Of Trust & Passion

I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to talk about in this post. I’ve been reading about the kind of stuff you should write, in order to get an audience. Getting an audience, of course, is the ultimate goal for any artist. In the age of noise we live in, you really have to reach out and find something to talk about that others can relate to. That’s according to Jeff Goins, who runs a very successful blog about writing. At first I thought to myself: I don’t have enough experience to talk about anything. What could I possibly give to people that they might need? I have some knowledge, I guess, in areas completely unrelated to one-another. At the same time I am very young so the fear is , I won’t be taken seriously. I mean, I have a hard time taking myself seriously sometimes. So, as I was pondering on this today I came to a conclusion, that what I do know is: what it’s like to be a creative person in search of their true passion. Yes. Because I’m not just only a writer and I know, that there’s plenty of people out there, like me, who have a lot of creative interests. I started out as an actress and singer and  only recently discovered that at the end of the day, writing is what gives me a true sense of accomplishment and makes me feel happy. Even if sometimes, like today, I have to force myself to sit down and type. Point being, I can tell you a little bit about what my journey has been like, in hopes that you will find it helpful and maybe a little inspiring. Here’s a story of how I found that writing is my passion, and the bumpy road I had to take to find it.

First of all, I’ve always felt like I’m kind of good in many areas, but never felt like I was actually exceptional in something. There are some people, who are just  phenomenal in this one thing they do, and their struggle is completely different from the struggle of people like me. I liked doing creative things regardless of what they were. As a teen, I had a hard time making friends, so I spent a lot of time online, writing on RPG forums. For those of you, who don’t know what an RPG forum is: it’s an online forum which is transformed and used as a Role Playing Game platform. The conditions of the universe you play in are described, as well as various locations (much like maps in video games). You create your own character and then proceed to play by describing what this character is doing, interacting with other players and their characters. I absolutely loved doing that, I spent hours writing posts and making up stories for the characters I created. After a while I became involved as a builder of such forums and eventually a Game Master, which is the person that creates adventures and leads other players through them. Because it was just a hobby and something I did for fun, I never took it seriously. And none of my family members did either. I recall countless discussions I had with my parents about the amount of time I spend in front of the computer, writing/playing. Never was it even considered a way of developing a skill or a passion. It was considered, if not a waste of time, a dangerously addictive activity. It’s hard to blame them. It was very unclear to them what it was exactly that I was doing, and they were terrified that at some point I will meet a pedophile who will lure me out and kidnap me, or molest me… Something like that. Legitimate fears I actually shared, to some extent. You can never be too careful online, especially if you’re a kid.  Fortunately, the only people I ever met were really cool, creative types, who much like me, had a hard time finding common ground with their piers at school. Most of those friendships didn’t last, but I also met one of my best friends of all time through that writing playtime. Life goes on, and time comes to graduate from high-school and pick a degree to pursue. School was never my thing but, I wanted to do something ambitious, yet as easily as humanly possible. I decided to take on Japanese studies. I picked that because it was kind of impressive to get in, I loved Japanese culture (anime and manga to be more specific) and all that was required of me, was that I took advanced English, Polish and Spanish in my matriculation exams. Since I was already fluent in English and Spanish, I only really had to worry about passing my Polish exam well. It went… Ok. At the end of the day I got into Japanese Studies and that was all that mattered. After the first year, I failed almost all my final tests, which threw me into plunges of depression. First of all, I never actually failed in anything. I was used to just kind of trying and kind of succeeding. In addition to that, the failure made me realize, that I didn’t really want to be a Japanese translator for the rest of my life. I loved the Japanese culture but not enough to dedicate myself to it completely. That was the first time I actually took the time to ask myself: what is it that I want to do? And the answer wouldn’t come, making my depression even worse. I had to do something, I just didn’t know what. I wanted to take a year off, figure things out for myself and find solutions, but my parents didn’t want to hear about it. „There’s no time to waste in life. You have to hit the ground running and make something of yourself. Whatever that something is, just something, doesn’t matter that you don’t know what you want, you’ll have plenty of time to figure it out after all is said and done. But of course, we also want you to be happy.” Then, my mom suggested I went to an acting school. In the meantime I also considered going to a music school for voice but that idea was short-lived. I don’t even remember why, but I’m pretty sure it had something to do with my grandmother being a musician and telling me how difficult music school is, and that I would never make it because it requires too much work. I don’t know if you’re noticing a pattern at this point, but can you see how family can try to be supportive and yet, at the same time, make you feel pressured into making choices you’re not ready to make? And when you’re stumbling in any sort of direction, that isn’t the safest way to go, they tell you you’re not good enough? They believe in you, but they don’t. Your family ever made you feel that way? Not that I didn’t give them reasons to act in this way. And of course I always knew that they really loved me, so all their reservations came from the fact that they wanted me to be successful, they just had little faith in my ability to do what needs to be done to get there. Moving on to: acting. Getting warmer. All my life, my mom has been telling me she saw an actress in me from the moment I was born. A conviction which only grew stronger as I started growing up: „I just knew it. You had the personality for it. I always thought you were gifted in that regard, you should do it!”I should probably mention at this point, that my mom went to an acting school herself. She did well at first, but gave up on her career later in life. After having two kids it’s kind of difficult to pursue this particular profession. She got an MBA and began to climb corporate ladders of various companies. Smart woman. Wonder how she would have survived the acting world. In my experience, intelligence is not your friend in this industry. Especially as a woman and a beginner. And so, with my mother’s blessing, I went off to an acting school. I loved acting. The more I learned about it, the more I loved it. But I hated everything else about the school. The teachers would constantly tell us we were worthless and didn’t have talent. There was one teacher in particular who regularly bullied me, calling me fat and accusing me of lack of empathy, both of which were supposed to make it impossible for me to ever have a career in this profession. Also, both untrue. But tell a young girl she’s fat and she will most definitely believe it. I decided to continue my education in the States. Where else? LA seemed like the best destination. Little did I know that after studying there, I would find that I love theater much more then TV and film and that I should have gone to New York. But the decision had already been made. Miraculously, we managed to get money to pay for it. The fact that I went through this school program and graduated, can only be credited to a tide of good fortune and extreme effort on behalf of my parents. See? They really do want me to be happy. Especially my dad, who thought that acting was a terrible idea from the beginning, yet still payed for my school. Now, here’s where things get ridiculously complicated. After my first year of college, I experienced and epiphany. Just a quick moment in time, where everything came together and a realization hit me: I should be a writer. That’s what I should be doing, I should write. You’d think that it’s great, right? I finally had the answer to the question I’ve been asking for the past 3 years, and it made perfect sense! It was the one thing that felt like it came from me and not someone else’s idea of me. However,  I felt like I had gone too far in my pursuit of acting to just change my mind like that. I mean, I had already asked my parents to suffer incredibly, so I could go to this school. They both gave it their all. How am I to tell them, that I changed my mind and that I actually wanted to do something else? And how could I trust myself? How could I be certain? So naturally, being the person that I am, I didn’t mention my doubts to anybody, trying to feel the waters. Seeing where the wind will blow. Having to struggle with that knowledge all throughout second year made me miserable and depressed. I didn’t find as much joy in acting as I used to, and I started to feel as if I wasn’t even good at it to begin with. Each time I was complimented on a performance I felt like I was being lied to. It may have all been in my head, but that experience was definitely not pleasant. I tried to push away my desire to write, though stories and ideas would come to me and I would begin to write them. But never with real commitment because I had resolved to commit to acting. That was a choice that I made and I had to stick with it. I told myself I wasn’t allowed to change my mind. I had to do this. But it soon became clear that you can’t force yourself to be something you’re not, even if you really want to. You can’t satisfy all the expectations your family has of you, because that way, you will never be happy. After over 2 years of inner battling between what I really wanted and what I felt was „right”, I gave in. I started by writing a show for Hollywood Fringe festival. And once I had done that, any doubt I had before was meaningless. I just wanted to do this, always. Write stories. Typing and seeing letters appear on a blank sheet in front of me fills me with happiness. It’s almost therapeutic.And who is to say that I can’t write plays and scripts and write the kind of roles I want to play? I was never meant to play a Bond girl. I’m too fat, as my wise teacher said.

This path was filled with frustration, desperation and moments of joy, and let me tell you right now, I don’t regret a second of it. I’m saying this, because I know that you might be in that point of your journey where you feel like you’re wasting your time. You’re not. Every step brings you closer and provides you with something that you will need further along the way. Life is just like video games. And here’s a couple of guide-lines I made up, but they’re also pretty much common knowledge:

  1. Give yourself time – there’s no rush. Everyone is on their own journey, follow where it takes you and you will find yourself, where you need to be, trust this.
  2. Listen to yourself – for me, that was one of the hardest things to do. Everyone was telling me what they thought I should be doing with my life and in all that noise, my own voice was drowned and almost impossible to hear. But it always spoke and when I listened, I could hear it.
  3. Trust – passion isn’t something you can miss out on. Not if you really want it. You will find it because it’s already in you. Whatever it is. It’s there and it will find you.
  4. Explore – don’t be afraid to try different things. Sometimes you need to try a lot of different flavors before you find the one that suits you best.
  5. Don’t second-guess yourself: You will. That’s just the way it goes for most people. But you have to remember that you are enough. If you want to do something, just go for it and learn about it later. Learn by doing it. Let me tell you, I have allowed myself to stop my own growth too many times by telling myself: I don’t have enough experience, I don’t know anything about this… Who cares? The worst thing that can happen is you’ll make a mistake and learn from it. As Shia LaBeouf said… JUST DO IT! And don’t listen to that voice in your head that tells you that „only special people can do that kind of stuff and I’m not special”. You decide what you are. So shut that voice up and do what you love.



Women Are Storytellers Too!

I’ll be honest. This is not my first attempt at writing a blog. The reason why it didn’t work out for me before was… Well, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to talk about. My rants would usually be inconsistent, depending on my moods. The non-existing writing schedule would soon dissipate and after a while I would just move on with my life. New project, new idea, go. I do however, hope that this time will be a little different. Mainly because at 23 I have a slightly better idea of what I think about the world. I have no illusions, or maybe I have many. I know my knowledge is very limited, but if people I admire allowed lack of experience to stop them from doing what they wanted to do, some of the greatest novels might never have been published. And the world would be a little sadder for it. I also finally figured out that writing is something that I really wish to dedicate myself to. It wasn’t an easy decision to make. The writing industry is probably one of the most challenging ones to enter right now. With the increasing number of people writing and publishing, and a decreasing number of people interested in reading, the competition is fierce. Fighting for the attention, when the attention span of an average adult is 8 seconds, can get a little too intense. But maybe that’s why it is so important to try? I don’t want to live in the world where all stories are shared in 140 characters or less. Maybe it’s the fear of change. Change is supposedly good for us, but is all change great? I don’t think it is. I would like to see my kids (if I ever have them) grow up in a world where books are not only seen in museums. I don’t want my kids to depend on other people’s imagination to be able to see stories that are being told. I would like them to be able to use their imagination. Especially since I’ve seen a couple of shows recently released for kids and I swear they are trying to make the little ones completely incapable of any sort of thinking. I mean, have you seen „Titans Go!”?

There is also another thing. The issue that actually pushed me to try and get into this whole blog scene. Since I wish to be a writer, I know I have to write. That’s the easiest step, though sometimes it seems like the hardest. Blogging is good practice, at least. But that’s besides the point. The thing is: in my desire to educate myself on the subject, I started researching and looking for people to look up to. I typed „best TV writers” in my google search engine. The list was long, but what I noticed and what put me up to this, was the fact that it consisted predominantly of men. It’s no secret that Hollywood is still very much dominated by men. And it upsets me. I find it hard to believe that women have no stories to tell or no talent to do so. Of course, some ladies did make it to the list: Jane Espenson, Mindy Kaling, Tina Fey and some others. The imbalance between the genders really stands out though. I thought to myself: „maybe it’s just a TV and film thing? Maybe it’s just Hollywood?” I thought that, knowing I would soon find it wasn’t just a Hollywood thing. After typing „best novelists of all time” I saw a similar disproportion. The ladies that made the list were the classics we all know about: Jane Austen, Bronte sisters, Virginia Woolf. Here at least Jane Austen made number one on the list, although I am not sure what puts a name in the front listing in a google search. It went further. I looked for bloggers. Quick link: 10 most inspiring bloggers in the world. ALL MEN. Really? You’re telling me that there’s not one female blogger out there who deserves to make that list? Are we all only capable of writing about fashion? Are our opinions and thoughts not inspiring? And who makes those lists? I want to know who decided that out of the gazillion blogs written by women none are inspiring enough to make that list? No way! I refuse to accept that! Women are not just fashionistas and we don’t just want to talk about boys.

To summarize my point: I would like to hear more female voices in the world of storytelling, before the art of writing becomes a thing of the past. And I wish to be one of the voices, heard in the narrative. Women have stories to tell. Women have personalities, imaginations and beating hearts. Women are educated and smart. Women need to be heard. If the majority of stories we see and read are told by men, it’s no wonder why so many struggle to understand women. We’re not portrayed as human beings. Most of the time women are plot devices, love interests, sexual objects, and hardly ever real people. If the stories we tell are all about boys and never about girls, is it any wonder, that kids grow up thinking: it’s a man’s world? After all, we all seem to agree, it would be nothing… Without a woman or a girl.

So, here’s my attempt at contributing to that. I’ll write to the best of my ability and do my best to get my voice heard, take full advantage of the opportunity that was created by those, who fearlessly fought for equal rights.

In all of this, I would hate to be seen as a raging feminist, so let me put a little disclaimer right here: I don’t hate men. I love them. I have a dad, I have a boyfriend and there’s many men that I look up to in my life. And my main focus isn’t going to be an issue of feminism. My main focus is still: telling stories and telling my story. My story just happens to be one of a girl living in a world that still belongs to men, who wishes to live in a world, that belongs to everybody.

Please share your thoughts with me! I love a good discussion. Plus, if you comment, that means you made it through this whole post and that’s impressive!