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Let It Grow or Let It Go

As I opened WordPress on my iPad to start today’s (11:30 PM – crap) entry, the song to come through the earbuds amidst the chatter of the Saturday night crowd at Glass Nickel Pizza Co., is “Let It Go,” from Disney’s Frozen, AKA the best new song that everyone is (rightfully) going gaga over.

My Florida trip as well as the past 48 hours of being home without very much human interaction brought back my anxieties and fears, big time, preventing me from getting my work done (well, that and the fact that I left one of my textbooks in Florida and have to hunt down another copy at the library tomorrow). The usual fears; schoolwork, life, friendship. These are the anxieties that make me stare into walls, pick at a scab on my heel until it bleeds, pare my nails, and on the whole, take down my confidence.

Confidence is a tricky thing; it can help you reach your goals, but you shouldn’t have too much of it, only in moderation. Having a whole lot of inner confidence can help you shine on the outside, even when you don’t feel particularly positive. Knowing who you are, and what you love and why you love it, and allowing that feeling to emanate throughout your body, that’s true confidence and it’s tricky to achieve. Sometimes, people mistake a lack of outer effervescence for a lack of confidence or self-esteem, but sometimes you don’t need to assert yourself. It is okay to celebrate being you, because you are the best you that there is. When I doubt myself, it hampers my ability to function. But I just have to keep reminding myself to let it go, just like the song says, and focus on my power inside.

There’s a phrase that I heard somewhere along the line, what you focus on grows. It’s a corny phrase, and of course my dirty mind goes straight to the innuendo, but if you look at yourself in a better light, as a dreamer, a believer, a human…(now, “Under the Sea” is playing, so my thoughts are temporarily interrupted by singing sea creatures)..,okay, well the song’s not over yet, but grabbing back on to that previous train of thought, what you focus on does grow. The more I replay a scenario in my head, the bigger it gets. So if you just focus on being a good person, the positive attributes will grow and overpower the bad and sad thoughts, making them the plebeian, shoddily-made cloth finger puppets of your psyche rather than the complicated connections of bones, muscles, and tissues, that make up your essence as a puppet of your own design, controlled by all the processes that magically fit together to make a human being.

Taking a step back…sometimes that’s just what is necessary, to take a step back. Just today, A friend of mine posted a one-liner on Facebook that made me giggle, and I told myself “okay, I’ve gotta comment on this with a zinger.”

So I clicked.
And I thought.
And I waited for a thought to come to me.
And I started typing something…but then realized all the ways it could be misconstrued.
So I deleted it, and started typing something else…before retracting that.

Ultimately, I wasted about five solid minutes just staring at that dialogue box, “leave a comment” leering at me through the bared teeth of Facebook on iPad.

And I didn’t post anything.

Sometimes you don’t need to have your say on everything, mark your territory, get in the last word. If you have something to add, put it in focus and let it grow, or take a step back and let it go.

Exactly one post down was another keen observation made by another friend, and on that one, the appropriate response came to my mind fully formed, and took me mere seconds to post, without a second thought.

Now, that moment has come where I can’t think of anything more to say, so I’ll end this post for tonight with this message:

If you want to post a comment, do so, and let it grow.
If you’ve read this far and the moment doesn’t come to you, just press like and let it go.
I won’t be offended either way.

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A Moment in Orlando

For the past 4 days, I’ve been here in Orlando, Florida, at my favorite event of the entire year: the ATHE conference. This it the fourth consecutive ATHE I’ve attended (Los Angeles 2010, Chicago 2011, Washington 2012) and by far the most chaotic and busiest. There was just so much going on, so many amazing panels and workshops and performances that I desperately wanted to attend but couldn’t for whatever reason. I’m typing this from Orlando International Airport where I’m waiting for my flight back to Houston. I can’t believe that the trip is already almost over.

As a veteran conference-goer, I advised newcomers against “conference burnout,” or attending too many events and getting sensory overload and brain saturation. I kind of did the reverse this year, I felt, conference “underload,” since between staying at an off-site hotel and skipping basically two days of the conference to explore Magic Kingdom and EPCOT with Nana – who, after much deliberating, decided to come with me on her first-ever vacation/flight/hotel stay, I managed to attend two half-panels, neither of which were particularly insightful. I did, however attend the LGBT pre-conference cabaret show, three grad student sessions, the keynote speech/performance by Bill Irwin, the opening reception, the all-conference meeting (which I got to for the first time ever and won’t be missing again), 2 focus group meetings (Dramaturgy, where I got elected as Grad Student Rep alongside Walter and LaRonika, and the first ten minutes of Religion & Theatre), and the Mickee Faust paid performance. Not included in that list were multiple nights in the pool and hot tub, Dramaturg’s Night Out, catching up with old friends, and making new ones. Oh, and I also spoke on a panel this morning.

An interesting moment happened yesterday as I was running in between the two focus group meetings, which were 2 floors apart. Right in the middle floor, between the escalators and the registration booth, was a camera overlooking 2 chairs with a clothesline strung between them. On one chair was a marker, some blank slips of paper, a jar with written-on slips of paper, and a jar with written-on slips of paper rapidly disintegrating into water. On the other chair was a real-life person (the identity of whom I discovered later when I saw her setting it up elsewhere) with a black hood over her head and body and an exposed back, with words written on it in Sharpie. The instructions, written on papers clipped to the clothesline, stated to write down a fear or anxiety on the paper, put it in the jar, draw another paper, write that word on her back so she could “carry around our burden,” and then place that slip in the jar with water.

I was in a rush, but was drawn to the jar. I wrote down “constant self-doubt” and dropped it into the jar, drawing “loneliness” out. I wrote that word in neat script under her left shoulder blade, and then dropped the paper in the water jar. Other feelings were written on her back too. I walked back to the person and the camera recording her, stood for a minute, and reflected on both the feeling I dropped in the jar and the feeling I wrote on her back. I can’t remember what I specifically thought about; I just focused. To the woman’s back I stood and whispered “thank you,” and then darted away to the dramaturgy meeting, where I was elected grad student rep. This meeting is always fun but this time, I was feeling particularly inspired and at peace, enjoying every moment of the room around me and the people in it, my dramaturgs, my colleagues, my friends. As I rushed out at the meeting’s end, I slipped back downstairs for something and passed her by again. Someone had written my phrase, in big, bold letters on the right side of her back, right at the top over her shoulder blade. I didn’t even stop as I walked by, but smiled knowing that someone else had drawn the paper and hopefully had been as affected by the words as I had been when writing down someone else’s biggest fear. It was a moment of peace in an otherwise busy vacation. I felt rejuvenated and refreshed, if only for a brief moment.

I can’t wait for next year’s ATHE, which will be in mid-July in Scottsdale, Arizona. Right now, people are lining up to get on our plane, but I think I’m going to sit for a moment more to enjoy the last bit of Orlando.