I took an acting class a few days ago, and couldn't stop thinking about since then. Analyzing, dissecting, and actually kind if debating whether I should come back for another one.
I was asked to talk about my fear to access emotions, and it was so hard to pick one - I've realized I have so many. In the end, I went with something that felt safer, and it wasn't at all the right one. When I was asked to produce a sound it associates with, I wasn't able to.
I've worked the matter through at home, on my own, with the right kind of fear. I was able to come up with a sound of pain. And I thought to myself how easy it would've been if I just stayed in the moment instead of analyzing it right there, right then!
Part of me knows I want to come back for another class. I want to balance being both strong and empathic. I want to practice having a voice, and having a say. But another part of me is so scared of not being able to deliver, and of other people in the class that might think I'm not putting enough effort.
I'm scared to put effort into it. I'm afraid I might unleash a hurricane and become even more unbalanced than I've ever been. I've always thought I had it in me, a skill of acting, but practicing the technical aspect of it is so damn hard.
Anyway, I've been thinking about my fears ever since then. And it came to me, reading Rebecca's post a few weeks back, in which she talked about things she was afraid to share. And I decided to write my fears down in a form of a blog post. It might have turned out frightfully open and so unlike glossy lifestyle-blog-material we're used to seeing online. But it's honest, and I feel like it made me really connect to my true self. Which is good - Authentic is one of the values of July + August, after all. So here we go.
1. I am afraid that my brain doesn't work like other people's brains. I feel so disconnected from everyone most of the times, like my brain has different waves than those of others.
2. I am afraid that I've become void. A hollow, empty shell that might look appealing but actually conceals nothing but... nothingness. I have a lot of fears, you know, and I didn't have the best times in terms of mental health. This was something that I felt had been defining my life for a long time, along with one and only goal to get better, to feel better. I've been working so damn hard, but at some point, I realized that maybe all that struggle has left literally nothing inside of me. Maybe I was so focused on getting better that I forgot to develop a personality; I have a very generic understanding of what I like, what I need, what I want in life. I know I missed out on a lot of basic human experiences because I was feeling down a lot, and I'm afraid that as I'm getting better, I still have
- not much that I'd like to share,
- and not much to connect on.
Sometimes I fear that it's not because of that struggle, but because I'm actually unable to connect. And I'm afraid of being not at all as good as a person, not at as special on the inside as I thought I was. Maybe I'm just an empty shell pretending to be someone I've never been.
3. I am afraid of other people noticing that I am afraid. I'm afraid to come across as vulnerable, or unwell. I used to be a very shy child, then a very insecure teenager, to the point that I was unable to talk strangers. I had a bad case of social anxiety and OCD and only got help during my year in college, but that was it. For the most part, I'd been figuring it out on my own. It may sound like I am a very strong person, and yes, I am. I'm still alive. But in many ways, I was so weak, and it was so easy to break me. I'd often feel like people used my weakness in any way it pleased them, sometimes out of being clueless, sometimes just for fun. So I've been so focused on developing the strength so that no one could get to me and hurt me anymore. I'd been disconnecting from my emotions to develop a projection of a message of being okay. And now I'm afraid that I lost an ability to feel ordinary human emotions. My first and foremost instinct is to act out of the learned behavior. This is what I realized when I recently took an acting class and was asked to talk about my fear. Sometimes I wonder, have I actually become strong? Or is it just a mask to keep on because it allows me to control my life?
4. I'm afraid of how self-protective I am when it comes to hanging out with people. I know it's not okay that I prefer the safety of my own company, but other people need points of connection, and as I said, I'm afraid I don't have much.
5. I am afraid of not being creative. When I was younger, I wanted to be an actress, but the fear of putting myself out there prevented me from taking classes. As I tried again, I realized that I have so much trouble connecting to my emotions and being in the moment. All the other students seemed so alive, and I felt so opposite of it all. It makes me so incredibly sad, mere thinking that this might be a dream that will forever stay just a dream. But will I have it in me to come back there?
Writing is the best way for me to express myself, though. You might have noticed - I love words. I write a lot of them. I've always seen the world in stories. But as I write, I often find myself stuck. What if the characters are not original, the plot is inconsistent, and what if I will never be able to finish the whole thing at all? I'm afraid to realize that I'm not too much of a writer but just an imposter. I'm afraid that the same thing that happened with acting in my life might happen with writing, too.
6. I'm afraid of never being able to get comfortable with sex.
7. I'm afraid of never having a happy, fulfilling relationship or social life simply due to being unwell.
8. I am afraid of never feeling alive or having a clear purpose.
9. I'm afraid of being mentally ill.
10. Most of all, I'm afraid of how lost I still feel at times, especially when I slow down and get a chance to listen to myself. I am afraid to realize that I'm still depressed, still unwell and that nothing that I thought I'd conquered is actually gone. I'm afraid of how pointless my life feels in these moments.
I think that when we talk about mental health and personal struggles, it's very easy to say that there has been a positive shift in terms of society's perception, because, on one hand, it has. But it's still incredibly hard to come to really believe that it's normal for you to be insecure or scared. That it's normal for you to be a survivor of something. That you're in no way less of a person just because you've survived something that people around you had never had to deal with or dealt with differently.
When I say I am afraid of mental illness, I feel like I'm mostly afraid of an image of someone who has drowned in negativity and fell into complete delusion, forever lost for everything good and bright and beautiful that they could have accomplished. A light gone out is my biggest fear.
I think it's so, so important to hold onto the idea of the light that is still on within you. The idea of big and beautiful times, of sunny days, of the feeling of freedom and calm and wonderful contentment. Of the biggest of the things you can picture yourself accomplish. The light can be found in anything, and it's vital to keep looking for it everywhere and keep holding on to it.
Please note that I'm in no way an expert, and if you're going through difficult times, please reach out to those around you or to available services. Please remember that there's always, always hope and always help, and you're never alone in your struggle.