fear

Any progress part two...

In acting class the other week we were asked to write a letter to whomever or whatever has held us back from being the actors or humans we want to be... And if you know me, you know I would relish in this... I love a philosophical, deep, over analysed chat (or blog) So I am 'Showing up', as Brene Brown would say. Writing the letter, publicly.

By the way, I have insecurities... ones I have from my Mum, Some from my Dad. Some from school and my friends and my teachers and my enemies and the people that don't like my pics on insta or the stranger that laughs at my hat... I once read an interview with Kate Winslet, when a reporter asked her what her biggest insecurities were and her reply was 'I'm not going to tell you that, because then people will notice them, when perhaps right now, no one else does' She has a point... but I find myself doing the opposite. I have spent years pointing out my insecurities like Eminem does in the last scene of '8 Mile' when he addresses good ol 'Clarence'...

It's armour. And as Caitlin Moran says 'You cannot dance in armour'

In Brene Browns book, the power of Vulnerability, she talks openly about a society in which we live in now, where to have an 'ordinary' life seems quite frankly too 'ordinary' That we are now so accustomed to chasing an extraordinary life. That perhaps our lives are not 'extraordinary', unless we are posting it on Instagram, letting the world know (via a square picture) that we are 'drinking a glass of champers on a rooftop'. Where we don't put in the caption #ispentmylast10bucksonthis

What she says holds true... I don't want an ordinary life. Nor do I think I should have to if that is not what I want. But my perception of 'extraordinary' has changed. Extraordinary being that I have time to do the things I love. That I can do anything and everything I want to do, because, why the hell not.

When I was eight I wanted to do what Bette Middler did to me when I watched her in Beaches. I wanted to tell stories like she did.

When I was seventeen, after a lucky break in Harry Potter I decided I wanted to own a house like J lo and buy lots of things, If I am honest, I think I wanted to be famous.

When I was twenty one, after a year of being out of work, and reassessing, I decided fame was hideous and I decided I wanted to be a real actress and book a massive job so that I could pay my mums mortgage and for her teeth to done. I wanted to have it easy. I wanted to do a few acting jobs here and there, not be in debt. Holiday. Drink cocktails. (I secretly still wanted to be a well known actress)

When I was twenty seven I wanted to just book a job, any bloody job, one job, just give me one freaking job where I can act, so I could call myself an actress. I wanted to tell my family I booked something, I wanted to feel justified in the sacrifices I made, to not having moved on in the last ten years. Most of all, I wanted my agent to praise me, have belief in me. I wanted to feel that he would push me because he knew I had it in me, whatever 'it' was... I wanted him to validate me I suppose.

He didn't.

After booking a life changing job, and then losing it, and ultimately losing any confidence I had left, that agent lost confidence in me and dropped me. Which, for the non actors reading, is an actors worst nightmare. To be agentless. What the eff was I gonna do? Stalk Nina Gold, send flowers to Des Hamilton? Having an agent, made you feel like you were a part of the business. You felt like there was hope and possibility. Without any of the above... I felt helpless.

I am now thirty. In case you hadn't quite caught on. I'm THIRTY. I'M MEANT TO BE A GROWN UP!  And all of the wants I have for success in the business, the want to tell stories and make people feel like Bette Middler did for me aged eight, it's still there, but it's never been more apparent to me, that the whole reason acting was fun, is furthest from where I am at in reality. I am, as you may have guessed from the last post... frustrated, and bored and honestly, completely underwhelmed at the whole dam acting malarkey. I am peed off at myself for putting a lot of eggs, if not all, into one small little basket. I am also at the dumbfounded conclusion, that I in fact, believed that (the industry) would fill a void. That booking a job would make me feel whole, and would perhaps, validate me.

It didn't.

There is that bit inside of me that beats myself up, that doubts and questions and has me fearing the worst. The bit inside me that used to be jealous (believing I was not capable also), or envious (that I was capable, and I wanted it too)  'HEY WHY NOT ME, WHY NOT PICK ME FOR THAT TV SHOW'?) That bit that hates having no control, or little control.You hold your breath waiting, it's like you slightly don't begin your life because you think... well, when I'm working, then I will buy a house, get engaged, have babies. You (even though all the self help books tell you not to) somehow end up putting life on  hold. I believe I have made every effort to live, to enjoy the process, get on with my life... Because you grow used to the chase, the journey. You get accustomed to it. Accustomed to this being an actors lifestyle. You actually get stagnant from it. But the scariest thing for me is that you start to accept the no's, more than you expect the yes's.

I want to live my bloody life. Enjoy it. I want a lifestyle (and I don't mean cocktails at 10am on a rooftop... well...) I want a lifestyle that I have been told forever and ever in some form or other sub conscious or otherwise way, that I cannot have. Or that it's difficult to have or who do I think I am to have... 

Brene Brown talks about the gremlins of 'shame' that we all have. On one side there is that voice I have always had in regards to acting and anything I might do, which is 'Your not good enough, you are not a real actress, you got lucky before, you could NEVER do a Meryl' and that is always balanced out, when you talk those Gremlins down, when you ignore them and shut them up, with a good ol helping of '

Who do you think you are?

Who do you think you are to want a extraordinary life? Who do you think you are to think you can act, book a job, and spend time wanting and chasing something that truthfully (the Gremlins tell me) I don't deserve.' I have been tainted with feeling that anything I might think I can do, or I am good at, or is worth doing is perhaps too much, too selfish, too obtrusive, too arrogant, too undeserving, too obnoxious, too self righteous, too try hard, too sensitive, too defensive, too dramatic, too complicated, too extraordinary, too bloody everything...

I went to LA...I definitely spent too much. I bought a few too many cocktails. I Shouldn't have bought that skirt that I will only wear once or that foundation that only matches when I have a tan. I should have pestered casting directors and sat on Scorsese's door step. That time Spielberg walked past me I should have asked for a job making him chai tea with extra lean, no fat almond milk from those special golden almonds. I should have been more confident aged nineteen and believed in myself way more.  I should have not felt small, or made myself smaller. I shouldn't have acted irrationally when I didn't book a job. I should have been kinder, nicer, funnier. More assertive, less aggressive. I shouldn't have sat around doing nothing. Those book ideas I should have written them. Script ideas I should have filmed them. That money.  I should have saved it. Jeremy kyle? How did I waste so many days, months watching it? There are so many shoulda, woulda, couldas in this industry, for the acting job, for the career I wanted.

Someone said to me... don't go to LA if it's an excuse to give it up, if nothing happens. She was right. It is easy to do that. Because god forbid you had a bit of 'extraordinary' God forbid the world saw you trying and it didn't pan out the way they thought it might. But what if it was to discover all of these fears and put them out there so perhaps they are no longer scary any more. 

It's good to finally say out loud I don't think I want acting enough.

I have realised the real reasons why I do want it and have discovered it is definitely OK to not just want it for the love of the bloody craft (

For that I can put on a show every week with my friends and perform it to my Mum and Nan. So I guess this letter is to the fear that I wasn't good enough and to the thoughts that always crept in when I thought that I was!!!

To be honest...

I pride myself on being an open person. Not necessarily honest at all times, but very rarely do I

not

wear my heart on my sleeve. Well, I try to always be open with others. I like sharing, mainly because I like people sharing back. I despise small talk and pointless convo, and even if I am not the smartest cookie (because cookies are so smart -_-) I like to debate and talk about things that matter. Sometimes I like to talk about Scarlett Johanssons body in that film where her body looked amazing, and sometimes I like to talk about crap, like if Kim K really did break the internet. I say sometimes, probably

a lot

. But if I have an opinion on it, I'll talk about it for days. That beats small talk. About the weather and what your doing for work at the moment. Shoot me in the head if you hear me say 'Gosh it's so sunny today'

Which out here, I have said a lot. In LA, there is more small talk than I am used to. And I have been swept in. Because when someone here asks you how your day is, you don't really want to respond with '

Well, I had this audition and it didn't go great, well, it didn't go bad, but I just wasn't feeling it, and they didn't seem to feel it and so now I feel a bit bummed and what is the point in all of this, maybe I should just do something else, maybe acting isn't for me... wait, I am giving the universe bad signals, I do want this, I do want to act, I just don't NEED it, right universe? That's what I am meant to say? If I want it but pretend not to want it too much, all will be well... so yeah, the audition went OK, who knows you win some you loose some, it's in the universes hands

' and you look up to said universe and give it a sly little wink like you're both in on the same inside joke and you pray the universe doesn't clock that little pinch of (I really do want to book this job) because, well you know, the universe repels neediness like a boy you're  dating who you have just asked to see three nights in a row... so you look across at the semi stranger, (someone you just met last week for coffee because that's what you do here) and you say 'Yes, my days been great, I mean how could it not, look at the weather, it's so sunny here' and they reply, 'Gosh yes it rains a lot in England doesn't it?' and your in, your off on the small talk train and it's hard to jump off.

Sometimes I want to give all of me. Most of the time I want to give all of me. Then there are times when that is not appropriate. All of me can be annoying, over whelming, boring, too much. But...When your not being yourself, there's a strange sense of misjustice. I feel like I'm cheating myself. Like I'm wasting time in life conning myself and the people around me. But sometimes, I feel the people around me do not help me be myself. I feel suffocated by their intentions or their own ego or their own life issues. And in dealing with their own drama, I feel myself and my ego reacting to it. Not consciously. But subconsciously I feel my soul drain second by second and feel weak with thought process malfunction. And whilst they are dealing with their own issues, I am out here dealing with mine.

All I ever want to be is myself really. I want to be so self assured, so accepting of my own flaws and traits, that I am comfortable to just be 'all of me' at any one time with any person that I meet. And there will always be someone that doesn't like some of you or all of you and still, at the ripe old age of 30, I still find that hard to process. I want to be liked. And I really do feel that most people do. When I hear people say they don't care if

Julie

likes them, I firstly feel envious of such liberation and then I secondly feel sceptical because often I think that's a protection barrier. Because why would you not want

Julie

to like you? You don't meet

Julie

and hope that she doesn't like you. Yes wasting time trying to convince

Julie

that you're a good person or a funny person or an interesting person or how utterly great you are, is pointless. Probably because if she was to get to know you, the good the bad and the ugly, she might think those things anyways.

I always remember asking a good friend of mine... 'don't you worry if people don't like you', and she replied 'Naahh, if they got to know me they would.' and I never got it. I never understood how someone could be so free spirited about that. So sure that people would like her if they knew her. Which is silly, because I know she was right. If they knew her the way I did, they would love her the way I did. But having that reassurance about your own self... seemed unfathomable. If people got to know me they might see that I don't like sharing food, and that I am selfish at times. They would see that I am over the top and loud and opinionated. That I like talking... a lot. They would hear me be mean sometimes, or that I get defensive or grumpy or bossy. Worst still, they may not approve of my poo jokes. There are a lot of poo jokes. But as I have gotten a bit more self assured, I have started to sort of get what she means. When I meet people, if they are genuine, sincere and openly themselves, I often by pass the flaws, and end up liking them when I get to know them. That same courtesy comes back to you too. When you know someone, and you see why their behaviour is the way it is, often you end up relating to their behaviour, you see why someone might make that inappropriate joke, or come across as arrogant or barely even smile at you. You can empathise with most character traits because we all have them. And often, more often than not, the judgement I make of someone is a reflection of me and my own issues and not the other person. I recognise when I walk away from a person and I feel there was insincerity, It makes me feel like, they didn't trust me enough to be themselves. I sometimes walk away and think 'gosh they were an arrogant cock bucket' and inside I don't like it because it unnerves something in me, that someone doesn't sensor themselves the way I think appropriate. Sometimes people make us feel aways about ourselves or more to the point, we let people affect us and we feel aways. More often than not, If I don't like someone on first meeting it will be because I sensed they don't like me. (Unless they were racist or misogynistic or just dam right rude) But even then, people are who they are because of shit they have going around in their head. And most of the time, its stuff that we have going around in our heads too. We all just deal with it differently.

I worked with some people who I really did not jell with. I found them to be insincere and hurtful. Arrogant and so unsympathetic, that I thought they may be on the verge of psychopathic. I could not relate to them. Everything they did, every bad feeling they made me feel, I took to heart. I took it so personally, I would go home and cry because it felt apparent they didn't like me, and yet they would sort of pretend to and there was this mist of nastiness that resided over me daily. Once I stepped back, it became obvious that they hadn't liked me. It was hard to deal with (I am not one of those, ahhh who cares if they don't like me, I don't like them) sort of people. (Because I am just not one of those people.) Looking back though, I see that It made sense why they didn't like me. I did not appease them. I did not fit into the expectation they had of me and in return they didn't accommodate my needs. My need for them to be genuine and sincere. I was angry a lot, frustrated a lot and not giving the best version of me. Probably, I was the worst version of me. They felt that I didn't like them, I didn't listen to them, I didn't agree with them, so therefore they didn't really like me, and vice verser. We all played this game of pretend, because it's work. That's what you do. And it took me a long time to understand why they despised me so much. And when I realised why, it all felt so trivial. They didn't really know the real me. Because they were never genuine enough to warrant getting the real me on a daily basis. I didn't feel comfortable being me, wholeheartedly because I didn't trust them not to take the bad traits in me and use them against me. But what ended up happening was my ego would get all defensive. I was defending myself against other egos and we were in a full on ego war.

Deep down, I don't believe they are bad people as neither am I.(most of the time) We all want to be liked. We all want to fulfil an ego based expectation, whether it be to be the best one, the powerful one, the funny one, the kind one, the trust worthy one, the knowledgeable one, the interesting one... and if you meet people who have the same wants, you battle. But under all of that, don't we just want the person we meet to

get us

. To empathise with us, relate to us, connect with us. I am OK to meet someone I don't do those things with, hence I only have a handful of people who I trust with ALL of me, warts and all. But in every meet up I have, I want to find something in common, something we can laugh at together, something real to talk about. When I meet someone, it's not like I am praying 'Dear universe, I hope we talk about the weather today' I want to meet people I can be honest with, and who I can trust with all of me. Those people do not come around often, but the more honest I am, the more you realise who to talk to about that shit audition and who maybe to just discuss the weather forecast with.

Honestly... 

I don't like sharing food.

Julie is not a real person. 

I have never watched 'Back to the Furture'

I wasn't into Michael Jackson 

I wish I had tried harder at school

I wish I had been less obnoxious at school

I hate washing up cutlery

I cannot stand men in cuban heels

I can't stand football

I have a hairy belly button ( I take care of it) 

I sometimes don't shave for more than two months

I think about food vs getting fat way more than I should

I like Millionaire Matchmaker 

Spice Girls will always be my jam 

I say things like 'be my jam'

Being vulnerable...

In class the other day, we were asked to work on 'vulnerability' ahhhhh vulnerability, fabulous. *insert straight face emoticon here.

I began to fret, my palms went clammy, my armpits started sweating profusely and as I watched other people in class go up, and 'be vulnerable' I panicked. I had no heart. I was emotionless. No tears came, I just sat and watched, numb and empty. My brain fogged over. Who could I sit and talk to and be honest with and what could I get vulnerable about? Because that was all he was asking us to do. Substitute a person from class, for someone you want to talk to and be honest with, and let yourself get vulnerable.

OK so here is the deal... In 'real life' 'real time' I get vulnerable over a jelly bean, I can cry because the guy serving me coffee was mean, or because my pink socks turned my grey undies even greyer. I cry when my boyfriend eats the last of my crisps or when there is a dog that looks sad sitting outside of the super market... and I was under the impression I couldn't substitute one of the class members for a dog. I'm emotional, I am vulnerable. I wear my heart on my sleeve and feel fragile at the best of times. What was even more frustrating was I am hormonal (its that time of the month) yet I couldn't shed a sad tear or connect with what people were saying. Because my brain was to busy going 1000 miles per hour dealing with all my thoughts.

I sat for at least two hours wondering who I could talk to... My Dad? Daddy issues? Nope that didn't feel right, I couldn't connect with that. My ex who cheated on me? Nope, Over it. My mum, talk to my mum about my worry and concern for her happiness? That felt better, that felt right, but going over the things I would say just didn't make me feel sad. There was concern, and of course some vulnerability, but it was like I was made of led.

I know what makes me sad deep deep down. I know what frustrates me, upsets me and what makes me feel screaming and throwing a tantrum.

Myself. 

I couldn't possibly talk to myself could I? Wouldnt everyone think I was narcissistic? What was crazy was, I was sitting there feeling everything the teacher was asking us to feel. I had felt vulnerable from the second I had walked into class. Vulnerability runs through my veins. What stops it from pouring all over the floor, what holds the vulnerability in? For me, I guess it is trust, or lack of. With my mum or my closest friends I feel no ways about saying 'I feel lost' or 'I feel dislikeable' I delve into those feelings head first and verbally projectile vomit them all over the place. But to admit to a room full or pears, people who you think, want you to be confident and self assured. People who you are sure will judge you for your needyness to be liked, or to impress. Because we all know its not cool to care if people like you right? We are meant to be these humans with assurance up to our eyeballs. (not too much or that is threatening) but just enough for people to 'not' think that you NEED friends or NEED to be accepted. Needyness is repelling. I know this. I feel it, breathe it and lecture that shiz all day everyday... but deep down, all I kept thinking through the whole of class is...

'I hope these people don't think I am pretentious' 'I hope they don't think I am boring' 'I hope they don't judge me and want me to fail' 'I hope they don't sit there praying they don't get put in my group' 'I hope they think I deserve to be there as much as them'

and whilst I am sitting there feeling vulnerable, trying to somehow find vulnerability and not knowing where to look, I am torn between who I am and who I want to be, against who I am not, and who I want people to think I am... and in all of that I know this is all insanity.

I have read many a self help book. I get what they say about, being in the moment, being present, not needing peoples validation. I hear Echart Tolle and Marianne Williamson loud and clear. I preach this stuff all day long. Because I know its true. I know the essence of who I am, and being 'me' is all I can be. The answer is truly in being comfortable with who you are, and deep down, I believe that accepting who I am, and being OK with that, is what people will ultimately like. I like people who are open and real. Its people that do the most covering up that I cant hack, despite having compassion and knowing where the ego crap comes from, because I have those insecurities too.

I came out to LA feeling rather confident in who I am. I have done a lot of soul searching over the last few years. I know peoples validation means nothing, I know that I don't need anyone's approval, I know that not everyone will like me, and often I know that will be because of an insecurity in them and not a default in me. I know that when I don't like someone it is usually best to look at myself and see what it is in me that I see in them. I know that only the universe (substitute with God or Love or another universal word for something so great you cannot define) knows the truth. And at the end of the day that is all that matters. I know that not everyone will think I am a good actress, or that I am funny, or interesting and that it is all subjective and as I approach thirty I felt like I was finally coming to terms with that...

Then you get on a plane and fly for 11 hours, move into a place with strangers, spend time with a best friend completely out of context to your relationship and are thrown by how different you actually are, and with those differences come uncertainty, you get given a manual car (when you wanted an automatic) drive for hours on the other side of the road, have you Sat Nav break and your phone die, you get lost and you join a class of strangers who all seem so intimidatingly good, and close and like family and you join the group and you go on stage and you cant seem to show case your personality because you have your guard up, a sensor on.

Dont show them who you really are in case they dont like that version.

instead you show them a mediocre, safe version of yourself and you step off stage and kick yourself as you go through all the things you could have said, should have said and you pray that next time you go up you will be 'you' and all of that soul searching and all of those books full of wisdom disappear and you become that effing 14 year old again.

You sit between this conundrum of knowing what makes sense, knowing who you are, being proud of who you have grown up to be. Your happy as larry at the self discovery and the courage you have had to come out and try new things. You are ecstatic to be included in such a group of talent and proud to be involved...

Against the extremity of feeling increasingly not good enough to be in class, to be in LA, to be chasing such a career. And then the knowing that all of that fear is just my Ego playing games with me. My Ego trying to make me believe those thoughts. Because I know I am enough. Wholeheartedly. Brene Brown would say. The aim is to lie in bed and say 

yes I am imperfect and afraid, but that doesn't change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging. 

So how do you fight these demons? The ones that eat you up and make you think your crazy. The ones that make you talk way too much, divulge too much or say nothing at all, sit there quietly just smiling at everyone. The ones that make you ingratiate and eager to please or the ones that make you act all care free and nonchalant. The ones that make you stay seated and not to go up and perform 'vulnerability'

The only answer I think I have discovered is to be aware of those dark places and you call them out, you diminish the very thing your scared of. How can your Ego win if you accept it. What power does it have if you see it and you do your thing anyway?

All that kept me from going up was the voices that said, 'your not emotional enough, your not connected enough, your not free enough, your not nice enough, your not trained enough or smart enough or honest enough. Your not enough. And all I was asked to do was go up and share that. Share what I felt I was lacking. Love for myself. As our teacher said, all vulnerability is, is Love. It stems from love. And ultimately my biggest fear was that I didn't love myself enough to bare my soul to an audience of strangers who had bared their soul to me.

So next weeks class is going to be the time I don't let my Ego get the better of me. The time I stop worrying about what other people think and trusting that just being open and honest is good enough.

Brene Brown says to

Dare greatly

... and that is what I shall do. Eeeeeek!