Saturday, June 25, 2011

Taking off the Mask.

I'm a Meisner Method actor.  Almost strictly.

The basic idea is that acting isn't putting on a mask, it's taking it off.

In acting, you are showing a piece of who you truly are, or all of who you truly are - baring yourself before the audience in a way that you could not or would not do in "reality". 

Since my first Meisner class (ten or so years, I'm old...), I've been on this mission to just never put the mask on.  But there's this problem.

There are these factions of my life that don't allow for other factions, and I'm not sure what to do with that.

For example, on this blog, I try to keep my language clean, I try not to talk too much about my parenting struggles or familial issues, I keep locations and names to a minimum, and I try to focus on a specific audience.  I don't discuss all of the faith struggles I've had in the past two years, but I do talk about my haircut, my body image, my dealings with women and men and feminism and God and how those things might fit together.  I don't talk about my daughter having an ear infection.  I don't talk about my overdue books at the library.  I leave out my organic gardening triumphs...  Things are parceled. 

It's not just with this blog (the blog is just a good example), it's with everything.

I'm not sure how to avoid it and still maintain relationships, though I'm working on this.

I've been trying to surround myself with genuine people so that I can learn from them.

So MANY people in this world are not genuine.  I think that's what makes it tough for me to be genuine around them.  Often, when I feel I should say something I keep my mouth shut so that no one will be offended.  I don't raise my hand each time I have the answer because the teacher will get annoyed and stop calling on me. I don't wear short skirts around former students.  I don't cuss in front of certain church people and family and my children (I don't have any desire to cuss in front of my children).  I don't call people out when I know they're wrong if I feel like it would break them or start an argument.

But "worst" of all, I don't speak up for people who aren't there when someone else is bashing them.

This became glaringly obvious just yesterday.

I was at my studio and someone came in to talk to me about another artist.  There was some discussion about this person's work and discussion about how artists were vs. should be accepted into the organization and I sat quietly and even nodded and spoke in agreement about this other person, and about what "everyone" else had discussed the day before.

The thing about it was, the entire time I was keenly aware that I could be the artist in question.  That maybe my work wasn't up to snuff and "everyone" was talking about that behind my back.  But instead of that driving me to stick up for this other person and say that this judgement passing was uncalled for and something in which I would not participate, I joined in.  I criticized.  I pretending to agree.  All so I could fit in.  So that the other artists would like me.  So I could feel like one of the "worthy" people. 

So I could be a cool kid.

I don't think that the artist talking to me is a horrible person with horrible intentions.  I don't want there to be any sort of contention between people whatsoever.  As far as I'm concerned, it's just amazing to be a part of a community of artists and hang out with creative types on a more regular basis.

After artist #1 left, artist #2 came in to work. 

We talked about the situation:

"I don't know, I just said I hadn't really seen [artist's] stuff and didn't really have an opinion.  I liked [one of the pieces].  I didn't know what to say."

"I told [the other artists] that I was here for positivity.  This is a place of joy for me.  I will not be a part of knocking someone else down.  If that's how it's going to be, I will leave.  I want to spread positivity, not negativity."

This floored me.

Why couldn't I say that when confronted? 

Why couldn't I stand up for the other person/s in question?  Why didn't I come out with the things I know are on my heart?  Why isn't it natural for me?

I felt convicted the entire rest of the afternoon at my studio.

I brooded over it.

I painted two pictures while I tossed things back and forth in my conscience.  I felt sad and angry at myself and at the situation.

I thought back on other times where I joined in the gossip or joined in the tearing down of someone else because I wanted to fit in.

I thought about the times I censored myself so that people wouldn't be offended by my "out there" beliefs or thought patterns.

I thought through all of this and came out on the other side feeling...well...empty.

It's something I'm striving to change about me.  It's slow going, and it's mostly uphill.

I don't know that I should be "the complete me" in front of everyone.  I think out of respect for some I'll continue to censor myself sometimes.  But in the situations where it's about hurting someone else or tearing down something that's important to me, I will work hard to not stand idly by, even if it means the loss of a relationship.  I think this thought train is worth the ride to the end of the line.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...