If you’ve never seen someone step into something that scares the shit out of them and then do the work to get better at it with clear-eyed effort, you’re missing out on a core joy of being human.
When I was a teacher, this happened not often but regularly enough that it was the main payoff of doing that work. As I moved into my software engineer career, it was quite rare but the occasional person just starting their career would bring this kind of energy to the team. As I grow long in the tooth in my career, it’s more and more rare to experience this kind of challenge or to see others do it.
This is one reason, among so many, that I’m absolutely thrilled to be back in school taking acting classes. Every single session, one or more of the students throws themselves into a monologue or a scene. They leave behind any self-censoring or worry about what they might look like. It’s the best energy to be around. It reminds me of how we can move through the world without guile and without fear.
Sure, I want to build some skills and tools around my acting. I’d love to do it on a more regular basis. But, if none that comes to pass, my gift is witnessing these young people take hold of that moment in a way that I did not at their age. I spent far too much of my young adulthood afraid of what others might say or think. Or, I was lost in a land of privileged indulgence.
The days I spend with these classmates bring me joy I haven’t had in a decade or more.