Quoth Shakespeare: “All of life is a stage.”
This is essentially the conversation I had with an old friend last week, and I’ve been ruminating on it ever since. We talked about how it’s difficult to think of a facet of life that doesn’t entail acting in some form or another, even when we’re by ourselves, and how often we follow a script, from small-talk to overarching plot progression. And then we started talking about life as a film. Each individual life falls into a film genre, from indie to big-budget blockbuster, and from that supposition there are essential questions to be answered: When does one go from a stand-in to leading actor? When does one become the director? What if you get tired of the script?
I get frustrated with myself sometimes because I feel like my life is veering from the script I’m meant to follow. Where other people my age found niche jobs in the field that they studied immediately after graduation and are making a decent living, I was unemployed for more than half a year, am currently working a job that I’m not passionate about but that I stick with in order to pay the bills, and don’t have any clear direction about what I want to do as a career. I’ve been graduated for almost a year now, and I feel stagnate, like I haven’t progressed at all. I’m moving laterally when I want to move up.
Projecting into the future, I started thinking about what film genre my life might fall into. Will I be a blockbuster film, with lots of financial backing and comprised of a star-studded cast, where I will do and say all of the right things and have a happy ending every time? Or will I be a moody indie film, where the plot is slow but deeply contemplative, and where the ending is ambiguous and more than likely depressing? Or will I be like a Juno, that starts out as an indie film and then is catapulted into the cultural stratosphere as an iconic story with cross-over appeal?
I think where I struggle the most is in fighting the urge to try to fit the blockbuster mold that I’ve been conditioned to want. The script is as old as time: go to school, find a job, get married, have kids, grow old, retire. I suspect that the reason I get frustrated with myself is because I was looking at college as a means to an end, a springboard into a lucrative career that would lead to the rest: the husband, kids, retirement, etc. But I think more than anything, it was a springboard into discovering myself. And through that process of discovery, I’ve realized that that the blockbuster isn’t the story I want for my life. I’ve realized that, though stability is nice, I don’t want the job that makes me the most money if it means I have to compromise my creativity, that I don’t want the husband and kids anytime in the foreseeable future (or maybe even at all), and that the possibility of what my life could be, the room to move around and have freedom, is what will lead me to the place (physically, emotionally, professionally, spiritually, etc) I’m meant to be. But coming to terms with that and accepting it can be hard.
I’m the kind of girl who lives in her own head, who trips over things and is often socially awkward: I don’t think I’m blockbuster material.
I see my life as more of an indie film because it doesn’t necessarily have to please or impress financial backers or the mainstream audience; it has room to stay true to its artistic integrity, and to be raw and unpredictable and melancholy. As it stands, I have no idea where I’m going, and I mean that in every sense of the word. I don’t know where I’ll live a year from now, but I have a feeling it won’t be in Seattle. I want to apply to graduate school, but I’m torn between pursuing creative writing and interior design… two fields that are worlds apart. And then, I want to make Haus of Lux a full-time career. And then, I also want to just put all of my possessions in storage and be a WOOFer in South America, working on a farm in exchange for room and board, and experiencing a new country on my own. What is the common thread between these things? If you can find it, you’re one step ahead of where I am, scratching my head in confusion. But the great thing about this is that I can do any of those things if I choose to. I have no one and nothing to die me down and keep me from living adventurously.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I accept that there is a script for me, but that I feel like I’m living my life as if I’m doing a blind reading in a rehearsal room. I have no idea what’s coming next, and I can find both excitement and peace in that. I can see struggle and financial hardship in my future, but I can also see a lot of laughter and adventure and joy; but right now, it’s all just a vague outline of what will become a more definite shape. I’m happy to read the script and take it into consideration, but I want to push the boundaries and deviate from it as much as can be allowed, and not just read the lines that have been put into my mouth by someone else. I’m making a move to be my own director, but I’m really just flying by the seat of my pants, hoping it will all turn out, or at least be interesting to the audience.