Social awkwardness: I think the internet has robbed me of my ability to function face to face…

(Originally posted: Tuesday, May 12, 2009)

Sunday I auditioned. Before noon. For and with a really smart, cool group of individuals. Who know where to find this blog (hi) so I’m not going to talk too much about it, especially since what I’m interested in talking about really has nothing to do with the actual audition. In a nutshell, I managed not to psych myself out, to be present, to participate creatively, and even to have fun. I like them and I really want to know all of them. But I walked away completely frustrated. With myself.

After much thought and a careful cataloguing of all my symptoms, I have diagnosed myself with a serious and persistent case of shrinking violet-itis. And it certainly reared its ugly head at this audition. Which is completely ridiculous and, well, frustrating. Also, it’s completely by my own invention. I’ve discovered a whole new form of self-sabotage for myself.

Basically, what happens to me (and this audition isn’t the only time it’s happened, just the most recent occurrence) is that I come into a group of people where I don’t really know anyone, I only know them well enough to know I want to know them better, if that makes sense… anyway, they’re people I admire or respect or am maybe just a little bit in awe of…and I freeze up. Because I don’t know what to say or how to start a conversation or whatever. I get all shy and reserved and awkward. Which makes me freeze up even more because I’ve never been shy or reserved or awkward (socially speaking…there are many other kinds of awkward that I am an expert in) in my life and I don’t know how to handle it. Because it isn’t me. Except that apparently lately it is. I feel like I’ve completely lost my ability to articulate anything when I’m talking to people, which is so foreign to me that I don’t know what to do with it. Or how to fix it.

As a sidenote, my mom loves to tell the story of when I started French Immersion in SK. Apparently I was sick for a year. I say apparently because I was five and don’t remember. It’s all hearsay. Her theory on this is that I was so traumatized by suddenly having been robbed of my ability to communicate…because everyone was speaking a different language…that I made myself ill. This feels like an encore to that. Only minus the getting sick part. So far. Back to my point…

Eventually I end up frustrated because this stiff, unnatural version of myself that I become in these situations isn’t me. I don’t recognize myself and I would bet that no one I know outside of these moments would either. It isn’t an accurate representation of who I am as a person, or as an actress, in the case of this audition. So it’s sort of an acting problem, but I’m more bothered by it as a personal problem. It isn’t conducive to making new theatre friends. And it’s frustrating. And there is nothing more frustrating than being frustrated. Which is where I’ve been festering for the last several days.

An acting teacher once told me that “frustration is just anger without energy.” He was trying to demonstrate that playing frustration is impossible/not a strong choice. I think it’s a wonderful example of how acting lessons can cross over into real life. If you’ve ever been frustrated by something, you probably get what I’m saying. So my frustration needs some energy. Which is what I’ve been giving it for the last few days by not blaming all my issues on lack of sleep and having to be up and functional before noon on a Sunday (although I’m sure those are contributing factors to the awkward). And now I’m officially mad at myself for being so ridiculous. And in such an un-fun way. Hopefully the anger will propel me toward the solution…I’ll let you know.

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