The other day as I was getting ready to go to work, I hesitated whether to bring my camera bag. I lug a lot of bags to the theater: at a minimum a lunch bag, a backpack for my laptop and script, and a purse. Adding the camera bag means trudging in from the parking lot with enough luggage to pay airline fees.
I started to leave the camera at home, and then I heard the voice in my head:
“If you were a real photographer, you’d take the camera everywhere you go.”
So I took the camera. Just to prove to myself that I’m real. What’s up with that?
I remember a time when I used to sit in the dressing room, getting ready for a show, thinking I wasn’t up to the task but I’d just have to do my best until a real actor took over. You know, from New York. Where the real actors live.
It’s the same with singing, writing, teaching, you name it. I want to do something, I try it, I might even succeed at it, but in my mind I’m not the real thing.
So who decides? Who gets to say what’s real and what’s not? I write a blog, but am I a real writer? I’ve put enough time and energy and money into singing lessons to consider myself a singer, but not a real singer. (I do consider myself a real actor, after more than twenty years in the business, so that’s something.)
Enough is enough. I don’t know what external forces are at work here, but I’m ready to face up to the internal one. I don’t want to listen to the voice in my head any longer, not if it’s going to shame me into believing that my passions are hobbies, that the arts I pursue – acting, singing, writing, photography – are beyond me. That I will never be more than a talented dilettante.
It doesn’t matter whether I take the camera everywhere I go. When I pick up a camera, I’m a real photographer. When I sing, when I act, when I write, I’m really there, practicing my craft. Nobody is going to show up from New York and take over my artistic life. It’s mine.
I am real.