The Burnout. Part 1.
April 30th / May 1st, 2018
It started a little while ago. About the beginning of 2018. I have had been in England for 3 and a half years, and have been acting for about the same amount of time. All was well, as it can be in the life of a human nowadays, with the inherent ups and downs, but suddenly it all collapsed. On all levels, everything seemed upside down, especially in some areas of my personal life and the acting career.
Now, everyone has issues in their personal life that might lead to an aggravated pressure on the outside things, and make them look more complicated or even quite impossible but somehow, because acting is such a sensitive, volatile job it seemed to me as it was just evaporating, and I was nowhere to be seen.
Before leaving all behind and coming here to be an actor, even if troubled by personal life issues, because my job in science was contract written “forever and ever”, clear and logical, it looked like no matter what, it will still go on, be there even if I, drained, almost feeling to stagnate, wouldn’t be. I would still be able to drag myself and sit in the chair, in front of the microscope, counting and identifying algae or plants, or reading chlorophyll content on a spectrophotometer. Because, no matter what, I did not have to be entirely there to do it. I just had to hang on, do it, not needing to be overly inspired. It was mechanical, simple to me as I knew everything by heart. It could just be an automatic response while personal issues got to heal, move on, disappear. My job was as secure as you can (or can’t?) imagine.
Now, in acting there is no certainty. Not even for the “wealthy and the trained”, the “privileged ones” as many picture “them”. I am not even going to bring up the rest of the actors, the “poor little ones” as they like to portray themselves. You might notice I did not say “us, the poor little ones” as I do not believe privilege gets you there. Yes, might help but the truth is, it’s up to the individual to maintain him or herself up there and make the best of it. And even if we all deserve that “one chance” privilege might bring for free and fast, what the f**k, life is not fair, and I am thankful there are no bombs falling from the sky. So, move on and do your best even if you might just bite the dust.
But my collapsed world had nothing to do truly with the outside one. My career started off quite fast and steady, with little things one after another, building little blocks raising my little staircase up somewhere. I was eager, positive, optimist, functioning full steam ahead, happily adding bit after bit to my experience.
After a while, I stopped doing the small things. I believe there is a time to stop with music videos, short films, unpaid gigs unless they are too brilliant to pass and would, for real, push my CV (just feature films of course). I did some free small stuff, comic pieces for a friend who took a chance on me when I had nothing to show for, and I loved it, but this is something I only save for one or two people, and not too much of it either.
I finally started to focus on my main desire: feature films.
Now, that is the turning point when all goes to hell because is bloody hard not to go insane while selecting through, and following the one prey. No more little wingless butterflies at hand, no more sleeping rabbits or three-legged mice. No, the big prey. Like a cheetah after an Impala antelope. But, there is one thing. I don’t run after the impaired or the old or the baby antelope. No, somehow, I like a big healthy one. It is like running after the one specimen that will make you give it all. No pack, no team, just one solitary creature fast running to almost exhaustion to get the meal. The scope, the whole point of the chase. The glorious moment of sinking your teeth into its neck and feeling the exhilarating taste of the work that is about to come, to chew on, to digest and turn it into your own self, to give you fuel for the next chase. Your own, personal chase. The possibility of the next glorious day when you’ll be alive and well and ready.
I am picky. Some say I am crazy. Some say an actor should just do everything that comes at hand. When I talk of “selectivity” they don’t get the term, they keep on telling me to get out of the comfort zone, because I might just like it; they don’t understand that I’ve worked in a place before where you like it or not, you must put up with it. No way around – the trap of the “forever contract”. You can’t choose, thus one ends unhappy because a job IS a part of your life, a person does not space out when going to work. And NO, don’t you tell me not to mix the personal with the professional. I don’t feel the need to have a split personality (sarcasm, I know what that is). I chose acting to braid it into my existence, to make me fulfilled, to LOVE a project till my heart bursts! Not to crawl, angry, frustrated, annoyed, trapped. So, I choose before I sign. And I only choose if I LOVE. To me, it doesn’t even matter it’s paid. If I don’t fall for the story and the people… but mainly the story, I just don’t. To be honest, as a biologist I know it is not the best recipe to survive. Just look at the Pandas. Only consume bamboo leaves and if no bamboo forests, or shrinking territory, they’re in trouble. But somehow, I don’t like being the bottom feeder, the one that eats everything. They are many and thriving. Please don’t get offended. Some will, reading this, it is just the way I am and if it works for you, great. I’d rather have a depressive episode.
End of part 1.
Have a lovely spring everyone!
© 2018 Carmen Silva