i’ve never been particularly fond of sharing the personal difficulties that i face. perhaps more accurately, i’ve never been particularly able to share the personal difficulties that i face. descending from a long line of the emotional inept, i was not raised to overshare. it wasn’t that i didn’t have the opportunity to express myself growing up, i have and have always had the complete safety to vocalize anything i want, but there just wasn’t an accessible platform for discussions on personal troubles; there was no one setting the tone with their emotional tangents, and i wasn’t going to be the first to open that can of worms.
after twenty-one years, i have always found myself uncomfortable with people listening to my problems, because i have never wanted them to think i was not okay, at least until today that’s what i thought. however, i have recently been introduced to an environment where it is not only encouraged to be vulnerable and open about your life/feelings, but it is also kind of mandatory.
first semester of this year was my first time ever taking a drama course, let alone as an upper-level university credit. before entering the class on the first day, i was pretty confident that i was going to flourish; i have always considered myself a confident person and was once, quite oddly, described by an elderly woman as “flamboyant”? anyways, i was quickly faced with what might be one of my biggest challenges to date: letting go of pride. on the first day of class, we were asked to roll around on the floor, moaning, yelling, punching the air, doing whatever “we felt inside of us”. all i felt inside of myself was the inability to let people see me acting so “idiotically”. after nearly four months in that course, it was not until the last week that i finally let go and silenced the voice in my head that told me people were going to be judging me if i did anything remotely “lame”. this particular course taught me that i obtain nowhere near the confidence level that i thought i did; in fact, looking back, i realize that i am actually extremely insecure and scared to be anything but normal, and that is why i had a cold, you-can’t-phase-me surface. thankfully, upon completing this course, i can happily say that i have the confidence to be exactly who i am, and that my ideas of “pride” and “what is lame” have shifted a great deal.
so i signed up for a theatre course second semester, which i am in the middle of right now. immediately, i jumped into this class with all that i had. i wasn’t nervous about making a fool of myself, because i knew that in a place full of vulnerability, there is also a comfortable place of safety. i thought i was doing so well, being so true and honest, and really knew myself, the ups and downs that i have gone through, until today.
today we were faced with a challenge, one that seemed to be a lot more personal for others than for me; we were asked to take 20 minutes to write a monologue that was based off of one of the themes that we had been studying – things like love, loss, betrayal, jealousy, selfishness. immediately, i saw this as a writing assignment. sure, i wrote about a negative instance in my life where i was faced with extreme jealousy, but although my words were truthful, they were not necessarily challenging for me to speak about.
i went first and quickly ran through my monologue, happy about the way it turned out, and also relieved to share what i thought was a personal story with the class, one bravely admitting my negative sides, the pain i inflicted on someone. then, one by one, my peers got up in front of everyone, and told stories about the kind of pain that i could never imagine; each one of them had a different story about love, loss, chasing ghosts, such as parents who abandoned them, or their experiences with complete isolation because of bullying; the thing that their stories all had in common, however, was that they were faced with personal difficulty because of someone or something that was beyond their control.
there was something particularly grimy about sitting with a group of people who are bravely sharing their experiences, being vulnerable for the benefit of others, and knowing that you, seconds ago, were priding yourself on how brave your own story was, when it was only just a story about the wrong you have done. there was something particularly grimy about knowing that i have not experienced these pains, but have undoubtedly caused them within other people. there was also something particularly eyeopening about this unique situation: a group of people i had just met, who i had been collaborating with, laughing with for the past month all have such unique stories about their past, and it’s as if they would never let you know any of the negative aspects of that past unless asked; it’s cliche, but they are all incredible.
i quickly realized that i don’t know myself at all, because i am someone who until today thought that they had undergone a normal amount of pain or suffering for someone my age; being misunderstood, that boyfriend you had turning out to be a dick. i realize that i have nothing to ever complain about, nothing to ever feel bitter about, and instead of parading myself around for being burdened by the “inability” to express myself and my problems, it is more likely that i just don’t have any personal troubles to express. it makes sense now why i have never wanted to open up to people, and that is because it would be unfair to accept even a morsel of sympathy for the insignificant negative experiences i have undergone. from something as simple as a 20 minute monologue, i have become a quiet listener to the pain that other people are amazing enough to share, and i have finally become a person who doesn’t consider NOT having troubles to share with others, as an unfortunate trouble in itself.