Last week, I went to my first acting class. I chose it because I've always loved theater and thought it would be a good way to strengthen my diction and general speaking skills. Even in Portuguese I find it extremely hard to articulate words, and one of my biggest dreams is to one day be able to speak clearly at the speed of my thoughts (okay, almost). I went to class with these quite pragmatical objectives in mind, but once I got there, I realized that what had actually pulled me to such studies was the thrill of being someone else. Though I have no intentions of becoming an actress - I don't even dare audition for a role in a college play - I'm eager to get into character, to finally become someone who can shout and jump, even if only for a few minutes on stage.
Everyone is paradoxical and everyone has many facets. Some of them we only show to a few special people, others only when we're alone. Most of the time, though, it's simpler to just choose one and let society define you by it. We want to be understood and to feel like we belong somewhere, and so it might seem easier to embrace a stereotype and, for the distant watcher's eyes, be no more than it. In a way, we're always acting accordingly to this one facet, and it's not unusual that we do what this stereotype is expected to. I know I face this situation a lot, and have lost count of the times someone referred to me as "the quiet girl with glasses". I kind of enjoy this definition because it means I'm playing my role well and it's easier to positively surprise people if you're underrated, but there are times when it feels more like a trap I've slowly and consistently set for myself.
I don't want to let my stereotype go, not yet, because it's an extremely comfortable position. If I want to ignore people around me and open a book, I can, because it's what my character would do. I know it's the kind of thing everyone has to leave behind at some point, but for now, my answer to the occasional un-nerdy outbursts is theater. Theater: crazy vocal exercises and memorization of other people's lines. The actor is free from his stereotype without necessarily having to leave his comfort zone, and that's precisely what I'm looking for. I might not have the diction to deliver long monologues, but I'll be the witch enchanting spells and making faces, covered by a messy hair and heavy makeup. The first thing the professor said in class was for us to free our inner stupid selves, and mine is dying to show up.
Most of my restrictions were imposed by myself and sometimes I'm not sure of how much of my stereotype I actually am - maybe I only tell myself I would be acting differently otherwise because it makes me feel stronger. I've always believed in the power of Change, though, and these acting classes will hopefully function as a transition for when my comfort zone finally becomes unbearable. I think my subconscious made me choose this course, already aware of a situation which hadn't truly struck me yet. I'm afraid I've lived too long in this stereotype and my voice will never rise up, but I'll let time and practice determine it. I'm tired of controlling my behavior, and if I unleash a chain at a time, maybe I'll find myself to actually prefer a facet I had still to explore. As for living undefined, that's the goal. Most people might be undefined towards themselves, but to let the world contemplate their paradoxes, to stand sure of who they are, wearing no masks, that's a real challenge. Afraid of taking away the mask, I'll at least try new ones. Maybe you have to be a bit of everything before finally not being any: nothing more than your own true self.