it was so great to be a part of a story that we were telling to these crowds. Then came Monday. Finally a day to just be me again.
My brother Steve and my sister-in-law Kelsey were still in town and wanted to go to a sushi place I had been telling them about. P (who I failed to mention was also in the show and did a terrific job) was also set to meet us for dinner. When the four of us all met up, P told me that there was a review of the show up on youtube. My excitement turned to sadness when P told me not to watch it. Well what do you do when someone tells you not to watch something? Uh duh, you want to watch it. So I did. Damn smart phones. I watched the youtube video review in the middle of a sushi restaurant (crowded but fairly quiet). The review was good of the show, but it slaughtered me. It may not have been my favorite character to play but I still invested a lot of time into being a part of this show. Like any woman, I was pissed initially but in actuality my feelings were hurt. Then I cried. This restaurant was now filled with a sea full of sushi and my tears.
Steve and Kelsey laughed awkwardly and were asking me, “Are you seriously crying in public right now?” Yes. Yes I was. P had no reaction as he is used to my crazy. Also it must be mentioned that I am not drinking this month as part of my “Fast Food Fast”. So my crazy just got a whole lot crazier since I was crying not only in public but I was sober.
Steve (and this is where the kudos come in) said “You have guts. You have guts to get up there in front of people like that.”
It was a quick thought that he voiced, but it calmed my crazy. It made me realize that I do have guts. Guts to put myself out there where it is so easy for others to sit and judge.
As a child, I was painfully shy. I wasn’t quiet, I was shy. I wanted to say things in class and joke with classmates, but the fear of being rejected by others kept me from speaking my mind and being me. Then as my childhood turned into puberty/young adulthood the fear of not doing something started to outweigh the fear of doing it and being judged by others. In junior high I joined the band. In high school I joined the choir and the flag team (I don’t think it needs to be mentioned that I spent many Friday nights with my Mom). In college I not only got into theatre and speech, but majored in them. I was finding my voice, albeit slowly, and starting to love it.
The truth is the people I envy most in this world aren’t the rich or famous. They aren’t the girls at the gym who have gorgeous bodies (quite frankly I admire them for it) or those that seem to have it all together. The people I envy most are the people who wear themselves and the skin they are in so well. Those that not only march to their own drum but rock that drum beat. I envy the people who know who they are and not only accept it but embrace it. When I grow up I want to be one of those people.
Now in my early 30’s I am not only finding my voice but I am actually starting to love the sound of it. At work I tell bad jokes to my co-workers and the telemarketers that call the office. I have the ability to be deliciously awkward in social situations. I dabble in community theatre, sing at family functions, write honestly on this blog, and try to “twerk” the best I can for a white chick. This skin I am in is starting to feel like it was made just for me.
So what is the life lesson I learned in all of this and would like to share with you? The reason why I feel like I am being criticized more often is because I am putting myself out there more, and that takes guts.
My parting message for you tonight is this: Go out and share the parts of yourself (within reason) to the world that you are willing to. People are going to criticize, judge and just be plain ol’ mean. Let them. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and more importantly everyone is entitled to be true to themselves. So instead of crying into your California Roll go be YOU!
Stepping off this soapbox and signing out,