Everything has led up to this moment. All the work put into these last few months—these last few years— is finally coming full circle. Here’s the outcome. Right in front of me. I should feel accomplished. My dreams have come true and I’m in the midst of the proof.
Yet all I see are blinding lights weighing me down with expectations. Ear splitting applause I know I deserve but can’t seem to stomach.
What is happening? This is what I wanted isn’t it? This has been my dream for as long as I can remember. When I look in the mirror I can still see a shadow of the boy in the living room playing make believe for his parents, putting on his best show.
Is it possible that my dreams have been lost to reality? Maybe a dream is just that; a figment of a child’s imagination of a superior world— a life that’s better than the one they’re in.
I’m still that same little boy, he just got lost behind a man.
A man who’s been stuck in a role. Where the male lead rushes blindly into any door that opens if only for the security of it. Pretending that’s where he wants to be.
When did this dream turn into a nightmare?
When did I turn into another character to portray? A character I wrote and now have no one to blame but myself for how his story turned out.
Perhaps I can change the way his story goes. Except, that’s not where I went astray. But rather when I lost who I am in a character.
There’s a man behind this facade. If I’ve ever met him it's been too long to remember what he's like. It's time to shed this costume and discover who I am beneath.
I take my bow soaking in applause that’s drowning me along with the weight of the lights pushing me farther down. With flushed cheeks and a wide grin to cover my true feelings when the light has a way of showing everything, I put on another show.
The applause turns into scattered claps as I turn to make my exit, leaving the stage behind me. Extravagant curtains close at my departure signaling the end to this performance. Once and for all shutting out the lights.
Changing out of my final costume, I make my leave.
“Where are you going? Aren't you coming to the cast after party?” Questions Sally.
The curtains have closed, the lights long faded. I’m no longer standing on the stage with rows of eyes watching my every move. The costume has been put away in a bin somewhere to collect dust. The role has been executed, my job done.
“No Sally, imma head out.”
“Okay see ya.” With that she turns strutting down the hall, her character's hair and makeup following along with her.
Flakes of snow hit my still warm cheeks, stealing any remaining evidence of the lights with it as soon as I step outside.
Turning my face up, I relish in the shiver that runs down my spine.
Walking the long way home, I pass billboards with my face plastered across it. Not really my face. Never really my face. The face of a man with a part to play for the advertisement and yet no one knows the face behind it is another act.
A lonesome newsstand sits on the corner with leftover papers from the day inside. Pulling one out I read the header:
Don’t Miss The Last Performance of Bold Fellows Staring Our Favorite Actor
They couldn’t be more right.
Rolling up the paper I place it under my arm and continue down the sidewalk.
Passing an electronics store window display, showcasing TVs with a Christmas sale, a commercial plays where an actor mows a lawn. As if he's simply another all American man with a 9-5 job. Not a fraud selling an image to an audience who will eat it all up neglecting the fact that it's an obvious lie.
Surrounding me are flashing reminders that I’ve spent so much time trying to be someone I’m not. Perfecting character after character to get the portrayal exactly right. Seeming to have misplaced myself amongst the resumes of people I have been.
Continuing my trek through the snowy streets I try to find the place where I went wrong. I've always loved creating characters. Making up stories of people's lives. What they loved. Their aspirations. What they long for. Each person is so unique and complex. All with their own sorrow and joy compacted into an assortment of memories that make them who they are. That’s what I love. What I have loved and continue to love. So why do I feel so empty?
Journals upon journals sit on shelves in my apartment spanning from age eight to present. Filled to the brim with stories. Containing countless characters I have cherished, mourned, cried for when the empathy of their agony becomes too much the bear. Inspired by people I have met or hope to one day have the pleasure of meeting. Has that desire to know them more intimately brought me here? Diving so deep into them that I’ve taken a part of them with me, giving them a part of myself in the process?
I have reached my dream. What I've longed for. Without a doubt, this is my dream; these characters I have created.
Yet they have destroyed me. Turned me into someone else. Have I gone too far into this dream land? Has becoming these characters that I’ve constructed misguided me? Not so much the crafting of them but trying to turn myself into them.
In the journey to reach my dream, is it possible that I have reached too far?
Somewhere along the way when I finally did obtain it, the selfish perfectionist inside me craved more. Except that wasn't my destiny. The true character of who I am was never meant to travel this far. This was never the way his story was supported to be written. Ambition was his cryptonit.
Now it's time not to move forward but backward.
God has called me to a path that I must stay on. If I venture too far off I may find myself at the cliffs edge, again.
I had met my dream a long time ago beside his friend greed.
This is the final costume change now I’m ready to be me.