When I was in grade school, my very sweet and wonderful and supportive teachers used to write things in my yearbook like: “I can’t wait to see you onstage at the Oscars someday!”
Which is a very kind thing to write in a theatre dork’s yearbook.
But I also kind of bought it, gang. I’ve spent most of my life expecting to one day be SUCCESSFUL. TO BE FAMOUS. For my old teachers to be watching the Oscars at home, and recognize me accepting an award. More than expecting it, though, I’ve internalized that this was the only version of reality that looked like success. That looked like good enough.
I did not pursue becoming a movie star, but I’ve still always clung to the notion that on some magical day, I would get my shit together and create something that was a really big deal and that I’d be sitting on Seth Meyers’ couch, laughing and telling him all about it. Because, as an artist and as a performer, if I didn’t become famous, haven’t I just wasted the time and resources of all the people in my life– the teachers, the coaches, MY PARENTS– who have supported me down this path?
I’m supposed to be a big deal, right? That’s the payoff for all the hard work and time and energy that people have invested in me. Even though I’m the kind of person who currently takes depression naps after breakfast and is too afraid to pursue film in any capacity, I’ve still felt like I’m supposed to at least be nominated for an Oscar one day. Because otherwise this was all a waste of time. Because otherwise I’m a failure.
I recognize that this is all very bonkers, but it’s still how I feel. I’ve written a lot about how I don’t know what it would ever feel like to believe that I’ve “made it,” and that I can rest and be comfortable where I am. Because “good enough” still feels like a trap, even if it’s just one of my own design. Most people don’t win Oscars, and it’s okay if I’m most people.
BUT I”M SO BAD AT BEING OKAY.
I’ve always been a big believer in purpose, in something like “destiny.” It’s always felt like there has to be something that I’m supposed to be doing, because otherwise why I am here? I’m so desperate to understand why I’m here. It can’t just be to take depression naps after breakfast, right? I feel so lost right now. I feel like I have to make a change. And those changes have to put me back on a path that leads somewhere like success and fame and recognition. That’s who I’m supposed to be.
“Everyone fails at who they’re supposed to be, Thor.”
Well, damn, Frigga.
I saw Avengers: Endgame for the second time today, and I continue to be especially moved by Thor’s storyline. Back in 2011, Thor and I were both very sure of our paths and our destinies: his to become the King of Asgard, and mine to graduate college and become an actor.
Thor’s story in Endgame is all about dealing with perceived failure; Thor holds himself solely responsible for Thanos’ triumph. All the things Thor felt he was supposed to be: a hero, the strongest Avenger, a leader, “WORTHY.” All of that disappeared with the snap. When we meet up with Thor in New Asgard, he can’t even say or hear Thanos’ name out loud.
I get it, Odinson. I’ve known names that I couldn’t say or hear out loud.
“The measure of a person, of a hero, is how well they succeed at being who they are.”
Thor doesn’t solve the grand question of who he is in Endgame, but he does at least start to leave behind pieces of who he’s “SUPPOSED” to be. It’s going to be hard for him. Sure, we see him leave leadership of New Asgard in Valkyrie’s very capable hands, but a moment later, he’s challenging Quill’s position of authority over the “Asgardians of the Galaxy” PLEASE BE THE PLOT OF GUARDIANS 3 WELCOME HOME JAMES GUNN.
I also spend a lot of time feeling anguish over perceived failure. I’ve generally considered myself a failure since I was in college, and it’s a really tough perception to undo. The hardest thing about feeling like a failure is the trap that I set for myself in being completely unable to move forward. If I’m inherently a failure, then what’s the point in trying anything new? Even more than that, though, is the feeling that I would be an extra big failure if I left behind who I’m supposed to be, even if that path doesn’t make me happy anymore.
Because theatre doesn’t necessarily make me feel all sparkly on the inside lately. I’ve been thinking a lot about what else I could do, or where else I could go. And I’m going to try to remember Frigga’s wisdom along the way. I feel very disconnected from myself and who I am lately, and I think it’s because I’ve felt so deeply beholden to who I’m supposed to be.
The next time we meet up with Thor in the MCU (GUARDIANS 3, PLEASE?), I hope we get to spend some more time with soft, sad Thor who’s re-discovering who he is. It’s so hard to know what’s really you versus what is the Depression or Whatever. Like, is Thor genuinely super into video games now, or was that to take his mind off of his pain? Do I really not like theatre anymore, or is it just too closely associated with the ways in which I believed I’ve already failed? I sincerely don’t know.
For now, like I said, I’m going to try to take Frigga’s words to heart. I’ve got a fresh new decade ahead of me, and I want to feel free to do things because I want to and not because I believe I have to. I am soft and sad, and maybe I’m not supposed to be anything different right now if I don’t want to be.
Because Thor is still worthy, so maybe I am too.