Defining a man

Originally posted on www.fearlessinc.com.au

Question: What is a Man?

The definition of a man is an evolving concept. It is influenced by changing understandings of our physiology and psychology. There is also fashionable trends that can influence what it means to be a man. For a young man, this can be very confusing. Add into this mix, strong parental figures.

Toughen up boy. Be a man.

For me, my definition of a man was strongly influenced by my father, and observing the boys at school. I was born in a small community and began schooling in a small class environment. Part way through this, we moved to the city and I was “thrown” into large classroom environments. I wasn’t ready for it. The “culture” shock was rather overwhelming. The hierarchy, rivalries, power-games, bullying, and macho-ism was utterly unfamiliar. I withdrew becoming the outcast, or no-mates character that always form in such groupings.

I began observing, and not liking very much, my own gender. They were posers, acting “tough” which actually meant being mean, and often violent. There was a clear structure where the boys did not pick on the “tougher” boys, but in order to be a part of the pack, they had to show they were “tough”, so they picked on those that they saw as weaker. People like me, and girls in general.

My father’s solution to this was to encourage me to fight back. To be “tough” like them. After all, my dad was “tough”. Yet, I had watched these displays of toughness, and I knew that people got hurt. Even the ones being tough. I couldn’t understand why anyone had to be hurt in order to be to be a man.

My mother got me into self-defence and I think the intention was to teach me some fighting moves. I don’t think they realised that the classes they had set up for me were less about attack, and more about defence. I often wonder if, had my father known what Ju-Jitsu actually was, if he might have insisted I do Karate instead. So I learnt things like evasion, deflection, pain control, and most importantly, not getting angry or aggressive. The best form of self-defence is to avoid conflict if you can. If you can’t, find a way to end it quickly without getting aggressive. Disarm, restrain, and avoid. For me, it was a match to my evolving philosophies.

I endured the teasing, the bullying, and unreasonable hatred for 12 to 13 years, and I came out stronger for it. I still recall meeting ex-students from my schooling years, ones who had been so very cruel, and many seemed to be more emotionally uncertain of their lives then I was.

Getting it right, the first time.

My father was an impatient man. Trying to help him with anything was usually a path to humiliation and distress. If I couldn’t grasp a concept, or didn’t seem to be quick enough on an activity, he would often become frustrated, take over, all the while claiming I was “bloody useless.”

Men, it seemed, must enjoy pulling apart cars, being mechanical, doing laborious tasks, putting themselves in high-risk situations… basically tangible things. He would take me on site with him when he was working his own installation business, send me into the grid-work of exposed roofing supports of large work-sheds, drilling holes through concrete walls, working in extreme conditions like within the roof of someone’s home in the height of an Australian summer. He wanted me to take over his business.

I began to believe that I was never going to be good enough. I could never seem to get any sense of satisfaction from this. I felt like I was a failure, and that something must be wrong with me. I just wasn’t interested in doing the things we wanted me to do.

On the other hand, my mother was artistic. A potter, and painter. Her work inspired me, and I often tried to find my own ways of creating similar art. I tried my hand at drawing, and while I was only so good at it, I loved doing it. I loved taking pictures, and while opportunities were rare for me as a child, when they were there, I relished it.

However these pursuits would never make me a man. I’d never be able to make a career out of them. They were great as a hobby, but I needed to find a real job.

Ending the pain

Age 12, end of Primary School. The move to High School loomed liked a shadowy demon. The thought of high school, with the same punishment, the same kids, frightened me almost to death. I tried to take my life. I was deadly serious about it. I have my father’s rifle. I knew what a hollow-tip round could do. I couldn’t reach the trigger. My arms were too short. I became scared that my parents would be home soon. I quickly hide any evidence. Resolved to try again later, but fear of my father ever finding out stayed my hand from further attempts, and I endured.

I had even failed in that.

Creativity is not manly

I discovered theatre in my final year of high-school, or should I say, rediscovered. After a disenchanting experience at Primary School, theatre was never a thing I considered until it was re-introduced to me in my final year of high-school. I loved it. I wanted to do more. I wanted to study it.

I was told that I would never make a career out of it. I needed to find a real job. A man’s job. Look son, computing is the way of the future. You should do something in computing. This theatre stuff was a great hobby, but you need a real job.

Still very much under the sway of my parents, too scared to go against my father, I did just that. This would be beginning of a change in my perspective. I met new people who could see me for what I couldn’t see in myself, or was told not to see. I was shown that I had other choices. I slowly began to break the walls that I believed should define me. I began to define myself.

Redefining a life

I did as electives, theatre, philosophy, and creative writing. I was employed as a student tutor, and found that I loved teaching. Slowly, the social creature that had laid dormant for so many years, the being I had been in that small town so far away, was slowly revealed, under the layers of encrusting, hardening, and toughening up. Under the layers of false man-hood.

I continue to chip away the bits today, such is the legacy of my youth. My father has long since lamented the choices he made for me all those years ago, and likes to remind me that he was wrong, and that he he had encouraged me in my theatre, I could be something different than I am. Late comfort, but comfort all the same.

Everyday I learn more about myself for me, not to any standard or expectation of what I should be. I have my own definition of what it means to be Jeff. I am a man in physiology, but a person in psychology.

So if you were to ask me now what defines a man, I will tell you that lies define a man, because you’re asking the wrong question.

You should be asking what defines you.

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Silly Selfie – Lessons in acting

 Acting is so much easier when you are prepared to leave your pride in the change room. So is life. 

Reflection on Familiar Skies

Lake_PanoramaThere are times when the familiar cold hand reaches out to me, accompanied by a darkness in the skies of my mind. Like the disruptive friend who just doesn’t seem to get the hint, no matter how blunt you make it, or maybe it is more like the uncomfortable yet obligatory visit of your parents that you have to endure at least every now and then.

These days, when I feel the presence of darkness, I find myself reflecting. I have been here before, many times. Sometimes I have been alone, and in those times I came close to succumbing. Other times, I had help, and it is to these that I focus.

There have been a number of people who have come into my life at a time that I needed some acknowledgement, some acceptance, some love. They did not do much. They showed they cared. They showed I was acceptable. They gave me hope.

Sadly, many of these people have little to do with me now, having either moved away in search of their own happiness, or worn weary of me as time so often wears us down. Some I may have inadvertently slighted, for which I will always regret. Others have simply vanished.

Still, these people did something special for me. They opened their hearts, and shared it with me for a while, and it is a treasure that no amount of money can buy. These are cherished memories, gifts of immense wealth.

For each of these gifts, I hold a special place in my heart, regardless of our current standing. These people will always be welcome if ever our paths cross again. I cannot value their kindness enough. They are special to me.

So as the cold hand of darkness reaches for me again, I find some strength from those gifts, those treasures, those memories. I draw on them so as to weather the storm, alone if I have to. I will not flinch or cry out, because I am stronger for it.

And yet a voice inside says “Wouldn’t it be nice if someone was there for you again….”

Wistful thinking.holding-hands

The Romantic Role Model

Mansplaining: to explain something to someone, typically a man to woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronising.

I am not about to, so don’t worry, but I am seeing this term, and the actions of the definition therein far too often. It is the Counter Wife/Women-is-always-right movement I suppose, which is a little understandable, but only a little. I mean a real little little little.

The problem is using an approach that is condescending and derogatory is counter productive which ever side of the fence you sit. I fighting fire with fire only works when you know what you’re doing. When you don’t you just get a bigger fire, and on the internet, wildfires can spread incredibly fast.

I want to focus on a particular brand of Mansplaining, more of a topic in itself, and that is the “You-make-me-do-it” fallacy argument. You know, the argument that goes along the lines of “When you didn’t dress that way, lean over like that, talk that way, post nice pics, etc, etc, etc then I wouldn’t be this way.” Those arguments.

If you have read any of my earlier posts about control, then you’ll already know what I think in this regards. If you haven’t, here’s a brief recap;

No-one makes you do anything. You choose your own thoughts and actions.

What really gets me is the contrast between the cultural icons that litter literature (both written and visual) which clearly show that a respectful and considerate outlook is a far more favourable trait in a man then the lustful self-righteousness we see off screen. How can we see this sort of role model in our everyday entertainment, and yet not be inspired to be like said examples?

And here is where I connect back to acting…

Mr Darcy

Let’s take a character that many consider to the penultimate depiction of the ideal romantic lead. He starts of aloof, even a little high-and-mighty, and gradually comes to realise his faults and works to change his ways, becoming more present, aware, and compassionate. He is a no time lustful, nor untoward the female characters in his story. He is certainly not one to rest the fault of thoughtless actions upon the shoulders of another. He accepts that he is the master of his own presence. When he is struck with feelings of love, they are from a place of respect and admiration, not a desire to grope. He is aware of his feelings yet chooses to remain in control of himself and act with self-respect.

This character appears in mainstream literature all the time, even in some of the present day superhero-movie franchises. Please consider that many of the heroes in our lives share similar qualities with Mr Darcy; they are flawed but work to overcome, they ultimately respect others even though they can be a little cheeky about it, they are ultimately honest and reliable, even though they may not start out that way.

Even our real-life heroes exhibit  similar qualities, and when they don’t meet these qualities, or it is revealed that they have somehow been otherwise, they experience a rapid fall from grace. For example, Tiger Woods, Golfing phenomena and with all the hallmarks of an honest family man, master golfer, honourable and respectful… then it crumbled. People and companies wanted nothing to do with him for a very long time after his indiscretions were revealed, and while he has accepted his mistakes and worked hard to regain some of his former standing, but the tarnish will never be completely removed. Admired when he fit the image of an ideal man, then shunned when that image was shattered.

Yet many men in general seem to stick to this fallacy that their actions are not their own, and thus expose themselves for the weak and fearful creatures they are. This is not the attitude of a courageous man, to deny responsibility for the words and actions committed by their own physical bodies.

Be the Romantic Lead

When you mansplain away the responsibility for your own actions, you are playing the role of the arrogant coward. You are the Wickham, rather than the Darcy. The one whom is either reprimanded, forced to conform, or left with nothing.

Do a Google search into the qualities that make for popular, interesting, and even romantic men, and you will find the consistent appearance of kindness, respect, and self-control. You will definitely NOT find selfishness, arrogance, conceitedness, and a willingness to blame others for your actions. Those are traits usually associated with the second in command of the bad guy, not the hero.

Nice guys don’t come first is something that was said to me a lot growing up. Usually by other boys. To me it evokes ideas of driven selfishness in order to achieve a goal, not matter the cost to others, and that being “nice”, which I take to mean considerate, paced, and cautious, means you may mist the prize. Well, that may be so, but what is so great about being first anyway? While the winner of a race is celebrated, the one that stopped to help his rival is often remembered longer, if not who they are, but what they did at the very least.

And if the prize is at the cost of the respect I get from others, then you can keep your prize.

The act of kindness, consideration, and respect is the act that moves people. Sacrificing the self-glory, which apparently is so incredibly important, in order to help another earns more respect I believe. It’s why people love such stories, even if they don’t personally behave as such themselves.

If you are a guy who is truly keen to get the attention of a loving and respectful woman, then you would do well to look at the types of male heroes they respect in literature, and maybe try to find some of those same qualities in yourself. I can promise that they are there, you just have to choose to use them, and not just for a little while.

Throw away your childish pride. Take the courageous step. Take control of yourself and be a man.

Strange Occurances

closerposterv2-350This week, the stage play I am in opened for its first three shows. Closer at the Old Mill Theatre in Western Australia. The show itself has been a real test of some of my personal inhibitions, and prudish ideas. It has been a real awakening for me as an actor, and as a person.

In my last post, I revealed that I am, and have always been, and have no problems with being, a non-religious person, otherwise known an atheist. Yet I have  “belief” that there is something more, as yet unexplained. There are messages to be found in the world, and I have had a sequence of interesting coincidences that have occurred in conjunction with this show.

With only three nights currently done out of 11 in total, for each night there has been a connection to my past.

On opening night (Friday) I was shaking hands with an enthusiastic individual who offered some great feedback. In an email later, they revealed to me that they went to the same high school as me, and had observed and felt bad with regards the bullying I endured. They also revealed undisclosed feelings for me at the time. Those feelings have passed now, and I would not have been able to respond in kind, but I was flattered and encouraged all the same.

I too had my own crushes during school. Due to my lowly status, and general reserved, shy nature, I never acted upon them in anyway. Well, apart from one or two rather embarrassing, hesitant attempts. I have in recent years been able to express these now old, and dimmed feelings, and have been met with coy appreciation. The ability to reveal these feelings, even many years after the fact, is a very relieving experience, so I can appreciate what it may have meant for this person.

The regret they held, and may still hold, that they were unwilling to intervene for me when being bullied, I feel is unfortunate. Those years are years which I admit to having blocked to some degree, but I would never hold accountable anyone else for what happened. Neither the protagonists, nor the spectators. First I can’t hold the fire that anger or vengeance would require. It’s corrosive. Nor can I hold resentment for being unprotected, or supported. Sticking your nose into a troubled situation is frightening. I have done it myself, and also walked away. I am guilty as the next guy.

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

On the second night, the person that I consider to be my first ever friend came and saw the show with his wife. I have not seen him in many many years, and to reconnected was wonderful. I did once have a crush on his sister, who was closer to my age, but moving from the small town of my birth, to the world of the most isolated capital city in the world changed me too much. It brought back memories many years lost. It is incredible the storage capacity of the human mind.

Then our third performance was an afternoon matinee, and another fellow student from high-school. Now I knew of this person, but didn’t really have a lot to do with them, but we were able to chat about various things, along with her mother, and both were very complimentary with my show, but there was a sense of equality in that I felt a creative aspiration.

In later communications, I found (or was re-affirmed) that they had an interest in theatre, but were daunted by the effort and time required. Now this is something that I know holds many people back. It did once hold me back.

If this is a passion, then effort and time has less meaning. Passion is a nutritional commodity of its own. Unrealised, it stagnates and can be corruptive. Given regular exercise, it finds its own niche, and finding the time and energy becomes secondary concern.

With all that, I find it intriguing that these connections have come at the time they have, and in the confined clustering of one a day. I can’t help but feel there is a message here. Then I realise the name of the play. Closer. Closer to friends. Closer to my past. Closer to myself.

Coincidence is one thing. Clustering coincidences, while possible, seems a little to surreal.

Born an Atheist

AtheistBornI have been reflecting a lot recently, on a variety of things. One recurring theme through many of my personal blogs is the idea of freedom of belief, yet I haven’t really delved into what are my beliefs, or if I have any. It’s a dangerous field it seems, causing rifts and contention almost everywhere one looks. There are whole YouTube channels dedicated to the debunking of either side of the argument, and I have been watching a few lately.

In the beginningquote-all-children-are-born-atheists-they-have-no-idea-of-god-baron-d-holbach-53-52-18

According to my birth certificate, I was born under the Church of England, an Anglican branch of faith, yet religious education and enforcement was utterly absent in my childhood. My parents, as I recall, were either not big on the whole faithful devotion thing, or were non-believers. As such, I never had reason to question religion because it simply was not there. It was had a few Bible Study sessions at school, but it was never something that I considered more than metaphoric, or abstract. For much of my childhood, I was never given the motivation nor reasons to “have faith” as it were.

I grew up with electronics, math, mechanics, english, geography, and computers. Tangible and logical studies that encouraged investigation, study, research, and a rational that there is always something more to learn. My awareness of religion as a larger entity did not come until much later in my life.

Burgeoning Awareness

I think my first true and most impacting experience with religion was a youth religious group that I was invited to by an old school friend. Now, I’d been to church once or twice before for things like funerals, weddings, and on behalf of a family member, but I had walked away from those experiences unchanged in my awareness. It was not something that was a part of my life. This experience was something else entirely.

The devotion, focus, and dare I say, mania that I saw was disturbing. To me, it felt dangerous, and I slipped out at the first chance I got. I felt that I had seen extreme form of religious fervour, but it left me feeling a little apprehensive about entering other places of worship for anything other than weddings and funerals.

Let me be clear, not all services that I have attended have been anywhere near as bad as that experience, but until that point in time, I was not aware how extreme it could be. I have since learned, as we all have, that extreme faith can have distressing consequences.

Prior to this first experience, religion to me was just something that some people believed in. After this, I knew it was something more to some people. As a result, I began to notice that I was a little unique among my friends.

Alone in the FaithlessAtheist1

It became apparent that many of my friends had some degree of religious faith that gave them personal comfort and direction. Interestingly enough, I don’t think anyone tried to convert me, apart from that one scarring experience. Then again, I tended to lead a rather isolated life-style, maintaining a few good friends, so maybe there just wasn’t much opportunity.

In fact, I was, and still am, surprised to find a few good friends that I have either studied or worked with fo years reveal they had religious leanings. It was simply that religion didn’t enter into my personal life or consideration of others. I never judged people for their beliefs, because they were never relevant to me.

The same cannot be said for others however. Generally speaking, I have personally not experienced much negativity with people of faith, but I have witnessed plenty. I have gotten to know people before being aware of their ideals, which meant I struggled, and still do struggle, to understand why others have difficulties with this. It was sad that some of my friends missed the chance to know some wonderful people because of simple differences in ideology.

Who knows, I may lose some friends with my revelations above.

What Am I?AtheistDog.jpg

So I have been wondering recently, in terms of belief, what exactly am I? Reviewing the various definitions and arguments for faith, or lack of faith, you have a multitude of religious faiths, and then you have Atheists or Agnostics, and there is even some variation in that too.

I don’t believe in the existence of a God, of any faith, although I acknowledge that much of our modern society is founded on the belief in such things, dating back to the dawn of language. Gods have come and gone over the centuries, and the legacies of many linger today. Thursday is named for Thor, the god of Thunder for example.

And I am not hedging my bets, just in case, so I am not Agnostic. You either acknowledge the possibility of a God or gods, or you don’t. Agnostic it seems to me, is a non event.

As an Atheist, one can still believe in something having some sort of controlling power, or point of creation for humanity. It could be aliens that brought us into being, or a general supernatural power, or energy. Now I do entertain such ideas, yet I hold little worth in said ideas for the lacking or contradictory evidence, and this is a key point.

My world is based around what I can either demonstrate personally, or have seen enough evidence, research, and tested theoretical propositions to provide a structured basis for understanding. According to what I have read and seen, this makes me a Sceptical Atheist. While I have a few odd ideas about what could be, for example, a global consciousness of sorts, I am not committed to this idea, because I have insufficient proof, only anecdotal theories, to be mostly certain.

Sherlock Principlesherlock.jpg

In very general terms, religion seems to take a concept and then configure the evidence to match the desired result, discarding what doesn’t support the ideal. Science usually starts with the evidence and works toward determining a concept.

The former would appear to have a rigid guide to what is acceptable. The latter seems to invite questioning, and uncertainty.

Explaining what you don’t understand as a higher power, unknowable by definition, all-powerful, stops further investigation. What would be the motivation to push further, expand, develop, and progress, when the perception was that there was nothing further to find? This is the argument that doesn’t work for me. I was brought up to question, to not be satisfied with what I do know.

I’d like to point out here that I realise not all religious people think in such black and white terms, and there are some who have been able to reconcile scientific endeavour with religous faith. I do use the extreme variations as examples here only.

Sometimes, in science, you have a theory before you have the evidence. Rather than accepting the theory, a scientist will try to prove the theory wrong in order to prove it right. This is done in a few ways, which boils down to either;

  1. prove the theory is flawed or false, or
  2. show that alternate, and more easily verifiable theories can exist.

If you look at all the evidence, and cannot do either of the above, then the theory must be true. However, this assumes that you can become aware of all the possible ways of testing a theory at once. This may not be true.

Until recently, many criminal cases remained unsolvable, or falsely solved, due to the inability to test for certain things. The knowledge and technology did not exist at the time that would have helped solve the case to a near certainty. This is science. It evolves and adapts. Theories are tested and re-tested. It is never satisfied with the last discovery. It is never satisfied with an utlimate answer, although it is the pursuit of the ultimate answer that drives it forward.

It is, for me, this ever evolving cycle of discovery and learning that excites me. As a Sceptical Atheist, I see questions to be answered every where.

The Hard Road Part 9 – Making a Stand

This brings the story to almost now, and there are things happening in my life now that once upon a time, I may have been unable to manage, and may very well have found myself contemplating the unthinkable yet again. Yet I am not. I feel I have “matured,” and in the true sense of the phrase.

I will say that when I compare my life experiences to others, I do not feel I have suffered as bad as some, and for that I am grateful and saddened equally. I know how it felt for me at my lowest points. To imagine someone going through worse is heart breaking. I would not wish it on my worst enemy.

I know that I could potentially come off as being arrogant, self-righteous, or similar, and that is certainly far from my intent. This has been a process that has helped to clarify many things in my life. It is the final step for me in becoming whole. I have let go, so to speak.

“When we let go, we are free”

Yet that phrase is a little misleading I feel. In some respects we let go, and in others we regain the reigns.

  • We let go of worrying about things we cannot control, and instead take the responsibility of our choices.
  • We let go of external expectations, and give ourselves permission to express our desires.
  • We let go of the lies and take back ownership of our truth.
  • We let out the bad to reclaim the good.

For me, it has become about perspective, and being aware the we will all have a different one. I can only be true to my perspective, and when I find something new, I adapt and evolve. I like to consider myself open minded, yet I will defend my right to choose what is right for me.

I certainly have let go of a lot of things, and found a new level of balance inside. It has had some interesting side-effects.

  1. My general tolerance levels have increased, and substantially so. I am not easily startled any more, much to the frustration of my daughter and her mother. I often scare them by simply entering the room, whereas their attempts to startle me are frequently met with a simple glance and “Hello.”
  2. It takes a lot to irritate me. Before, I would work very hard to hide any upset of anger, and would often sulk or mope as a result. These days, I find that I am less inclined to do so, preferring instead to think about things.
  3. I have not shut off my feelings, but now consider them more of an information service, rather than a directive. When seen in this way, I find that when I feel an emotion (anger, fear, sadness, joy, lust, love) I can see the options they present, and then make a choice that satisfies my needs, both emotional and intellectual.
  4. I have become more aware of my body. I can feel things changing in my body more keenly than ever before. I can sense the beginnings of alcohol intoxication long before it actually starts to affect me, or when I take cold and flu tablets, I swear I can feel the effects as it hits the blood stream.
  5. Not only have I become more aware of my self, I have been able to take more control over my body. When I feel anxious, it is an incredibly simple matter of focussing and gaining some level of control.

This is not to say that I don’t continue to suffer periods of anxiety, depression or darker emotions. I have developed the capacity to handle them better. It is almost like my reserves, which had previously been tapped out just trying to sty afloat, now have space to spare. When trouble presents itself, it takes a while to fill the reserves.

I don’t expect anyone to change their way of life because of what I say, and if they choose to consider my thoughts, then I would be happy if my words help.

My personal rules for life.

  • Aim high and expect nothing.
  • Don’t sweat what you can’t control.
  • If it is life-threatening, likely to cause harm, or will affect many people, then it probably warrants some thought.
  • Don’t enforce your beliefs on another, and do not let another enforce their beliefs on you.
  • Do consider another’s point of view, and respect their right to choose their own path.
  • Offer advice when asked, or at least ask permission first.
  • Placing blame gets no-one anywhere. Focus on resolution rather than attributing fault.

I thank you for staying with me for this tale. For those who may have just joined, if you would like to read from the beginning… The Dark Path Part 1

The entire story, both series, can be found under the Depression menu option above.

The Hard Road Part 8 – Perspectives

I was changing my view of the world. What I began to realise, and not just superficially, but innately, was just how much our world view is dependent on our individual perspectives. We aren’t just all different, we see the world differently. Yet the evidence is all around us.

I began to appreciate how much I lived my life with platitudes without meaning. I would say I believed in certain ideas and concepts, but my actions and choices often contradicted what I felt. More often I was acting in the way I thought I was expected to, which was in direct conflict with my desires. I was disconnected.

Suddenly certain phrases and bits of advice took on new and deeper meanings.

“Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff.”

This deceptively simple statement holds a lot more truth that I ever gave it credit for. The things we get worried about, when one looks at them from a distance, how much meaning do they really have? It is so easy being the observer in another person’s life to see them issues that often get the most stress, anxiety, or attention, are often the most meaningless.

That may sound a little harsh, and honestly, it is. The thing was, I could see that in other people, but I didn’t apply the same scrutiny to my own life. I had developed a reactive tendency to find the worst in any situation, and usually at my own expense. So a situation that I would see as trivial in another’s life, I would see as another testament to my own failures.

I began forcefully apply the same observations I made on others to myself, and discovered something; there is at least two sides to any situation. One is always “better” than the other, and I was CHOOSING the worst of the options.

I think that realisation itself was the biggest shock. I was actually choosing depression over any alternatives. That may need a bit more explaining.

I gave up control of my decisions by letting in the voices and expectations of others, and allowing them to influence my choices and decisions. I may not have known better. I may have been naive. I still allowed it, but accepting this fact was hard… and I wanted to know why.

It took stepping out of my emotional perspective, which was a lot harder than one might imagine, but once done, I could see what my actual flaws were, which were to actually believe that I was flawed. This belief fuelled my drive to not trust in myself, and rely on the advice of others. Even those who didn’t have much to do with my life any more. I had allowed my life to be driven mainly by emotions, guided by well-meaning yet misguided advice.

Balance Equals Harmony

When viewed rationally, things are usually far more trivial than they seem emotionally. “Don’t sweat the small stuff” is a very rational piece of advice, because it is with a analytical approach that facts can be assessed. This is what we need to be telling our emotional sides, and I wasn’t.

Looking back over my life, my rational side had been rather beaten into submission by various circumstances and people, and I hadn’t done much to take it back. Now I had the opportunity to do just that. My experiences, both bad and good, now found a new use in reconstructing the spirit of myself. There was good to come from everything I had been through, I choose to see the good in every situation, and as I have described a few times already, when I made the choose, things got better.

In the end, my only real mistake was in not accepting responsibility for my own choices. I needed to find a balance between rationality and emotionality. I need to find the calm. I need to take back control over the only thing I had any right, or ability to control: me.


 

I am nearly finished with the series, and I invite you to read my other posts on my journey. The first series: A Darker Path. Series 2 – The Hard Road.

So many things

This weekend has been a rather interesting weekend. First I bump into a friend who tells me they struggle with their Vlog. Please check it out. Something I am very familiar with with regards my blog, having struggled for a long while to find anything interesting in myself to blog about, I can understand the frustration with putting something out there and not seeing anything for it. Letting go of caring was a big step in that regards. Letting go of some dark demons was another, more important one.

Writing about my experiences with depression has really changed my own self-perception. Back in University, I used to write little nonsense stories and poetry, but at some point, that just became too hard. Then it became too hard to write about anything. I told myself I wasn’t interesting, and that nothing I could write about would ever inspire, entertain, or even touch another person, so why should I bother. I stayed like that for a number of years, something I will touch upon sometime in the future.

Then I become aware of a number of happenings (and almost happenings), in my immediate circle, and in the world in general. Several people’s experiences set me down a path of personal revelations, and honesty. The final key in the lock was that of Jared Padalecki and his campaign to raise awareness for suffers of depression. His “Always Keep Fighting” movement motivated me to write, and boy, did I write.

And I haven’t really stopped. While I have reached a turning point in my story, it is not the end. There is more, yet out of respect for those closest to me, I am holding back for now.

The second thing to happen was to hear that Jared had suddenly excused himself from a convention under questionable circumstances, with some equally concerning tweets. Then today, I read an interview of less than a week old, where he opens up about his clinical depression. The man who ultimately inspired me to open up did not only relate to people suffering depression, he was a suffer also.

Depression comes in all forms. Unlike Jared, mine is not clinical. It has been brought on by environmental factors. What is does show is that no-one is immune to depression. It can affect us all in various ways, and in different degrees. For me, opening up and admitting, first to myself, then to others, was the biggest step for me. It has freed up so much in myself that had previously been locked.

I cannot imagine the struggle others feel as they battle with their own self-identity, or their own private demons. I have had, and continue to have, my own, and depression is a very personal experience.

The difference for me between where I was to where I am, is I no longer write for others. I write for myself because it serves a process of healing and strength for my soul. For others, it may, and will, take on other forms. Yet I believe that the pursuit of PERSONAL satisfaction in whatever you do is a most important tool in managing the darker aspects of human nature.

In order to change the world, start with your own perception of it. Start with yourself.

As a side note, in addition to this weekend having some interesting stories about identity and depression, it has also been a weekend of achievement. Three commercials rough-cut for review, and show reel for a talented young presenter, and a near disaster for the last episode for a web-series which was plagued with mishap after mishap, yet all achieved by Sunday morning, leaving me the rest of the weekend to rest, watch Supernatural, and eat copious amounts of junk food.

An interesting weekend indeed.

Sanity Check

I am not sure how to begin. This week has been… Traumatic? No, that’s too dramatic. Eye opening! That sounds misleading. Extreme. Probably about the closest I guess. Extreme excitement. Extreme fear. Extreme determination. Extreme self-undermining.

I knew things were going to be hard, or at least harder, as I change direction in my career. Not a simple change of direction, but a full 90 degree sharp turn with full twist and double pike!

My mind is all over the place, overwhelmed, daunted, and in conflict with itself, which is rather frustrating let me tell you. I have been somewhat more emotional than my usual self, and considering that some people consider me to already be quite emotional, that must mean…

Despite all the signs that I have had, something inside keeps trying to hold me back. The same thing that has been holding me back for years.

So I want to list some of the reasons I am doing this big thing, and some of the signs that are screaming at me that it is the right choice.

  1. Acting and Performance is something that has always been a part of me. My parents have recordings of me as a toddler performing. I had no grasp of words, but I certainly had an understanding of comedy.
  2. Even after continual contrary advice, and even a few bad experiences, acting has always found me. Rarely have I had to actually go looking for it. Opportunities have always been there, offering me candy, or some other treat.
  3. It has always been easy for me. That’s not to say that I started off brilliant. I wasn’t, but learning, developing, trying new things, has always felt so natural and right somehow.
  4. Shakespeare never confused me… for long. Neither did other, much earlier forms of theatre. I just got it.
  5. I auditioned for my agent, and she agreed to sign me up on the spot. I was not expecting that, and neither were a few other people who helped me get the audition in the first place.
  6. I am currently waiting for a Feature to be released, which, I have been secretly informed, has some big news this month (no, not a release). I am in a short film being filmed currently. I an AD on another short film. I am consulting on a script. All this happening within weeks of each other! Sudden wave of stuff.
  7. I am not alone. There appears to be a wealth of people all making big life changing decisions around me. The time is right for change.
  8. Most importantly are the people who have lined up behind me, congratulated my “bravery”, and believe in me.

The optimist in me points and says “SEE?!? It’s meant to be!”

The pessimist in me says “That’s a lot of pressure.”Thinking_Troll

I recognise him now. He’s my own personal Troll. Well, back under the bridge with you, where you belong. You know, you’ll turn to stone in the sun.

Much better.