One Step Forward, Several Thousands Back

I apologize in advance. I tend to write on the weekend when I finally have time, but by then my tiredness has usually caught up with me. And today, I am more than just tired.

This past week was AACS competition week at the university. The college students hate it, but I love it because it is the one time of the year that my best friend, Katie, and I get to see each other. But the competition also made the week much more tiring than usual. I had to balance judging three speech competitions, work, school, house, and friends. A typical day looked like this: get up at 6:00, get to work early, run to judge for two hours, run to work for four, run to judge for two, run to work for two, run to see Katie for two, run back to work for two. I managed to forget about my class on Tuesday, lose my phone on both Wednesday and Thursday, not clean my apartment all week, and see Katie for a grand total of maybe 2 1/2 hours altogether.

But I had a great week. I took a step forward. Two weeks ago on Thursday, I met with one of my teachers for some speaking help. He had just come back from workshopping in New York with Patsy Rodenburg and had learned a lot about breathing and properly using the voice. Psychological tension is a real thing. And I’ve been experiencing more and more of it in the last few months than I’ve ever had before. Forgive my hyper-awareness, but I find the links between the Christian life and the acting world extremely cool. I studied performance in undergrad so that is my specialty, but somehow I hate it now. When I perform, even if I love the topic, I can’t get the performance outside of myself to the audience. I can’t speak up even when I want to. That psychological reaction is a result of several built-up tensions. There is always the tension of nerves when you perform; everyone has some sort of habitual tension in the jaw, shoulders, stomach, or back. I have acquired tension everywhere. Everyone has tension stemming from life–whether it be work-related, relationship-related, or finance-related. I have all of those tensions too. But the biggest tension psychologically is that I no longer believe I have something worth saying.

In the workshop my teacher went to, Patsy Rodenburg helped people be honest with themselves in order to remove the hindering tension. My teacher helped me do that for myself. I still have loads of tension, but now I know why. Circumstances with Fishie have made me feel worthless, undesirable, embarrassing, and like I am a mistake. And if the way I feel is true, then I really don’t have anything to say.

I came out of the workshop having taken a ginormous step forward. I was encouraged, inspired, revitalized in the desires God has given me, and ready to tackle my fears. And then…this weekend.

On Saturday I went to a CrossFit competition with my good friend. They both do the workouts, but her husband is the only one who competes. She goes to support him. I got little sleep the night before, and after this last week of competition, I was not in good shape. Although CrossFit is probably not something I will ever try myself, I was glad to go and experience what my friends love. I had a good time with her; she is the only friend that I have really trusted with my Fishie struggles. I was encouraged by her testimony to her unsaved friends and rebuked that I don’t have more unsaved friends than I do. But the day left me exhausted, and it was far from over.

That evening I went to see my friends’ culminating graduate project, The Lost Boy. I was scared out of my mind. I was going with three guys. Granted, all these guys are my friends, and I love each one. But I haven’t gone to a play without Fishie in a long time. And the two times I have, I sat with girls. I was insecure. No matter if I’m with guys or girls, I wonder whether or not they really want to be with me. I wonder if they’re embarrassed by me. I wonder if they’re just being nice to me. I feel strongly the need to know what’s going on in their heads so that I can know how to act. And of course, I never end up acting correctly because I care too much. I woke up this morning discouraged and depressed. I feel like I will never overcome these fears, and I fear that my fears will prevent my hopes from being fulfilled. This afternoon I spent a lot of time in God’s Word; my fears were paralyzing me. I was encouraged by the verse in Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.”

This weekend I definitely fell back several thousand steps. But…I have confidence in the God who is with me every step of the way.

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