*The song is Belle from the play Notre Dame de Paris – you can find it on its entirety on Youtube*
I have spent many days and nights watching plays like this one – musical or otherwise – although this is still one of my favourites. I also like to go to the theatre as often as my budget permits it. From time to time though, they bring back to the surface all the pain, regret and anger that I usually keep stored well away.
What does that have to do with being a rebel? I’ll get to that, I promise.
You see, six or seven years ago, I was in high school (college for the British people – I think. Anyway, the thing before University) and I discovered acting lessons. Those lessons then led to me actually being in a play – performing in front of people. It was exhausting, of course, but well worth the pain. We had rehearsals during the week, after school – and then, every Saturday, more acting lessons, physical exercises (a couple of hours at least) and more rehearsals. And on Sundays we were on stage.
It lasted a year – an amazing, exhausting year. We were in a workshop for yet another play, we were given the opportunity to talk with great actors, such as Marcel Iures and volunteer behind the stage at the biggest theatre in the city.
Can you guess where this is going?
And then my mother decided I cannot go anymore – partly because she said she didn’t have the money anymore (£25 a month) and partly (and I think this was the real reason) because she thought that I am wasting my time, that I should be preparing for my exams (A levels equivalent) and that most actors – except for the brilliant ones – starve. And then a friend of hers said that if I still want to pursue that career after my exams, she will arrange with a great actor she knows to tutor me.
Thus, I did what was expected of me, and stopped going, convinced that after another year and a half, after my exams, I will get the tutoring. And then life spiralled out of control, some bad things happened, my mother threatened that if I do not go to study something worthwhile in another country, she will throw me out of the house and be done with me forever (and stupid little me BELIEVED her), her friend that should have arranged the tutoring moved to another country, etc.
So here I am, six years later: I have a steady job, I am completely independent and I am proud of my achievements. However, I am angry with myself for always doing what was expected of me, not what I wanted. I am so angry that it’s hard for me to accept even the most well-meaning advice – moreover, I am always tempted to do the opposite of that advice, even if it’s not good for me. I like to joke with my partner that “I’m a rebel!” each time I don’t want to do something just because he suggested it.
There, I got to the rebel part in the end, see?
But I am not sure I really am a rebel – I am independent but not going back to acting, because it might cost me my (financial) independence. And also, because I feel like this is the responsible thing to do, and I have felt on my own skin what happens when adults don’t do the responsible things.
I keep telling myself that in the end, everyone has regrets (right?) and that I am proud of where I am in life, so maybe it’s a good idea to stop with the “what ifs” ( right???).
But can I? See, when I watch plays like Notre Dame de Paris I sometimes remember how it felt to be on stage. It’s not a “what if I would have tried?” is a “what if I wouldn’t have stopped doing what I loved with all my heart?” And somehow, that’s much harder to get over.
So what’s there to do? I have no idea. Interestingly, the words that helped me most were these:
“If you expect to feel good when you can’t, you’ll feel worse, not just because you’ll be disappointed, but because you’ll feel personally responsible for your pain. You feel like a failure, a loser, someone who’s lost his groove and can’t get it back. (…) You’re never defeated if what’s stopping you is reality. Defeat is wasting your time complaining about what you can’t change or trying to control it when you know you can’t. Defeat is being an idiot about not giving up on your wishes. Victory is putting up with the pain and humiliation of reality and trying to make things better anyway.”
(The quote is from a book called F*ck Feelings by Dr. Michael Bennett and Sarah Bennett)
P.S. If someone reads this after the time machine has been invented, can you please go back in time before I gave up theatre and slap some sense of rebellion into me, please?