It’s no secret, I’m judgmental. I’m the most judgmental about the performing arts. I have extremely high standards, expect talent to be at a certain level, and am very vocal about when I dislike something. I’m also very vocal when I like something. And the thing I like most about local theatre is going to see my former students perform and show the world how unbelievably talented they are.
I’ve been a lot of things in my life. Mostly, I’ve been a daughter. Sometimes I’ve been an actor. Recently, I’m trying to be a writer. But for the last 15 years, I have also been a mentor and teacher to a number of young actors. And I have to say, it’s been the least fulfilling experience of my life. The ones I’ve continued to mentor, even after they leave my instruction, always reach back out to me for support, because when I believe in someone, when I believe in their ability, if they come to me for support, I give them all that I have, because I know what it’s like to not have that kind of support for creative dreams. I would never be the kind of person to hinder a young person’s dream, or try to put out the fire of their passion. I go to the shows. I send flowers. I write letters of encouragement. I wake up in the middle of the night to take phone calls and respond to panicked text messages before one of their big auditions. I pick them up when they’re down, and cheer for them when they soar and praise them to anyone who will listen because I’m so proud of them. So, why, when I give all of this, do they always end up so fucking ungrateful?
The ones I’ve put the most effort into have, with only one exception, (thank you for being you, my sweet boy), broken my heart in one way or another. Sometimes it comes in the form of silence, where they outgrow me like Christopher Robbin and Winnie the Pooh, but without the graciousness or consideration to say goodbye. They simply disappear. Sometimes they treat me poorly, using me when they need me and giving nothing in return. And sometimes you find out how they really see you by them slapping you in the face with hurtful words in front of complete strangers. And as quickly as I want to point the finger at them and say that ‘kids are dumb’, in my constant search for my happy life, I realize that maybe, the problem isn’t them. The problem is me.
Something about me makes these kids think they can treat me this way. And if I’m honest, it’s not just kids. It’s most people in my life. They take from me all the time, and give nothing in return. And I’m so willing to give. However, I’m mouthy and sassy, so I’m dubbed a bitch and a tough chick, so maybe the perception is that I can take it. Maybe the perception is that they can say whatever they want to me, because I am what, devoid of feelings? That because life has dealt me shit hand after shit hand, and so because I walk through the world strong, clearly nothing can hurt me. But I do hurt. I do bleed. And when someone who I care about and have supported for years informs a stranger that i’m his friend who is a bitch who hates everything after I just spent the last 2 hours sitting through his show that I went to even though I’ve worked 62 hours this week, am exhausted, and would much rather have just gone home after work. To be told to my face that that is the way he sees me hurt. A lot.
A slap never feels good, right. It stings. It leaves a temporary mark. And it makes your eyes water. I’m no different. When those words were said, knowing that, when he talks about me to another person I’m referred to as the bitch who hates everything, stung. It hurt. My eyes watered. I got livid. Now, had I been my mother, I would have lit this particular person up like a Christmas tree, and left him weeping. But as I’ve been trying so damn hard to do, I’m trying not to become my mother. I chose to just walk away. And I chose to walk away completely.
Because the crumb I’ve found tonight is that perception may be a funny thing, but it’s a real reflection of how people see you. And if people feel that way about me, then I don’t have time for those people in my life. I need to be surrounded by love and support and by people who really see me. I need to stop giving myself, even small pieces of myself to people who don’t appreciate it. I need to be seen as the person who always supports them and is always there for them, because that is what I do. I promised myself no more unbalanced relationships and friendships, and I have realized that has to apply to my former students as well. They only know how to take. Well, I’m done giving. My teaching days are over. I need to be more than the person who is perceived as the bitch who hates everything. And the people who perceive me as that don’t get to be in my life.
I need to have better standards for myself, and demand respect from everyone. So, the well of unlimited, unconditional support has dried up and a gate has been put up and welded shut. You can only tap into it from the inside. And I”m the only one allowed in here.
Ciao for now,