I received an email from a fan of a recent Backstage blog (“Get Clear in Your Intentions and Get What You Want“) and she expressed the most beautiful sentiment. In part, she had an “Aha!” moment about her high school self.
She was a chunky pre-teen and though she outgrew that “awkward” phase, as she called it, she also realized her attitude about her previous young self did not grow up with her. Her perception of herself at that age was based on the judgments and negative associations with that younger self.
So even though she was overweight, at the same time she was also a “badass” Hilarious, creative, and a performer. But as she got older, she didn’t identify with those positive qualities. She continued to see herself the way she thought others saw her: fat.
So she shut down a lot of the great stuff that came with the weight as well. She started worrying about what other people thought, became less creative and expressed.
I think the lightening bulb comes when we stop compartmentalizing parts of ourselves-especially the parts we don’t like or didn’t fully understand during our formative years.
The stuff that we judge ourselves for having is not only the stuff that makes us who we are as actors; it’s the stuff that makes us interesting. It’s what makes you you.
We constantly blame ourselves for having parts that don’t seem to fit into the cultural “norm.” If we don’t fit in the way the media says we’re supposed to fit in (hot, young, perfect body, perfect tan, no lines on our faces) then we create a distorted association with not only what we think happiness looks like (driving a Lexus while drinking a Diet Coke while a Penelope Cruz-looking girlfriend hangs on our arm), but we also shame ourselves for who we naturally are.
So maybe what’s missing in our work (and in our lives) is the acknowledgment and celebration of our teen selves that were really outstanding, but we instead saw those parts of ourselves as freakish, ugly, or wrong.
Because those parts are still inside us, even if we’re no longer a teen.
Let’s embrace them.
Your chubby teen self whom you felt ashamed of? She was also dynamic and witty.
Your gay teen self you felt was a curse? He was also sensitive and intuitive.
Your nerd teen self who seemed so odd? She was also funny and caring.
In other words…they were all badass.
*First published via Backstage