This quote came across my Twitter feed today, from a Portland-based actress that I follow: “Sometimes when things fall apart, they may be actually falling into place.”
Perhaps it struck me so much because I had my own little meltdown today and generally feel like things are falling down around my ears. It’s the result of being really overwhelmed, in addition to being over-tired, filled with fun hormones (oh, being a lady can suck sometimes), and being the type of person who is really, really hard on herself.
I hadn’t felt nerves about the competition until Tuesday. I woke up in a mild state of panic. It was not yet to the “cling to the bed” stage, where I can’t force myself to get up because the anxiety is so overwhelming, but it was definitely present. Still, I got my ass up and went to my private lesson with Drea. It was a good hour and a half. Calming for sure, and we worked on things in a way that wasn’t too intense – I felt capable, like I got things accomplished, but like I still had work to do. So, I took it as a successful experience overall.
Tuesday night, I got a much-needed massage to try to free up some of my strength. My forearms lock up almost every rehearsal, even when I’ve barely used them, which is a sign to me that something is out of alignment. The massage helped, even though it wasn’t exactly restful – I was so tight through my shoulders and arms that there was a lot of pain involved, and my brain wouldn’t shut off, but I still felt better when I left.
Wednesday was such a long day that it didn’t feel like I had any time to breathe and relax, which was the entire point of taking it off from rehearsal (and, of course, to give my muscles a break after the massage). I think it set me up to have an exhausting day today, too.
Upon arriving at rehearsal, I got a chance to see my costume mostly put together, which was fun for all of about a minute. (I’ll post a teaser pic later.) And then, we started my rehearsal, with Kat sitting in to give me final tips on things to polish.
Cut to, I do one run through and burst into tears as soon as it ends.
I hate crying in front of people, and I gotta really be upset to do it (and there’s often a certain element of trust involved, which tells you that I trust Kat enough to be a gibbering mess in front of her).
It comes down to this: I am playing an old, old game with myself, where I really do a damn good job of making myself “not enough” – I spent the last few days (rather unconsciously) picking away at any good will and sense of accomplishment I had for myself, leaving me with a hell of a lot of, “What are you thinking?! Seriously, you entered a competition? That’s a joke, right? You’re terrible, and you have no business doing this on stage. You’re going to be annihilated. You will be the worst, you’ll make a fool of yourself, and you will let everyone down.” It’s a truly terrible inner monologue to have, but the reason I am being honest about it is that it is part of this journey. Pole can be a lot of fun, but for me, it’s also a tremendous challenge on more than just a physical level.
I’m not used to feeling ill-equipped when it comes to performing. While I get nerves when I act, and I have my own little demons pop up, I have weapons and tricks to combat it. I also know my strengths and how to play them, and in general, I know how to play at my maximum level. I know what that is, and I have confidence in it. Doesn’t mean I always WANT to do the hard scene where I’m weeping, but I am pretty good about knowing that I can, even if I’m also pretty adept at trying to self-sabotage sometimes.
With this…it’s still relatively new to me in a lot of ways, and COMPLETELY new to me in this realm. Performing?? In front of people I don’t know??? WITH JUDGEMENT INVOLVED?!?!?!?!? *dies*
The truth is, I don’t feel any better than anyone else at this particular endeavor. I don’t see my own value, I haven’t been rewarding my accomplishments because I am hard-pressed to see what they are right now (beyond the recognition that I’m stronger physically in some respects). I feel like a big, fat failure because I am not as good as I want to be. I’ve put this hugely unattainable and unrealistic expectation on myself of being flawless. It’s a nice way to validate that secret fear/belief that I’m not good enough. “See? Your routine isn’t flawless. You’re clearly not good enough to be in this competition.” It’s insane.
Humans, we be sneaky like that. It’s an old, old game that EVERYONE plays, whether they know it or not. And, even though I’m well aware of the existence of it, and where I’ve done it in my life, I got gobsmacked by it today.
So, in that way, I’m being very hard on myself. I’m mad that my routine isn’t as beautiful or perfect as I wanted it to be. I’m mad that I’m not 120lbs of grace. I’m mad that I didn’t work harder. But, all of that is distraction. Being mad at myself is a manifestation of being scared and an act of displacement, in a way. It’s a vicious circle that feeds right back into the “not enough” story that I have created for myself.
Anyway…getting back to rehearsal…I spent a while crying and mopping myself up, confessing that I desperately did not want to let anyone down. Which is very much true – I feel such a sense of responsibility (which is code for: “Don’t fuck up!”) to everyone who has been so helpful and supportive throughout this process that I am terrified of being a failure. But, as Kat said – after comforting me and teasing me that “there’s no crying in Pole!” – the only way I would let her down was if I dropped out of the competition. Which I don’t even consider an option, because while I am a commitment-phobe, once I DO commit, I’m in it, even if I’m kicking and screaming half of the time. 🙂 Kat reminded me that my choice to enter is something that most of the other girls in our studio didn’t choose. That it took balls to do it. I need to re-frame my thinking on that, because I didn’t see it as brave – I never see myself as brave, even though it’s one of the qualities most singled out by others in reference to me (I feel like a doofus saying that, but it’s true). Instead, with my fear and anxiety, I see it as really foolish and ridiculous.
Gotta love what that shit does to you, right? As I like to say, “Oh, Brain. I thought we were past this.”
After finishing my cry, I went back to rehearsing and felt much more solid, even if I was still having some trouble in my runs. It’s mostly little nuances and things I’m not sure I can change at this point, given that I have a day left. I’ll work on some stuff tonight and tomorrow, but I think the most important thing will be doing mental runs of the routine and generally calming myself down, reminding myself that I do have fun doing this, and that this is just a chance to have fun playing a character. I got into this to learn what it was to prepare for a competition – and that includes the good AND the bad – and to be better at pole overall. So, in that sense, I got everything I set out for when doing this – I just need to accept me for me and not be so hard on myself.
I’m still in a bit of a mental health shut down, but hopefully I can reboot in a few and start working again a little later. I got my costume sorted out and did my rehearsal in it today, so that’s good. It works, with the exception of one piece that is a little bitchy – not entirely sure how to fix it, but necessity is the mother of invention…and creativity doesn’t hurt! So, anyway, here’s a little teaser!