I remember watching a lot of TV as a little girl, especially in the summer months. I watched Cher and MaryTyler Moore, Twiggy and Sally Fields, Barbara Feldon and Lucille Ball. I was mesmerized by these funny, smart, beautiful people and imagined how nice my life would be I could just BE one of them. I carry a visceral memory of a sad, angst-y, longing, discontented, wishing, and jealous feeling in my soul. And who would ever want to be that dorky little Janice? I mean, really.
I didn’t know that I was a sucker. I hadn’t learned that screenwriters and producers polish. It all seemed so real. Realer than real. The characters looked perfect, engaged in clever-beyond-clever banter, no bad hair days.They were intelligent, pretty… the perfect person. Unless the script called for her to be not-so-perfect. Sigh. It would be so much nicer and happier for me to be her.
I eventually learned about all of that stuff that goes on behind the scenes. Here I thought she was for real, but she wasn’t! None of them were. What I watched was completely imagined, researched, scripted, designed, rehearsed, perfectly lighted, performed with re-takes, re-arranged, color enhanced, and set to music! This may seem terribly obvious, but because my eyes saw it, my brain believed it. I had to remember that when Keira Knightly finished a day of acting she didn’t go home to a dashing, swashbuckling good-guy pirate named Orlando Bloom and engage in more clever banter. Don’t even get me started on husbands! What real man can stand up to the myth of Mr. Darcy or the current day equivalent?
As these girlish angst-y feelings embarrassingly spilled over into my adult life, it gradually dawned on me that I needed to protect myself. I needed to do a little self talk. Or a lot of it.
When it sneaks up on me- that wistful wishing feeling- I have to remind myself of all of those things I just said. It is so not fair to be in competition with imaginary people following a script! We are all stumbling around down here and nobody has a script or producer or music that plays on cue. God made real people. Ordinary ones. Millions of them. Billions, even. Real life oscillates between dull and boring and thrilling and tragic and hilarious. And it’s REAL.
One day I told a friend about this angst-y feeling thing that pops up sometimes. She gave me a puzzled look. “Why would I ever compare myself to an actress?”
I can’t believe I’m the only one. Right?