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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Working Relationship

As my match.com experiment is coming to a close, I realize that I have learned quite a bit from dating. It wasn't anything I didn't already know but dating allowed me to put into practice my newfound standards, boundaries and ideals. I'm happy to say that I am no longer a desperate dater and I now have the experience and newfound confidence to prove it.

This freedom from desperate dating comes from knowing myself and enjoying my life. Its a lot harder to compromise myself into oblivion when I already love the life I am living. If a date doesn't call me I don't sit around thinking about all the things I might change about myself so that I would be more acceptable or attractive, I just shrug my shoulders and go look at the pumpkin vine in my backyard and marvel at how fast it is growing. I no longer expect first dates to lead to second dates which then lead to happily-ever-after. In fact, I don't expect some knight in shining armor to walk into my life, be perfectly compatible with me and sweep me off my feet. I'm just not worried about it.

Plus, its hard to sweep me off my feet without a struggle. I don't want to ride off into the sunset. I want to watch my garden grow and harvest the vegetables and carve jack-o-lanterns. I have roots and I have dreams and I'm not particularly keen on being carried off on a horse so that I can clean someone else's stables. 

I'm unwilling to give up the good things about myself in order to please or appease another person.

Lately, I'm having a parallel revelation in regards to my (nonexistent) acting career. I've spent so much time trying to be acceptable and marketable that I have totally forgotten who I am as an actor. I don't even enjoy acting. I don't even remember what good acting feels like. All I do is try and figure out what the agent, casting director, coach, client wants me to be. 

No wonder it isn't working out.

Just like any relationship-gone-wrong, I went into acting for love. I loved the way I felt when I was acting, I loved telling stories and I loved the way movies are made. I loved the collaboration and the project-centered work and I thought I had something to contribute. And I most likely did and I most certainly still do. 

But then came the advice. Relationships and acting are two things that everyone seems to unreservedly give advice on even if they suck at them themselves (look at me and all the relationship advice I give, for example)! Here is some of the advice I would constantly get as an actor: Why don't you change your image? Have nice nails, get a good haircut, look more asian, wear brighter colors, be skinny. Why don't you work on your audition technique? Don't blink too much, be confident, be relaxed, learn to speak with accents, learn to cheerlead, learn to ride a horse, learn martial arts. Why don't you: move there or move here or attend this function or that function or talk to this cousin of mine or that friend of my sister or why don't you hang out at this coffee shop? Why don't you take this class because the teacher is awesome and then you have to take that workshop because it will change your life and then you have to kiss this person's ass because it tastes like marshmallows. 

And in all this din, somewhere, was me. But I was fading by the second. No wonder I didn't feel confident and relaxed when I knew that inherently I had already screwed up by not having the right skills, the right personality, the right clothes, the right look

I don't know when it happened exactly, but over time this relationship stopped being about love and became about trying to be someone or something I am not so that I could be more attractive, more desirable, more bookable. And what for? What was I trying to attract? Did I really want to book that commercial with the cheesy script after all? How desperate was I for money/acceptance/success? How much money had I already spent on trying to improve my image or my resume? How much career success in other fields had passed me by while I was desperately trying to get ahead? How many days had I put off working on my car so I wouldn't have grease under my nails? How much of my own life had I sacrificed for this career and what was I getting out of it?


So I'm breaking up with show business. One day I'd like to be friends with it but on my own terms; with dirt under my nails and wearing Birkenstocks (I don't really own any Birkenstocks but I couldn't find a better way to sum up my lack of desire to look like a proper Hollywood actress). Right now I just have to spend some time with myself and find an acting class which isn't about technique or auditioning and is just about acting for the sake of acting. Because good stories are still worth telling. And somewhere inside me there is still a good actor and I really need to find her. 

Awesomely enough, in the synchronicity of single blogs, Christina at Onely posted a humorous bit today about her romantic entanglements with her writing (aka Mr. Mike Rosoft Word).


Stevi said...

I love this post! I think as far as dating you hit the nail on the head with things that many of us go throught and coming to the point of realizing that every date need not lead to "happily ever after", whatever that is.

And being comfortable with who you are and what you want in life is a hard place to get to and something I am always continually working on, just being happy with who I am and not trying to fit to anyone else's standards. And like you said, riding off in the sunset is not real or as good as it sounds.

I hope you can recapture your love of acting. Good luck with everything you do! Your great, keep us posted.

Megs said...

What a great post. You are truly an inspiration on how to figure life out. I'm so glad Susan told me to check out your blog.

Kahnee said...

Isn't it nice to grow wiser and more confident.

I pray you find a good acting class soon.

bobbyboy said...

Well, all I can say here really is congratulations! It seems you've had some positive revelations and are moving forward with them! I'm kind of jealous, but still happy for you :)

Anonymous said...

Wow, you know you've made me wonder if I should break up with Mike and take some non-writing time. Then I could always start up again later, as you can with acting.

Also, you're always talking about gardening so I wanted to ask a question--I am starting a garden and will be planting eggplants and cucumbers. Do you have any other suggestions for easy-peasy plants for someone who once killed a cactus (possibly the easiest plant other than bamboo to keep alive)?

Special K said...

I think "acting" is a major part of our social interactions in this culture...we've really learned to hide our own desires or muffle them into tiny hidden areas. This inauthenticity drives video/porn/food/shopping addiction and really superficial relationships...even friendships.
Excellent post!

The Singlutionary said...

I love all this feedback! Thanks everyone for being so encouraging.

Christina: I too have killed a cactus. I am actually a regular killer of succulents so its easier than one imagines!

In regards to planting, I put in tomato plants and they are doing well. If you have enough room for a pumpkin or watermelon (they spread out a lot) and get a lot of sun, mine are doing great. I also have a yellow squash which is pretty prolific. I didn't grow any of those from seeds, I got the little starter plants at the organic garden store for $2 each. I also have a little herb garden. Basil and mint and chives and oregano and thyme seem to grow pretty easily and don't need a whole lot of attention. I just water them regularly and they do their thing. Supposedly they all need full sun but I think its hot enough here that they're able to make do with about 5 hours instead of the desired 8.

Special K: I have so much to say about our culture and our falseness and pretending. And about our addictions. But I haven't found a way to feel positive about it or to put a positive spin on it yet so when I start writing about it, it just gets real depressing real fast. Still trying to figure it out!

Amy said...

Ditto - great post! I feel the same way about writing - I failed miserably at trying to mold myself into a "journalist" before realizing I hate writing that way - taking classes and blogging has put the joy back into it :)