I recently had a career coaching session with Shawn Tolleson, who I think is a very wise woman, and she asked me to journal about what makes me happy. Not, 'why acting makes me happy', but rather when do I achieve that utmost sense of happiness? What am I doing when I can't control the smile creeping across my face?
I've somewhat been avoiding this because lately I've been feeling...well, empty. Emotionless. As an actress this is terrifying. If I have no emotions then how can i connect with my characters and give real, believable, gut wrenching performances?
It's not that I'm feeling depressed. I've been depressed in the past and it's quite horrible, those of you who have gone through it know. It's not depression I'm feeling, it's a lack of...sparkle. Pizzazz. Tingliness. Giddiness. Uncontrollable Joy. Instead I feel like a robot. I smile when I hear a joke, although I'm not sure why it was funny. I have to tell myself I'm having a good time, instead of just knowing it. Sometimes I just don't 'feel' like I think i should. I don't 'feel' anything.
I'm gonna make this post a two part-er cuz I'm going to pay extra special attention the next couple of days to my 'feelings' and mark down when I believe I'm 'acting happy' and when there's no acting involved at all. And when I find those moments where it's natural and not robotic, I'm gonna write it down, think about it and capture how happiness feels.
I think back to moments I know I'm truly utterly happy: One in particular was last Sept. I had a movie screening in Chicago and managed to track down my besties from high school and get them all to agree to meet me in Chicago, not only for the screening but for a weekend of fun. Oh My Goodness what an amazing weekend it was. Even without the screening I would've had the time of my life. And you know what I think it was? I was with people who've known me since I was 16 (wow...it's been quite some time), who've taught me to drive my first car, wept with me when my father passed, waved as I drove off to college, talked me through my first (and second) heartbreak, supported every moment of my career without question and love me unconditionally to this day. I didn't have to prove anything about myself. I had nothing to be self-conscious about (they've seen me at my worst). And I didn't have to worry about not being entertaining enough. I could just be. Breathe. Relax. Smile. Enjoy. It was by far the highlight of my 2011 year.
So there in-lies one key to my happiness: Just being me the human being, not me 'the actress'.
*Sigh. If I could capture that in all that I do, perhaps I can be a bit more, I was gonna say successful, but I change my mind. It's not about success. It's about happiness. That's what I ultimately want to achieve in my lifetime. Did I live a happy life? Why yes. I did.
Stay tuned for part II!