How Acting Classes Let Me Out of My Shell

I went throughout high school "too busy" to take acting classes. The truth was, nobody ever saw me as able to take on a role. I always got cast in "little big" parts whenever I tried out in elementary school. I was notoriously shy, unable to even say a couple words in class.

I preferred to keep my head low and hardly mumbled through a few things. But, then college came along. I dyed my hair purple.

And I said a royal "screw it".

I signed up for an acting class and we did breathing exercises. Yup, that's right. On the floor. Yelling.

Okay then. I made a mistake.

But, we continued with the exercises. And the truth was, it felt good to be silly. To sing at the top of your lungs or "walk like a model". It felt good to be given permission to be a little kid again.

And when the actual role assignments came around, I went for it.

I remember strutting up to practice a part I didn't even know, smoking a fake cigarette and grinding it out dramatically beneath my heel like it was "Devil Wears Prada" and I had all the flair of a fashion mogul.

Sometime during all that beginning acting silliness, I stopped playing a role. I started "performing" all the time. 

When I needed confidence, I jumped up like I was center stage and the spotlight was on me. I grew comfortable with people looking in my direction. I stopped crying over every whisper or judgmental glance. I started to enjoy not caring, with taking my time slipping into another person's shoes and being a character.

I'm not saying acting was the sole factor to help me "come out of my shell". I also found amazing friends who were closer to being like blood relatives to me, and I discovered that I didn't have to be the quiet kid anymore. 

In summary, I discovered who I was by finding my voice, in more ways than one. Just because someone had once pointed at me and laughed, that didn't mean I had to be that bit part. I didn't need to be anybody's sidekick or keep my mouth shut when I had something burning to say. 

Lights up. Center stage.

This is who I am.

Live with it.