summarizes her goals, resolutions and ideal state of mind for the year.
Last year I joined Emily in this endeavor, and I choose the word "perspective." As in, "Let's keep things in perspective before we have a melt down, or let's consider someone else's perspective before automatically assuming they're an idiot." I wrote my word down in red ink on a small piece of paper, taped it to my computer and promptly forgot all about it. Ironically, the next time my written reminder caught my eye, I noticed that the ink had faded to the point where it was almost unreadable. I guess you could say I had lost my perspective.
Like we do every year, the kids and Rob and I celebrated this New Year's Eve with Emily, her family, and several friends. Because we're getting old and a little pathetic, by 11 p.m. there was a good deal of moaning about being tired and wanting to call it a night. In an effort to save the evening and keep us awake till the ball dropped, Emily handed us each a piece of paper and instructed us to come up with our word for the year. Rob chose "Hillary," not because he's a fan, but because he thinks this year will be all about her. He also went off on some tangent about the concept of "relevance." Obviously he didn't get the idea behind the one word challenge.
For the more immediate future, I've been considering the possibilities of what I might do with my increasing amount of free time. With the kids needing (and wanting) less of me, there are opportunities for me to do the things I couldn't do when they were little. Right now, pursuing my love of theatre is top on the list. As many of you know, I took a step toward this possibility by registering for Villanova's "Graduate Certificate in Practical Theatre." I figured it was worth $50 a course to hone any skills I might possess and see if I have what it takes to make it in the cut throat world of community theatre.
In the fall I took my first course: Principles of Acting. And I loved it. I was a nervous wreck before every class performance (and there was one practically each week), but I really did enjoy it and I came out of it with an audition piece to use if I ever get up the courage to actually try out for a play. This semester I'm taking Musical Theatre, which is the type of performing I grew up on. I'm not sure what I expected, but I think it's fair to say it's more than I bargained for.
First there was the solo performance the very first night of class, which was repeated the second night of class the following week. Then I saw the syllabus, which includes:
- Initial Response (IR) papers for every musical we view and every related journal article we're assigned to read (basically one a week).
- A practitioner report with a PechaChuka presentation
- Character, music and lyrics analysis for each solo we perform (there's at least two of them)
- "8 Counts of 8" in which each student is required to teach the class a dance routine
Did I mention there's dancing for about an hour of each three-hour class? Have I mentioned that I can't dance to save my life?
Did I mention that my first IR was seven pages long and took no less than 7 hours of my time between the viewing and the writing?
And my practitioner report, in addition to the Pokemon-sounding presentation, requires an MLA or Chicago format bibliography. Do you want to guess how long it's been since I wrote a bibliography?
And did I mention I can't dance? Nor can I effectively carry a tune when I'm a nervous wreck.
My loving husband asked a couple valid questions the night before my first class (before I even knew about the time commitment/workload). He asked, "Isn't a hobby supposed to be something you enjoy? If it stresses you out and overwhelms you, doesn't that defeat the purpose?"
Damn. He's always got something insightful to say. I hate that.
Part of the problem lies in my unwillingness to fail or look bad. You'd think for as often as I embarrass myself in my blog posts (can everyone say protective panties?), I would be immune to the fear of humiliation. Nope. When it comes to the things I choose to invest my time in, I'm either really good at them or I quit. That translates into my need to get an A on every paper, and deliver above-average performances in the singing and dancing categories. That translates into weekends lost to homework and fingernails lost to anxiety. I can't just do what I need to do to pass the class and move on. I'm not hardwired that way.
After spending my snowy weekend tied to the kitchen table, viewing Showboat, reading, and writing, I asked myself more than once if this is really what I want to do. It's not that I detest the work (I actually enjoy the musicals and don't mind the written response), but do I enjoy it enough to dedicate so much of my time to it? Shouldn't I be binge-watching something on Netflix? Or playing Wordbrain? Or at least reading a book for pleasure? It's not like I'm dying to earn another master's degree or want to make a career change. In fact, this level of commitment is exactly why I dropped out of an NYU PhD program 20 years ago. I don't know how to balance the goals I set with having a life. They're probably not supposed to be separate, are they?
A couple Saturdays ago, my friend Andria from church brought together a group of women for the one-word experience. As we gathered in smaller groups to talk in detail about our word and what it might mean for us, one of the older, wiser women responded to my "possibilities" with something completely unexpected. She said something like this:
"You may have to consider the possibility that you can't do everything you want to do, or that it's not right for you, or that you might actually fail or not live up to your own expectations."
Wow. In my mind, the possibilities are all positive and shiny with rainbows on the horizon. Are there possibilities of failure or disappointment?
You may think my wise friend was being a Debbie Downer, but I found her comments brought me some relief. I am allowed to fail, to change my mind, to come to the realization that something just isn't for me. Maybe the possibilities for my life don't involve theatre and moving to NC, but instead call for me to be a spokesperson for Icon undies, or to travel the world as first mate on a 72 foot yacht. Who knows?
I've really rambled through this one, haven't I? I suppose the topic was better suited for my personal journal, but part of me is looking for your advice or encouragement. To theatre or not to theatre? To move on, or establish deeper roots right where I am?
I'd also love to know if you have a word of your own. I'm finding it's helpful to have a partner or a group of supporters to keep me focused. So please share if you're interested in playing along. It's not too late to join us!