Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I'm not crazy, my mother had me tested: Part 7

Every year, those award shows roll around, and actors and actresses are lauded for their ability to suspend reality if only for a moment. They get fancy statuettes, get to give lengthy speeches, get the recognition for a job well done. I don’t get it. Acting isn’t hard. I do it every day.

Despite my ability to be profoundly awkward at times, I do get along pretty well in the normal world on a daily basis. I hold a regular job, go shopping (reluctantly), and socialize with friends and family. I get on with life. But my dirty little secret? I’m faking it.

I learned at a very young age that being teased and tormented for being different sucks, and that if I acted like the other kids, all giggly and social, I could blend in and deflect the taunts just a little bit. As I grew up, I became better at mirroring the expressions I saw, duplicating body language, and acting interested in pop culture. This doesn't mean I understood what I was mirroring, only that I could replicate what I was seeing. I remember telling my mother once that “I am so many different people.” She might have understood that to mean that I have different roles in life: daughter, student, friend. What I meant was that I have to act like so many different people during the day. I have to act like a daughter when I’m at home, act like a student at school, and act like a friend with others. Each of these acts were parts of me, but none of them were the real me. This is still very true today, and it can be exhausting. Every day I wake up and have to decide which character version of myself I am going to play, except I don’t have the script yet, and I won’t get it until it’s time to say my lines. I don’t get the luxury of dress rehearsals.

The problem for me is when my mirror breaks down. When that happens, I don’t have the recipe for what to do next, and have to come up with the right answer on my own. My responses can vary from freezing and staring blankly at a person to monologuing to making a stab at saying the right thing. If I miss the mark, I usually keep quiet and try not to embarrass myself even more.

I seek to be seen as normal, but the best I can do is act normal.  Think of it like a duck on water: calm and graceful on the surface but paddling frantically underneath.

In The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon makes stabs at mirroring. The character will mirror poorly, and the scene seems funny to normal people. In this clip, he's appearing calm and collected until he realizes he doesn't know what to do next. "Leonard, Leonard, Leonard, Leonard! Help!"

No comments: