Nobody Gets to Have All of You


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One of the toughest things about being an actor and a writer, I think, is that it’s inherently so personal. You’re going to have to draw on your own experiences and feelings to do your job, and because of that, it can be hard to figure out where to draw a line and say “no, this part of me is not available for public consumption; this is just mine.” It can feel like by drawing a line in the first place you’re jeopardizing your career or your opportunities, like you should be game to open your whole self up and share everything, because you picked these careers for yourself, didn’t you? And that’s what they entail. I think that mentality is encouraged a lot in younger artists. A lot of schools and coaches and your competitive peers will imply to you that if you aren’t willing to share your deepest fears and traumas then that means you aren’t brave enough or bold enough to be an actor/writer/artist of some other persuasion. But hi, I am here to tell you NO, absolutely not. You not need to share all of your thoughts and your trauma and your messy bits just to keep going with your career. Because you are a person, not just a brand, and you need to have parts of yourself that are just for you, that aren’t being exploited in the service of a scene or a poem or a personal essay that a magazine is only going to pay you like $50 for. That's not sustainable!

Keeping things to yourself doesn’t mean you’re hiding them or that you’re ashamed of them or that you’re not willing to deal with them properly, it just means that you’re not putting all your experiences up for sale. And that’s a good and healthy thing to do, because once you start making all your thoughts and memories into commodities, I think you start to lose something. It’s almost as though when you start using everything in service of your art, you stop approaching situations normally and start looking at them through the lens of “how can I make this situation useful to me, and what can I use this feeling for?” You become a voyeur of your own life. And for some experiences and situations, that’s totally fine! I certainly write a lot about my own experiences and emotions and it can be really healing and cathartic, but it’s nice to do a little gut check before I publish a blog or submit an article and ask myself “is this something I actually want to share, or would I rather keep this to myself?” Because sometimes you write a piece and then realize that publishing it would make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe or vulnerable in a way you just don’t like very much. And it’s totally fine to listen to that voice and say, “okay, well this thing is roped off for now, and only VIPs get access to it.” It will make you feel safer and happier and both of those things can only be good for you and your work.

Photo by Kyle Sudu on Unsplash