I write this today because since June 2nd, I have managed to publish a post every day on this reboot blog thing that I'm doing. I haven't written one every day, but I've queued a few and I liked the fact that I published one every day, even though nobody's reading these, so it honestly doesn't matter when I'm posting them at all. I mean, I read them as I'm writing them, so it makes no hill of beans of difference to me. But today I didn't have anything queued and I didn't have any ideas for what I should write either. A few ideas had fleetingly come to me, but none of them seemed like something I could really bite my teeth into, so I let them fly back into the wind. So that left me with nothing today. And I have been on edge off and on today because of that.
Then this word came to me. Obligation. Literally it came to me in a flash and not a moment later I was writing this. I haven't even thought through what I have to say yet, but I knew this was worth a post because of a conversation I was having not one hour ago with my friend Bárbara and because of my dilemma with this very post. So I'm just going to stream of consciousness the heck out of this (...like I've honestly been doing with all of these).
Why do I feel obligated to do one of these posts every day? No one's benefiting from that practice. I'm writing these as a journal for me, so I should only publish ones when I feel I have something I want to think through and write out. It shouldn't matter if I publish one a day or two or zero. But that's the twisted thing about obligation. Sometimes it should matter, it really should. And sometimes it really shouldn't. And that's when we end up going into the dark place.
This is a very narrow example of what I'm talking about. This is a tiny issue in my day but it's still filling me with negative thoughts about myself. But this is child's play. Let's widen the scope a little bit and get in to me really feeling bad about myself. So what are we going to dig into today? Career. Yep, the beast that makes all of us feel like crap at some point or another. Especially if we have a father breathing down our neck all the while.
I've said it before: I'm going into musical theatre. So getting a job is basically your whole job. Unfortunately 90% of that job doesn't pay and it also has a habit of kicking you when your down...and then again for good measure. And laughing at you when you're sick. Basically, you have to be a masochist to go into theatre. I just finished my sophomore year of college and don't have a respectable credit to my résumé.No professional theatres, no internships, no nothing. Not even a job of any sort on the non-performance side of my résumé. And here I have friends all around me landing internships at theatres and summer stock and paying shows and getting EMC points and all that jazz that jibber-jabber to any non-theatre person.
So I feel like a loser.
But I'm not!
It's just that sense of obligation. Yes, in an ideal world, I would have a job. In an ideal world I'd be on Broadway. Ideally in Hamilton because, come on. But I didn't aim to do that this summer. I thought I would originally because it was the logical next step that most of my friends were going for (at least, all of the hard-working people in my program. Not so much the slackers. But I didn't want to be put into the same group as the slackers!) I felt obligated to follow along that all but set course and audition at StrawHats and NETCs and SETCs and whatever other theatres I could find. But I felt bad everytime I looked up stuff along those lines. A dark feeling would fall into the pit of my stomach that said that this wasn't right. It wasn't even nerves. It was beyond nerves into the land of dread.
(Personally, I get this feeling from time to time and it's usually from trying something new, which freaks most people out, definitely including myself. But usually I'm glad that I did this new thing upon completion. So while this was a gut response telling me that these auditions weren't the right thing for me, it is, in fact, a gut experience that I've learned is easiest to follow but best to ignore. So I was then filled with a huge conflict.)
Long story short, I didn't feel ready for these auditions. Many of my friends have been doing theatre for years and years more than me, as well as these kinds of auditions. I'm a newbie. The fact that I got into the amazing program that I did was a lot of good fortune and not the benefit of experience that my peers were dancing with. I wasn't ready because I lack dance experience in every way. I felt I would have made a fool of myself in every dance call. I already believed that I wouldn't get any jobs. So I decided to stay home for the summer and take all the dance classes I could fit in without breaking the bank. That seemed like the right decision and a logical one too, right?
Well, yeah. I've already taken dozens of dance classes and I've only been home for a month. I've gotten my first pull-backs (as I mentioned in my last post) I made a bit of a breakthrough with how I can practice pirouettes yesterday, I've freestyled (terrifying) and enjoyed it, and I've felt confidence around peers who I knew weren't judging me in the way musical theatre competitives can. Because in these classes, dance is just a hobby, just a game. And so I can relax--something my teachers at school have been begging from me--and make a little more progress so that I'm ready for the big auditions next year. And so I have less excuses to talk myself out of not doing them.
So I should feel great, right? WRONG. I had a bit of a meltdown just three days ago, feeling like crap because of where I am and what I'm doing this summer. It's obviously even bothering me today. It's obligation. Obligation telling me that I'm obligated to stay along the course and have a 'real' gig this summer, otherwise I'm failing and I'll never make it and get real work and make real connections and survive in New York.
Well...maybe I will and maybe I won't. Who can say? Certainly not obligation.
My point in all this, guys, is exactly that. Obligation has no say. Yes, if you RSVP that you'll be somewhere at a certain time, you're obligated to go there. You're obligated to wish your father a happy father's day in a few weeks. But you're not obligated to do anything for or to yourself unless you say so. The world doesn't get to put that pressure of obligation on you without your say so. Not even your parents truly get that right.
I'm not saying that I feel better just because I know these things to be true. I'm not saying that I feel confident in my decision to do what I'm doing this summer. I'm not saying that obligation isn't still weighing on my shoulders as we speak. But I am saying with every confidence that it shouldn't. And I will do everything that I can to take my pretty green pen beside me and stab obligation until it's screaming "Uncle!" Please, take your weapon of choice and do the same. We should feel good about the choices we make, especially if they're bettering us in some way. We're not obligated to do anything else.
So you know what I'm going to do to get in that first juicy stab? I'm going to not publish anything today and ruin my streak. Ruining something on purpose can really take back your power (as long as it's not hurting anybody). So I'm going to ruin my streak and revel in doing so.
What are you going to do?