Monday, September 13, 2010

Being true to yourself, part I

Yesterday, Maylin and I both took free acting classes at the Berkeley Rep. Maylin didn't have the best of times since it sounded more like running and jumping than actual acting, but my experience was awesome. We did a lot of breath-work, connected with our bodies while lying on a mat, and made our own personal connection to a few lines from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. My big take-away from that class was learning the importance of making the text your own -- finding your own personal truth in it and making it real for yourself. I guess it sounds obvious, but how many times have you seen a production where you say to yourself, "That actor delivered those lines perfectly, but I don't feel anything." The actor may have been trained to deliver the lines well enough to be heard and understood, but has not made the text true for himself so that the audience can feel the emotion of that personal truth.

Last night, before going to bed, I read a few brief bios of essay writers, gleaning a similar message -- that a good writer writes words that are the most true to herself. That is so true. Some writers' work seem so contrived. In fact, my college essays sounded quite contrived because I was writing with the voice that I thought I was supposed to have instead of writing with my own voice. But how is a young adult supposed to know her own voice already? I know some talented teens who have probably already discovered their true voices, but I certainly had not by the time I entered Cal. In high school, I learned how to write a good analytical essay, but I don't remember anything about learning how to write a good personal essay. We should have learned since one of our most important essays in our lives was the college application essay -- a very personal essay.

Anyways, I woke up at five this morning to the revelation that good acting and good writing is a lot Iike good living. I haven't done the best job living until now. For a long time, I hadn't found my voice -- I hadn't given myself permission to live my own life on my own terms, not someone else's. And now that I'm in control, I'm going to really listen to myself, do only what feels right to me (follow my gut, because it's always right), and not be swayed by what I think I should be doing. Overthinking can get me into trouble, but when I am really in tune with my feelings and follow through in action, then things usually turn out just great. More on this later...

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