Oct 24
My Dream Deferred Posted by Leah

Week 7: up 3.2 pounds (-8.4 pounds total)

“What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?”

Harlem by Langston Hughes

Hey kids. Yes, you’re at the right place. Yes, I did indeed start today’s Weekly Speak with a lil’ bit of poetry. And yes, it does have EVERYTHING to do with what I have to discuss today.

I don’t know if I have ever told you kids about Her Hotness’ Great Big Life Dream. No, it isn’t becoming Mrs. Derek Jeter. (Not only am I far too old for that role - I am the exact same age as him, gasp! - but I am also far too…not a bikini model.) From the moment that I realized at the tender age of nine that, despite my best efforts, I would never be an Olympic gymnast I have instead focused on one singular professional pursuit - to be an actress. I began my acting studies in middle school at the local community theater. I spent high school summers at drama camp, blissfully geeking out to Broadway musicals and the company of extraordinarily talented comrades. In college I was all in, doing any and every bit of theater that I could get my greedy stage-hog arse cast in. I fell madly and deeply in love with ALL of it, studying Shakespeare at Oxford University, traveling with my college theater department to see the Humana Festival of New American Plays at the Actors Theatre of Louisville, and discovering the glory and wonder that is improvisational comedy. After graduation I continued to do comedy improv and even got to the point where I was teaching and performing improv professionally in New York City. All the signs seemed to indicate that I was on the right path. Despite the somewhat elusive and unpredictable nature of the business I was poised for a good strong go of it. I threw down the gauntlet and moved to Los Angeles, ready to become the town’s next big star. And that is when it all went to pot.

Life happened. Being broke happened. Office jobs with fun people doing fun things at night and on the weekends happened. And I joined their party. I moved around a lot, with each move taking me further and further, both literally and figuratively, away from the dream. I took a lot of crap jobs because I wanted to have less responsibility and more time to pursue acting. But the pursuit never came. I quit a lot of crap jobs because they were “killing my soul”, my precious little soul that needed freedom to pursue the dream. But the pursuit STILL never came. WHY?!?! Why was I deferring my OWN dream?!?!

With all due respect to the amazing words of Mr. Hughes, whose poem is a searing condemnation of a society where entire communities are stripped of their dreams by mere fact of their race, with all due respect to the amazing Lorraine Hansberry, who drew inspiration from Mr. Hughes’ amazing imagery to create one of the most important (and one of my favorite) pieces of modern American theater. With ALL due respect to this amazing duo, for I mean in no way to lessen the impact of their message by humbly borrowing it for a minute to help illustrate my point, which is thus - I know what happens to a dream deferred - it DOES explode! It explodes again and again, a thousand tiny sharp pains to remind you that you are not living the life you wanted and, what is worse, you never really tried.

For the better part of a decade, this has been my constant struggle, Easy enough to fix, right? Just go out there and do it. Get up, get over it and put yourself out there. For the better part of a decade, I have told myself these very words. Over and over and over again. And every time a crippling fear would settle into every crevice of my body, so my mind would try to simply think of something else.

For the better part of a decade, I have been engaged in a full tilt battle of wills…with myself. And it has been exhausting!

Recently, it seems a victor of this battle may have emerged. With the Professor’s encouragement and support (and patience!!) I have quietly made some pretty serious changes. This summer I began the process of looking for representation. Less than a month ago I signed with an agency!! They have already sent me on three auditions and each has been fun and interesting and I walk away each time feeling like I learned something. I plan on taking some acting classes very soon, and I am thrilled at the idea of being a student again. Many of my friends and former classmates are doing some incredible work right now and I ache to be right there with them. But I must remind myself that they have been at this for a while, pounding the pavement and putting in the time training and growing. I am ready to do that part, too!

It isn’t always easy. This week in particular has been a really emotional, difficult one. It is hard to be forty and starting over. It is really effing hard! My confidence is weak from years of neglect, but it’ll get there. The crippling fear is still present, but all of my forward motion has basically rendered it mute.

So kids…this is me. This is me and my dream (no longer deferred). You will forgive me, but this week there is no Hot Manspiration. Instead, this week is only inspiration. You ALL inspire me! I see your hard work and ambition and passion for life and I am inspired. I see your successes and your failures and your perseverance through it all and I am inspired. I see your kindness and your open hearts and I am honored to know you all. Thank you for reading. Thank you for caring. Let’s do this!!

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