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To me, in the August of 2007.

August 1, 2012

Oh my Dear,

Look at you.  You are just ending the Worst Year of Your Life.  It’s the worst one so far, anyway.  I know it was horrible, even if no one else does.  Your feelings are valid.  You are not crazy, but things are not good right now.  Right now you’re not eating, you’re working out too much, you look fucking awesome, and you have never been so unhappy.  You have lost your faith.  But it’s okay.  You’re coming to the end.  Don’t lose heart. (And please: eat something.)

I want to start by telling you that the worst is really over.  I must also point out that you kept yourself suffering longer than you had to.  You knew you should get out of this situation, but you didn’t.  You knew you’d be happier doing something else, but you’re still doing this.  You are afraid of the unknown and all that.  You decided instead to kill yourself over and with your “art.”  But art isn’t suffering–it’s supposed to be cathartic, downright fun at times.  This is neither of those, and you know it.  Why are you here?  Getoutgetoutgetout.

You thought your pain would produce great art, but it has turned out to be masturbatory instead.  No wonder you hate yourself: you know you are better than bullshit.  Lucky for you, you are still young.  You’ve learned your lesson early.  You will never do this again, never compromise yourself so much again.  You will almost do it, but you will get out earlier next time.  Perhaps after that, you won’t get involved at all.  It will be good when you finally reach this point.  I look forward to it.

Don’t Freak Out.  I know you are dealing with a lot, but you are ignoring a basic truth.  You feel like you can’t do anything about what goes on in your life.  But you can.  Everything is a choice.  To get up in the morning, to brush your teeth, to go to a day job, to prepare for an audition, to sleep in, to wallow, to go for a walk, to write love letters that you will keep in a drawer and never send (not to him anyway)–behind the doing of each of these things is the choice to do them.  We are only the sum total of our actions.  Appreciate your ability to choose, and choose well.  Then follow through.

Don’t waste your time on trying to gain approval from people who aren’t interested in being in your life, artistically or otherwise.  Don’t waste your time on trying to gain approval, period.  That need will never be sated, and will only distract you from the people who already and actually care about you and your well-being.  Do not take those people for granted.  Do not take yourself for granted.

Don’t settle for what you can get because what you want is too hard to gain.  The despair over not pursuing what you truly want will do more to kill you than failure of an attempt.  I’ll tell you something you don’t know yet: when you gave up singing, you rented out space in part of your soul.  Take it back.  Work hard, stay focused, take some pressure off yourself.  Keep moving forward.  Let yourself enjoy what you love.  Don’t be embarrassed or worry it’s cliché to care about these things, or to just simply care.  There is nothing wrong with common delight.  It’s unifying.  Don’t be afraid to share what you love with people.  Don’t be afraid of people.

You will pack up and try to leave your problems behind.  They won’t go away.  You can run far and perpetually, but you can never get away from yourself.  Don’t try to.  Take a good look at the things you don’t like, and find instruction there about how to address those things.  Use compassion.  Be patient.  Things will happen when you start putting in the work.

When acting, there is a difference between being the character in the moment and “being the character.”  You are yourself, not somebody else.  Learn the difference, and appreciate the distance between yourself and fiction.  Leave the character in the theatre; take yourself home.

Oh, and just to remind you: Yes, you are good enough.  So stop freaking out thinking that you’re not.

No one has all the answers, so don’t expect them to, and don’t get angry when you find out they don’t.  Having said that, be a doormat for no one.  If you ask someone a question they can’t answer, they should honestly admit what they don’t know.  They have no right to make you feel small for making them concede some shortcoming.  Recognize this as simple insecurity and move on. (As a rule, anyone who can’t admit what they don’t know or when they are wrong are people to let go of.)

Be kind whenever possible, even to the people you would fucking destroy.

Other Things: Travel.  Keep your sense of curiosity, but don’t get distracted by gossip.  Live a good clean life: clean in what you put into your body and mind, and clean in what you put out energetically.  Do not be ashamed, and do not do the things that will cause you to feel shame.

Never arrive on time for a party (unless it is a surprise) and never stay till the very end.  Don’t throw a dinner party for 12 people without enough chairs or help in the kitchen (disastrous).

Watch as much Star Trek as you like.

Trust more.

Find the right shade of red lipstick (Revlon Matte, Really Red 006–Lancome Rogue Magnetic in Breathless will, sadly, be discontinued).  Always do your nails.  Learn to blow dry your hair.  Know that outer beauty is very attainable: it just takes time and money.  Because it’s easy, don’t invest too much into it.  It will only pay you back so far and for so long.  That being said: Moisturize.  Everywhere.  Everyday.

Get up early.  Read a short piece of philosophy and a selection of Shakespearean text every morning aloud over tea.  This will be awesome, trust me.

I am coming to a close, but before I go, I want to be sure to tell you this.  It is hard, but you’re just starting to grasp at it.  So here you go.  Are you ready?  Okay.

Theatre will not fulfill you.

Acting will not fulfill you.

Writing will not fulfill you.

Art is something you create, something you do.  It is an extension of yourself and your experience.  But that’s just it–it’s an extension.  It’s a part of you, not all of you.  It’s a method by which we engage in the universal tradition of storytelling, perhaps our one chance at immortality–to do something that will be seen by someone else, who will carry it with them for a while, and maybe pass it on to others.  But for that part of you to be seemingly significant enough to be carried on in such a way, there has to be a you to begin with.  That’s why you are so sad right now: you are struggling with trying to make a piece of art worth while, and you are afraid because you can’t that you are worthless.  You are laboring under the misapprehension that this is all you have.  This is not all you have.  You are more well-rounded than you recognize and are allowing yourself to be.  You are a whole fucking person.  It’s true!  If you appreciated that, you wouldn’t be in the situation you are in, and thoroughly miserable.  FACT.

Don’t live and die by the theatre.  It is too inconstant, too strange, too compromising at times.  Recognize all the aspects of your identity–daughter, lover, friend, woman, drinker of whiskey, classic film enthusiast–and embrace them.  They will be the things that support you when you are not practicing your craft.  And they will make your work all the more richer when you are.  You cannot create without a source to draw from.  Get a source and maintain it.  Know you are already perfect.  Create balance in your life, and start by making balance within.  If you can do that, you can do anything.

Finally and lastly, read the newspaper. Write plays.  Say “Fuck All” to fear.  And in five years, remind yourself to keep doing all of these things.

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