Wednesday, July 16, 2014

No One Here Is Amused By My Antics

I was on the phone with a friend a month or so ago, shortly after I'd given notice at work, discussing things that I needed to talk to my bosses about before I left.  He suggested I take the opportunity to "go rogue".  And we laughed, because... like... what are they going to do? Fire me?

"Amanda's dangerous when you let her off the leash," I joked.

After we hung up, though, something about the conversation stuck with me.

Off the leash.


Let loose.

Me, unregulated...

Amanda Without Borders.

I had a t-shirt made back in February that came to me one weekday morning as I was battling nausea and stress, preparing to rise and ready myself for work.  The result of the shirt can be seen at the top of this post.

"No one here is amused by my antics."

It was when I made that shirt that I began to think that I might have to leave.  And more and more, I began to see that, in spite of the dangers and fears, leaving was absolutely positively the right thing to do. Not just leaving this particular job, at this particular company.  But any job like it, at any company.  Because, regardless of how sweet one's corporate boss is (and I've had some truly great ones), no matter how understanding or tolerant, the truth is -- no one here is amused by my antics.  They're busy trying to get their work done.

My antics are who I am, though.  Antics are, in effect, my business. My weird way of looking at the world doesn't fit with most people's.  I'm out of step in a corporate environment, because, honestly, no one gets me.  When the world is looking at you with that RCA Victor dog look - head tipped to one side, trying to figure out what manner of beast you are - it's a little defeating and demoralizing.

"Normal" people.... people who live in a world that isn't punctuated by make-believe, by character development, by plot twists, separated into three acts and starting with literary exposition.... generally assume that I am "being funny" or "being dramatic".  As if it's a lifestyle choice.  What I'm "being" is actually just... me.  The real me.

I've come to realize that being creative is like being gay.  It's not something you choose.  It's just something you are, something that's innate and essential to the core of your identity.

Lady Gaga said it best: You're born that way.

When my daughter was quite young - maybe 10 or so - she asked me what I'd do if she ever came to me and said she was a lesbian.   I had already thought about this, since there's at least a 10% chance with every child that they will be gay, and you'd better figure out how you're going to handle it if they are.  I answered honestly -- that I would tell her I loved her, that I supported anything she chose to do, that I would help her anyway I could. Except one.

I told her I would never support a decision to live as a closeted homosexual.  I came from an era where all homosexuality was hidden in dark places, as if it was something shameful and ugly.  I've seen what it does to people. Coming out is hard on everybody.  But living a lie about something so profoundly a part of one's nature as whom one loves is a travesty and soul-killer.  I told her that I would never support her in self-shaming behavior.

I look back on that conversation and think, I was living as closeted creative.  I was a self-shamer. Every art I ever had - acting, singing, writing -- I have put on the back burner in favor of a steady paycheck.  I have almost certainly missed the acting/singing train (many people have told me so, in no uncertain terms).  That was a choice I made that I didn't realize I was making at the time.  I behaved as if I wasn't entitled to my art.  It wasn't a big money-earner, and my only important job was to earn money.

Now, I have another choice.  To live as a creative - with all the risks and discomforts that entails -- or live in the closet, as if somehow, my art is something shameful and dark and in need of hiding.

If I don't have the guts to take this risk now, to come out of the creative closet, wending my way past the colored pipe cleaners and Popsicle sticks, over the bottles of Elmer's glue and tubes of glitter, and into the bright, unflattering light of day, then I deserve to die alone and miserable.  And I don't deserve that.  No one does.

Amanda without Borders.  Amanda, Unchained.  Off the leash. Out of the shadows.

Now... let's go find us a plot twist and have some real fun, shall we?

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