Every once in a while someone says something that makes me re-ask a question I was assigned to answer several times during my time in acting school.
Who Am I?
During school we were required to play a piece of music that described where we were. It didn’t have to be lyrically where we were, but part of where we were in our lives at that moment. Sometimes people would pick songs from the seventies, sometimes it was on the current top ten of the billboard charts. Something that spoke to the kind of person we currently were. Like if you listen to a certain song on repeat, why? what about it is speaking to you RIGHT NOW? I do not remember every song I chose for these assignments. I remember two of them, though. “That I would Be Good,” by Alanis. The other “Tracing,” by John Mayer. During these exercises we played the song for everyone in class to hear, then read what we wrote in answering the question “Who am I?” then we played the song again. Tonight, I was speaking to my mother. Catching her up on the little pieces of my life, the day in and day out. Then I told her a specific story and she said something so simple, and important I just kept repeating it over and over “You aren’t needy…be who you actually are.” And I sat back and just, repeated that a few times then glanced at my computer and said “who am i?” Tonights answer shall be presented no different than the exercise that brought me to the question.
Then we read:
I’m able to rest more, lately. I do not remember a time in my life…ever… that I didn’t have some kind of fear hovering over me. They were only ever first-world-problems, for sure and I don’t want to get caught up in any religious dogma or political back-and-forth about my fears or issues, I only want to say that I have them. Had them. Have them. But lately, I’m able to rest, more.
I was always on the go. Always packing my schedule full of things that had to get done, and living in NY–I live in New York…–makes that schedule even longer because of travel time. It’s something I have become accustomed to, and even appreciate at times, but it does in fact make my days longer. I was always on the go. Work. School. The first year I was out here I was in school to complete my degree in acting (which I did not end up completing, and that’s ok). I also was lucky enough to live with my best friends so I had a support network here, that was helpful. I quit school for a few reasons. Some are my health became a problem. My physical health, my emotional health, and my mental health. And I struggled with a job I hated and days when I was scared to leave my apartment. Literally, scared.
But lately, I’m able to rest more. When I got my esthetician license (finally) in NY I immediately found a position working as one so I could leave the job I hated. And for a while I worked two jobs. The one I liked, and the one I hated. Then it was just the one I liked, but if I didn’t have clients–I didn’t get paid and that raises a different kind of fear. Eventually I found a good place to work, I made decent money and was content. Then, I added school back on to my schedule. I didn’t just enjoy having the one job that I liked, I had to add something on to my schedule to raise the stakes. I don’t know why, but it felt like if i wasn’t always doing something, then I was wasting time. And two more years of my life have gone by. I had class, clinic, homework, and work, and rarely had days off. I lived on coffee and 4-6 hours of sleep. Some may say that’s plenty, this post is not about them though, it’s about me and who I am now, and where I am now. So lets get to that.
I’m able to rest more. I am able to be social. I can go to concerts, and parties, and out with friends. I can have friends over and just watch TV. I can sit at home all day if I want on my day off, and do nothing but eat, watch TV, read a book and take naps. It’s…unfamiliar territory. And I again, and often, feel as though I’m wasting time. But you know what? The other day I realized last year I had all these great realizations and this year was/is going to be the year I made certain things a reality and even though I’m not scratching things off that list–I’m able to rest more. I’m unsure why it is so important that I use this time of rest wisely, but I believe I am.
Oddly, though, it’s almost like I’m hiding. Like I’m sitting still and watching. I’m sitting still and listening. I’m sitting still and feeling the breath come in and go out. Maybe that’s not hiding from someone or something, but hiding in stillness. Stillness I do not know if I have actually earned.
I am currently without major fear or anxiety. I go to work when i should. I take food with me so I’m not spending money on breakfast and lunch and sometimes dinner, every day out. I get home at a decent time, because I’m done with work at a decent time, and then I go to bed at a decent time.
I’m decent, that’s important.
I am still a daughter, sister, cousin, auntie, and friend. I am still single, and this year I hit that last year that states I’m in my “mid-thirties” next year I will have to admit to being in my “late thirties” or straight up start lying (or you know, continue to lie…hey as long as I can get away with people thinking I’m younger, I don’t see why not). I have my name on a lease in an apartment in Manhattan, NY. That seems pretty important to be able to say.
I have not been exercising. Kickboxing was my thing for a while, and I miss it–I do, but something about finally being able to rest for a while is what won and I won’t apologize for that. And I believe when i am ready, I won’t make an excuse to not go, I won’t talk myself out of it, I believe when I’m ready I’ll just…go.
Thing is, without any high stakes, or any kind of fear hovering over me I’m almost at a loss. Do I just become one of those people that gets up and goes to work, and comes home and hangs out with people she likes–is THAT the life? Is THAT living the dream? Is THAT…enough?
This year I unblocked people from my social media and allowed more people in, or back in, to my life. (Granted, that block list is still long, there’s bad people out there with ugly hearts and I won’t stand for it. Ever again) But in opening up, and becoming a bit vulnerable I allow myself to be seen. I allowed classmates to become “friends” with me on fb. Some people may find it odd that I would keep people separate, but it just worked better for me. My social pages were for family and people I was social with, not co-workers or classmates. And this year, I changed that…just to see. Made me nervous, but it seems to still be working out okay. And someone I had blocked is gently moving back into my line of sight.
Fear can be a dreadful, horrid thing. It was out of fear, originally, that I separated people anyway. It’s out of fear that I block them. Not just fear of what they will find of me, but of what I will find of them and I sometimes like the idea of ignorance. If I don’t know, then I won’t have to deal with it. Whatever “it” was. If I put up that shield, I’m not only protecting me, I’m protecting them–mostly me, though. And in lowering the shield, and being vulnerable I do set myself up to become afraid again. So as I do that, I try to remind myself to breathe, stay present–and rest. I remind myself, I give myself permission, to rest.
Soon I’m going to up the ante on my vulnerability shake-down and do something I find outlandish: I’m going to go to an open mic night, and sing & play a song that *I* wrote. I may go in to cardiac arrest shortly there after, so I may invite some local EMT’s.
But ultimately, right now, I think I’m somebody who is taking her time to see what happens next. I stopped planning super far ahead. Part of that is because I no longer need to plan that far ahead, another part is I don’t want to. Because i don’t want to create expectations and then be let down, that’s never fun–and I’ve already done that.
So, somehow I find that right now I am…preparing. Preparing to turn all those realizations n 2014 into realities. Quietly, while at rest it’s like I’m creating the space and time and energy desired to climb up that wall. I’m drawing it in to me.
I do not yet wonder what I will see once I get up there, but what’s different here is I do not feel as though I am simply moving forward. But that I’m heading forward, like that’s the direction I’m pointing towards I’m just taking a break. I’m standing there looking. I’m observing.
Then, i realize that I’m actually already on the wall. I’m watching. I’m noticing who is on the wall with me, who is at the ground watching to make sure I get there; to root me on or catch me if I fall and have to start again, and I’m noticing who is at the top reaching down and intentionally holding their hand out to me to help me, only if I need it.
I’m feeling it out. I’m getting grounded, I’m taking the time to feel it from within, before continuing up. I’m testing the energy and preparing for any bad juju. I’m observing. I’m learning. I’m hoping. I’m accepting. I’m wondering. My senses are awake though I am at rest, and am preparing. I’m climbing. My eyes are open, my ears are listening, my mouth is slightly parted, and my palms are opened. I am present and I am still. I’m focusing.
I am not sitting, stagnant. I’m getting ready to launch
It will happen soon. Be careful. Don’t be afraid.
Now, we listen again: Due North