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Facing the Pit

July 20, 2011

Just watched episode three of The Glee Project. It was all about Vulnerability and being able to tap into moments from your past that scarred you and relay them to others in your performance.

And as I watched the contestants write what they were vulnerable about on the board they wore in the video, I knew exactly what I would write on my board. And yet I had no idea how I would perform it.

My board would say Depression. It’s something that I’m embarrassed about. I don’t know how to convey it because I’ve spent so much time hiding it and learning to fight it. And I have learned to fight it and to deal with it. But at the same time, I haven’t learned to accept it.

No one is happy 100% of the time or sad 100% of the time. There is a balance and balance requires two sides. The Greeks understood this and they honored tragedy as a part of life that needed to be expressed as well as comedy. I don’t know how to accept that part of myself. I feel like a failure if I’m depressed. I don’t know how to express those emotions without completely breaking down.

This cripples me. Especially in my writing. I’m so afraid to dig into those emotions and discover what they really are because I’m afraid I’ll get lost again. I’m afraid of those feelings and the power they have over me.

As I watched the last chance performances on The Glee Project, I was especially moved by Damian’s rendition of “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” His board said NUMB and I wondered if I was numb too.

To feel happy, you need to feel other emotions too or else you don’t recognize the happiness for what it truly is. Maybe I’ve been living a monotone life, just satisfied not to fall back down into the pit of depression that took me a decade to crawl out of. It’s a legitimate fear. Crawling out of that pit is one of the biggest accomplishments of my life to date. I will never discount that.

But now I know I can’t ignore the pit. If I ignore it, I’m that much more likely to fall back in it than to soar above it.

I look back on the stories that have touched me the most and stayed with me the longest and there is one thing they all have in common: struggle. Everyone struggles with something. It is what makes us human. And it is a basic skill for any writer to learn to convey their character’s struggle on the page.

I’m not sure I’m ready to face the pit again, even from this distance. But I know I want to, to make me a better person and a better writer.

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