I had the privilege yesterday of experiencing what it's like to be on a podcast with two incredible women, and it was awesome. A friend of mine hosts a podcast called "Who We Used to Be" with a friend of hers that brings on special guests to talk about whatever topic they choose. It's funny to me that I have a hard time staying immediately on the topic at hand. Maybe my great character flaw is that I endlessly go off on tangents. I do always circle back to the original topic I'm supposed to be discussing, but I seem to want to find the weaving, turning way to get there - not unlike getting as far away from the game as you can before coming back to it (finding the positive in everything, ayyyy! improv reference win).
Even funnier, though, is that in all the babbling on I did, there was still more I wanted to talk about that I didn't even get to touch on due to lack of time. Words have always been important to me, and I think that's why I feel such an innate need to use them to weave (oftentimes) long-winded tales. I love to read. I love theatre, film and television as well, but I love the stage and screen because they make words on a page come to life. The movies are never as good as the book. I don't know why people constantly feel like there's a need to justify - an intricately woven story that takes up 400+ pages of a novel is never going to translate perfectly to an at-most two-hour film (Gone Girl might be the exception). Television is proving a more and more valuable medium in this sense each day. I haven't seen it done perfectly yet, but I still hold out hope (obviously).
I've always found that, since childhood, no matter what I'm reading, I put myself in the characters' shoes. I think that, for me, that form of discovery and that empathy - in its simplest truth - is what draws me to acting. And that experience I have while reading something in which I'm invested has always been gender neutral for me, too. I've been Peter Pan, and I've also been Wendy. I've been Hamlet and Ophelia. I've been every single character in the 100 Acre Woods. I've been Kathy and Ruth and Tommy, and I've been every bit Rosemary Hoyt as I was Dick and Nicole Diver. I laughed and smiled and cried over Anna Karenina, and I've had to walk away from several war novels I've read in order to catch my breath. That full immersion in something other than yourself could be labeled as escapism, I guess, but it never felt like an escape to me because my life wasn't one I needed to escape. It was one I loved and simply wanted to add to by exploring these other worlds. And when you give children books and access to knowledge and other ways of life and thinking, you open a door that you should never shut.
I have friends from all different walks of life. My closest friends, however, are readers. We don't read the same things all the time - mainly because I don't read a lot of the popular bestsellers of today, so that's on me - but we always stay open to each other's suggestions. And I think there's a reason that readers are attracted to other readers. There's definitely a sapiosexual factor involved, especially romantically. One of the greatest love stories of my life wooed me via classic literature. Every few hours he'd send me a favorite passage of his from some of his favorite books; there was a lot of overlap in literary preferences. Needless to say, we were smitten. Our relationship was intense, and it was amazing. That person was very much a soulmate in the simplest definition of that word. He had awoken something in me I didn't realize was there, and I've settled for less than that along the way, but it's beautiful to know that sort of connection and intensity can exist. But more importantly, there's something to be said for strong female friendships. My friends are encouraging, supporting, loving, loyal, and most importantly, honest. My closest girlfriends and I might not read the same types of books all the time, but we have intelligent, thoughtful, deep conversations about life, perspective, philosophy - no topic is off limits. Those women, moreso than any guy I've ever dated, are my true soulmates.
And my friend said something yesterday that really resonated with me, too, which was that we should never be okay with "maybe." We joked that maybe I should be a little less humble, but then again, it's true. Humans shouldn't defer or quiet themselves for the sake of being polite. We talked about the world not needing art. And I disagreed on this point but clarified that, yes, humans didn't intrinsically need art at the basic level. Art could not provide food, water, or shelter, so at that level, the world did not need art. But then, of course, I brought up a book I recently reread and referenced a passage about art and why it is a need (and you'll just have to wait for the podcast to hear it!). But what it boils down to is this: we, as humans, should take up space and create beautiful, amazing art that screams YES or screams NO (this is me paraphrasing my takeaway of my friend's beautiful view). And she's right. And I agree with her. The only thing in this world stopping you more than anything or anyone else is yourself. There are hurdles for everyone. As an actor and a writer, I face constant rejection on a regular basis. But guess what? When you realize your worth and know that you have everything you need in yourself, there's nothing that can stop you.
We all need to use our unique voices to take up space and make noise, especially in the world today. Even if what you write or perform or create only touches or has an effect on one person, then that thing you created is important. I am my happiest self when I am learning and discovering new things. The best thing my parents did was teach me how to read (and I started reading extremely young) and then encourage me to keep doing it. Don't shy away from the things that make you feel like your best self. If your passion is writing and acting, then find a way to do it. If your passion is being a clown and running away with the circus (I know an amazing person who did this), then find a way to do it. It might not work out. Sometimes life doesn't. But, bear with me for a moment and ask yourself, what if it did?
And therein lies the magic. Be loud, take up space, make noise. Find out what you want. Figure out a way to make it happen. And stay humble and grateful for the amazing people who've helped you along the way.
***check out Who We Used to Be on Instagram: @whoweusedtobepodcast
***check out all episodes of the Who We Used to Be Podcast on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/who-we-used-to-be-podcast