Sometimes, I suprise myself. From the people I put up with, to adapting to change, and simply getting through research and homework, I am suprised. Yet most of all, my writing suprises me.
With theater, I was never completely confident. That comes as a shock to people, for many say to me, "You're the most confident person I know!" It makes me laugh, but it also hurts a bit inside. I knew I was good at acting; I took such pride in my work, would lock myself in my room for hours developing my character, and always had my lines (and usually the whole play...) memorized before my fellow actors. When I would stand on that stage though, I could never shake the feeling that it was all some strange twist of faith, random burst of luck. Was I really as talented as my director would tell me I was? I developed a "name" for myself early on in high school, and carried it on throughout my four years at DSHA. But was my success only due to the early praise I recieved? I didn't think so; I went through multiple directors who, for the most part, saw my dedication and passion for the fine arts. I despise watching video footage of my shows. They make me sad, because instantly I am thinking, "How could anyone say this is talent?" With recognition comes pride, and along with it arrogance. I'm the first to admit I was big-headed in theater my junior/senior year. Yes, I had defining moments that pushed me to and past my limit and humbling moments as well, but I thought I was something special. Yet did I really think it, or was I just telling myself that I was worthy of praise? It was in this moment of recognition that I realized I had to find something I believed in myself whole-heartedly.
I turned away from the stage and turned instead to my pen and paper.
Do I regret the change? At times. I guess I can only say I made the switch at the end of my senior year. With my "Actress of the Year in a Comedy or Drama" award in hand, I retired from my brief, yet fruitful, acting career. In college, I was not longer the "theater girl", I was a writer. Writer, me? Could I handle this title? "Sure," said my big-headed self. "You're the shit. OWN IT." Sure, this attitude helps me get through workshops and brutal critques, but overall, I had to abandon the philosophy I outgrew.
That said, I am still the stubborn little shit I've always been, but I've replaced over-inflated confidence for realism. Accepting this is hard, and it's still a work-in-progress. I have to open myself up to the fact that I'm not perfect and that I must grow-up with my craft, not in spite of it. Even from the start of my freshman year here at Iowa, I can see the difference. I looked back at the early parts of my novel, Autumn Leaves, when I recently send my novel to a friend who wanted to read my work. I was freightened to say the least. How can I think this is worthy of publication??? Then I looked at the passages that I wrote my sophomore year compared to my junior year, then senior year, then freshman year of college. Watching how my writing evolved over only four years is shocking, yet comforting.
I see the talent within myself, the flower ready to bloom. All I need to do is realize that I'm still growing in my art. Unlike with my theatrical journey--which was, still, life-changing and taught me so much about myself--I feel confident when I look at my work. In fact, I enjoy looking at writing, even the older stuff! So no, I may not be confident in everything I do--guys, especially, and my looks are my greatest struggles--I am confident in my writing. So yeah, when it comes to writing, I do think I'm pretty fucking awesome. It's not like my acting though, for I do it for another reason. In theater, you have others around, pushing you literally and metaphorically, but not in writing. Being a writer is a lonely love, and if you don't believe in yourself, no one else will. Some say to me, "You can't call yourself a writer, you're too young/not enough experience/haven't done anything!" I just smile, because I know that they're wrong. Little do they know, I've been working on a novel for four years. Little do they know, my next book has been brewing in my mind since I was eight/nine years old. Little do they know, my imagination is swirling with plans for a trilogy.
I'm glad that people underestimate me, because proving them wrong will be that much more satisfying. My work will speak for itself. I'll show them all. Prove myself to fellow students who think I have my head in the clouds. Prove myself to that english teacher who set out to break me down and force me to abandon my voice. Prove myself to the skeptics, doubters, and those who feel sorry for me and my lack of a grasp on reality. But most of all, I'm proving myself to me.
Someday, I will be published. That's what keeps me going.