I don’t know where to begin, so I’ll just begin, and we’ll see where we get.
I’ve been told recently by a few different people that they’ve always enjoyed my blog and that they admire my openness and honesty. It’s flattering and validating, but my depressive mind ends up wondering why I’m not farther along. Why more people don’t share my blog, pass it on for others to see, shout it from the rooftops. My rational mind knows the reasons. People are busy. People are easily distractible. People like to be complimentary. But more than all that, I haven’t been disciplined in my posting for years and years. I know the missing puzzle piece is my own work. I’ve read enough books on writing to know that I’ll never get anywhere unless I sit down every day and do the work. And I have excuse upon excuse as to why I don’t. But none of those things mean anything.
What troubles me most about this is that I want to be a successful writer. When I realized I wasn’t passionate about being a singer, all those years of not taking my lessons seriously, or putting in the work, made sense. I didn’t put in the work because I didn’t really want it that badly. But I really do want to have a career as a writer. I want to sell my book. I want to write books. I want to write for television. And so, my reticence to do the work is confusing and frustrating.
What if it isn’t that I didn’t have a passion for singing? What if what it really was, was fear? What if what stopped me from putting in the work was a great fear of failure? What could I have achieved if I had put in the work?
If I show up every day, and put in the work, and then I don’t succeed, what then?
I used to put in little to no work on my auditions. I would glance through the sides when I got them, and glance at them again on the subway on the way to the audition. And it worked. Not every time, obviously. But I got work. I booked plays and musicals, and TV gigs. I booked my first guest star role on a TV show (as an adult) after a night of illicit drug use, not realizing that my audition was first thing in the morning. And it’s not that I got cocky about it. I learned many, many years ago that my shit stinks just as bad as everyone else’s. It’s just that that’s what worked for years. Skating by on instinct. Not only that, but because of my very early success, it took me longer than some to learn about hard work and tenacity. I was taught that I would either succeed, or I wouldn’t. I was either good at something, or I wasn’t. Training had nothing to do with it. I believed that if something didn’t come to me easily, I would never be good at it. I didn’t know how to try and fail and try again. It took many years, and some pretty big failures, for that lesson to finally kick in.
I think, in retrospect, that habit of not preparing was a self-protection mechanism. The less effort I put into something, the more I could say, “Well, I didn’t really try,” when I failed. Because when I did put my shoulder into it, if I didn’t get it, my depressive mind would tell me it was because I wasn’t good enough.
It takes a long time for the lesson that not booking a job rarely has to do with talent, and usually has to do with look, or how many followers you have on social media, or whether the producers daughter wants to be an actor that day … If you’re at the level where you’re reading for the production team, or the network, you have the talent (or you’re Ruby Rose and everyone is blinded by how insanely beautiful you are), so not booking the gig doesn’t have to lead to a shame spiral. It takes a loooooooong time for that lesson to kick in. And it takes constant reminders.
Nevertheless, the less you try, the more you can blame your failures on your lack of effort, rather than your lack of talent.
I have to remind myself that I have been trying (and succeding) at this business for 30+ years.
My depressive mind lies to me a lot. In my more rational moments, I know that. It tells me I never stick with anything. It tells me that all my ventures are failures. It tells me I have nothing to show for my 40 years on this earth. It diminishes all of my accomplishments. It turns all compliments in to, “yeah, but…”s. It tells me that all of Monty’s “good” qualities are due to his nature, and all of his “bad” qualities are due to my terrible parenting. It points to all the gaps in my blogs posts. It believes the trolls in my life who have tried to knock me down.
It does not recognize how many times I have gotten back up. It does not recognize my career achievements. It does not recognize the ways in which I help my family and friends every day in small ways and big ways. It does not commend me for getting out of bed every day to show up for my son. It does not commend me for feeding my family every night, almost always from scratch. It does not commend me for trying to learn, and grow, and be a better parent, partner, sister, friend, person, and ally.
In my worst moments, it tells me that everyone would be better off without me. It tells me that I am fucking up my child somehow. It tells me that my partner has settled for me out of necessity. It tells me I should have more friends and more success. It tells me everything I do is a failure.
Here is a great irony: I am sharing these thoughts, not for sympathy, but because I have heard from readers that my openness about my depression and struggles with mental illness have helped them in their dark moments. So even as I write this, I know that my words have value, and yet as I write this, my depressive mind is telling me it’s worthless, self-indulgent, and self-pitying.
Someone recently asked me when I made the decision to be so open and honest about my life. I never made the decision. I don’t know any other way to be.
So, that’s where I am this morning. My PLAN is to share more often. I’m having a lot of thoughts and struggles with my identity now that I am a full-time stay-at-home parent. There is no guidebook for how to hold on to your Queerness when you are in a “straight” marriage, and you’re suddenly a full-time stay-at-home parent with no idea when or if your career will ever have the opportunity to pick back up. No one has written that book yet. So, I’m navigating a lot of this alone, and I have plenty to say about it.
In regards to the social and political unrest we are now experiencing, I hate to say “I told you so,” but I did, in fact, tell you so (please see a recent blog for evidence of said telling-you-so). I have long thought that one of the ingredients of “successful” capitalism is keeping a population working more than they should/can in order to prevent them from thinking too much. So, when the economy comes to a grinding halt because of a pandemic that everyone should have seen coming, it stands to reason that now, with more time on our hands, people will have more capacity to look around and see that what’s going on is unjust and inhumane. Then, what choice do we have but to revolt?
For my fellow white people, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and impotent in a time like this. Remember that for the vast majority of their time on this continent, Black people have felt overwhelmed and impotent. Moreover, they have been abused, erased, beaten and killed (literally and figuratively). They have suffered generations of trauma from systemic racism and white supremacy. They are still being lynched in the streets. So, we white people can stand to be uncomfortable for a while. There are tons of resources. You have no excuse for not doing your part. Follow black activists, writers, and artists on social media. Listen. Dig deep and look at your own biases, racism, and missteps. Resist the urge to defend yourself when you see people share their pain about their experiences with white people. It’s not about YOU (I mean it is, but it’s not about your ego). March in the streets but wear a mask! If you can’t march, for whatever reason, do your part by amplifying the voices of black people, and sharing information on marches, protests, rallies, and campaigns to reach local lawmakers. Donate and volunteer if you can. Teach your children to be anti-racist. FUCKING VOTE.
Here is a list with a tremendous number of resources for you, including where to donate, what books to read, and legal help. Save it to your desktop.