In Defense of Grief: Tales from a 34-Year Old Acting Student (Act 1, Scene 2)

In January of this year, when I decided to cultivate my long-lost love affair with the theatre, I had no idea what a monumental influence this journey would be in my life. Surely, it would get me out of the home office, allow me to be creative, and be a rich growth experience.

And, I would totally be in control. Super evolved. Of course, right? Everything would pan out exactly how I envisioned. Right? Right? [echo]

Uh, not so much. In Scene 1, I shared the beginning of my thespian journey, and as I’ve said before: the plot thickens. And keeps thickening. Scene 2 begins with me receiving a very unexpected call-back from the first audition. The one I was certain I had bombed. Hard.

After coming home from first auditions, I lament my sordid tale to Mr. Smith and explain that I was totally at peace with not getting a call-back. Then, I see a local number calling my cell at an ungodly hour. I answer to find a sweet voice informing me that they would like to see me read again tomorrow night.

Well, shit.

I was secretly hoping I had pushed myself enough for one week. But, no. The Universe had a bit more in store for me. I was incredibly uncouth as I reveal to the caller that I was sure I fucked that up. She wasn’t impressed. She had plenty of phone calls to make.

Flash forward to the next evening. I walk back into the auditions and this time there is slightly softer feel to the energy. Not as much tension. Desire, yes. But the fear wasn’t quite as palpable. So… these are the folks they’re interested in…

And, I’m one of them. I wonder if this it really a result of my riveting audition or my acting instructor putting in a good word for me. Whatever. Doesn’t matter. Here I am. I said Fuck Fear, right?

God damn, this profession. Keeps me so fucking honest. Have to walk my talk. Must have courage. Using my tools. Positive affirmations. Yeah. Fuck fear.

This time we read together on a much smaller, less intimidating stage… The classroom stage I work on in class. It feels familiar. More comfortable. I can see the directors. Apparently, they’re also human. That’s cool.

From 7pm to 11pm, I read for two different roles a multitude of times. Sweet. I must be somewhat in the running. This is going waaaaay better than the tragedy that was Scene 1. I may actually have a shot as this.

[Talented actors 15 years my junior take the stage]

God damn it, with this age shit again. Why the fuck do I even care!? There is a lesson here somewhere. I digress…

The other students are, in short, terribly genius. One after one, they blow me away.

[Gremlin enters, stage right]

“Wow. They are so incredible. What the fuck are you doing here? How embarrassing… Who the fuck do you think you are?” my gremlin sneers.

I keep my cool. Use positive self-talk. All I really have at the moment. Joy. Fucking. Junkie. Or so I tell myself…

Finally, I’m called into a private corridor with the director and his mentor… who happens to be my (not-hard-on-the-eyes) acting instructor. Amazing. And not embarrassing or humiliating at all.

[Sarcasm drips]

Here we go. 50/50 chance. It’s either good news. Or bad news.

And… It’s bad news. It’s not my time. They’re going with someone else.

That’s okay, I’m chill. I’m just proud of myself. We have a lovely, adult conversation, the three of us. I’m such the bigger woman. Surely they must be thinking, “Wow, she is so graceful and humble about this.” Surely they are totally consumed with how I must be feeling.

[The sarcasm faucet continues to drip loudly]

I walk down the corridor to the actors already knowing their fate. They look at me a la contestant-style from So You Think You Can Dance.

“Did you get it? Did you get it?” They squeal. How precious. I handle myself with my coach-like grace and share my news. And to be totally honest, I did feel fine. Truth be told… I was fucking exhausted. I just wanted to get home. Relieved to not have butterflies anymore. Calm after the storm.

I go home;  Get some rest. The next day, unexpected flood gates open. Work shit gets to me. I begin bawling my eyes out.

What the hell is this? I thought I was totally at peace. Then it dawns on me… I was so busy prepping myself to handle this in such a graceful, dignified manner, that I completely skipped over allowing myself to grieve. To be bummed out. To just feel what I feel. Was I devastated? No. Definitely not. But, I was bummed. And as Mr. Smith pointed out to me in his loving, gentle way, I’m not used to not getting what I want. I mean… I get law of attraction, right? I’m a powerful manifester. And yet, that is exactly what happened. Ouch. But he’s proud of me. Supportive. And says everything right.

[Harps playing]

And, I was really proud of me. Cognitively. Logically. Coachingly (new adverb created), I was proud. But, emotionally? Emotionally, I was just plain sad. I realized that I was living/learning a powerful lesson I preach to my students and classes: Just because you have done a decent amount of personal development work, doesn’t mean you aren’t going to be bummed-the-fuck-out from time to time. Doesn’t mean I’m always shitting glitter, as I like to say.

I think far too often we reserve grief for things we deem “acceptable”… namely dealing with death or tragedy. But I truly think our human resilience comes from mourning and grieving all of our losses. All of our disappointments. Big or small. Losing jobs, friendships, ambition, goals, whatever.

So, if you’re saddened, allow space for it. Don’t vote on what you “should” feel. Allow yourself to feel what you feel. No matter how trivial or silly it may seem. Don’t be a fucking hero. The only way out is through. So feel what you feel, and you will blown away by your capacity to bounce back.

(If you missed Scene 1, you can read it HERE.)