A Treasure Map
I am behind. I've tried to ignore it, to let the jealousy remain down in the depths of my gut, boiling slowly, but it is no use. I have fallen behind my peers and my age is now a number that flashes red in front of my face, freezing me, reminding me I have thousands of miles of ground to cover and no idea how to begin.It's hard to avoid it as a female actor. It is difficult not to calculate the roles I can play as I age. No longer able to pass as a teenager, I am breezing past college age as well and into (gasp) MOMS. While I am still taking a pause on auditioning, I can feel the pressure rise even without being active. I know I need new headshots. I know I need new monologues, new branding, a different mindset to the game. Now I am panicking because it all seems like too much all over again. Am I letting the business seep back into my veins to poison me as it did before?I can not stop myself from thinking I am in the back of the line. I've stepped away and now I am 34 and I am basically about to be sent out to pasture because the game moved on without me. I can feel it dragging me down that my friends are more successful even though I try not to let it. It is impossible to not be envious when I see how hard they have worked, how much I haven't, and what beautiful lives they are living that I want to live. If I had stayed and worked those three years, would I be in a different place? I needed the break, I know I did. Though I am finding it unfeasible to not regret taking it being back in the fray among their glory.How can I be here at 34? How can I feel like I lost three years? How can I regain that lost time and still achieve the new goals I have set out for myself?I guess it's time to try this whole one day at a time thing. I take a moment. I look at my marriage. I look at my friends, my family. I look at a day spent in the park with blankets spread wide and wine in my plastic cup with no real agenda set before me. I look at how cool it is to say my husband is working at the museum that was my sanctuary when I first came here after college. I look at how many words I've put down on papers and computer screens. I look at my apartment, the skyline, my brain working overtime with so many ideas that it scares me I will lose them unless I get them out. I look at the possibilities before me and remember I am still alive and 34 is not so bad.Okay, it is a little bad. I still feel behind, lost, confused. I have a new opportunity, a second chance, I should be ready to step into the ring and I am terrified. I talk (and write) a big game but I am truly unsure about everything. One day at a time sounds like a nightmare to me because I want to plan everything and know exactly where I am going at all times. Don't you?I've decided to use a map. A treasure map. I put things that make me happy on the map. If something comes my way, I ask myself if it makes me happy. If it is a yes, it goes on the map and I create a path to get there when I can. For example, I write everyday. It makes me happy and takes me out of myself when I am in whatever world I am creating. That's on my map and I make a path to it each day. The more often I get there, the more treasure I collect. The treasure for writing is more words in my novel to complete the first draft I have promised myself I would by December 31st. See? I achieved a goal by being a pirate.Little by little, this one day at a time thing might work out. If I seek out treasure every day, I move forward, focusing on the parts of my life that bring me joy and keep me going. I try and avoid thinking about my age because it truly is a number. It gives me nightmares but it is just a number. I know I will panic every now and again when I think about all I want to do and achieve and how I feel I wasted time the past few years. I know my stomach drops out when I think of turning 35 and possibly not attaining any of the goals I have before me. Or perhaps when I get there next June, I will have secured every single one and my life is quite different.Every age seems to bring new fears. We have to let them in, it is part of being human. But then we figure out how to fight them and keep going. I have my own path and I don't really have a clue what exactly that is most days so for now, I'll keep hunting for treasure.