Conventional Games

I stood by the dusty school window sharpening a new box of pencils as my cooperating teacher went into another classroom to gather more supplies. I focused my attention on the raindrops sliding down the windowpane, trying to breathe steadily as to avoid teardrops sliding down my cheeks. As I shoved each new pencil into the sharpener I could feel the sadness and anxiety bubbling up inside me. The sky could cry openly and honestly, yet I had to keep my professional composure even with an inner storm brewing. I became so jealous of the sky. I wanted so desperately to cry out ‘I don’t want to do this!’ and run right out of that school. My lifeless expression masked an internal panic attack. I felt like I was in prison as I looked through that dusty window. My mind was racing, scanning each page of my life to see what I had done to get myself in this position of such anguish and despair. Questions began crowding the outermost limits of my brain seeming to reach my forehead. The relentless pounding caused a huge headache behind my eyes leaving my face hot. ‘What have I done? What have I done?’; a continuous loop played in the background of this twisted mental circus.. but I just kept robotically sharpening. The pressure was rising allowing the warm, salty water to reach the flood gates I was fiercely trying to keep closed. A few stray droplets escaped from the corners of my eyes and I quickly wiped them away as my cooperating teacher sauntered back into the room. I planned to say my cat died if she were to notice the evidence of my brief emotional breakdown.

What was I doing? I had gone to school for seven semesters knowing this day was going to come, so why was I experiencing such a huge shock to my system? It’s because I felt like a fake. All of the skills I learned performing on stage my whole life perfectly translated into a classroom setting, especially with art. I was putting on a show, a great show nonetheless, but only an act. My ability to improvise through class presentations, interviews, and in front of a classroom of kids was so amazing it scared me. My theatrical foundation allowed me to be thrown into the spotlight without a twinge of nerves and seemed to be the best way to prepare for these dreadful real world interviews. My expressiveness and bubbly personality, my thoughtful responses, my composure and style… I was playing a part. And I played it very well.

Role: College grad looking to teach elementary art in a public school. Sweet natured, funny, smart, passionate. Must be no taller than 5’2”, brown hair, brown eyes. Conservatively dressed.

Audition Location: Public School

Audition Time: TBD

All the emails I received just seemed to look like this, like the part was written just for me. So I studied the script. My answers were calculated and well rehearsed. While I was thriving in these interviews and feeling a stronger sense of the security I was molded to hope for, it was never more than a placeholder for something much deeper I had been ignoring. I tightly clung to these conventional ties even as Scott and I planned our move to New York. I applied for every school I could even though my main goal was to become a musician. It didn’t make sense. This was my chance to live the indie musician life I fantasied about, yet my decisions were still based off my traditional, old fashioned compass. My heart and mind had completely separate agendas, although my rational driven brain always had the upper hand. A future war between the two was inevitable.

Eventually, after continuously making safe, responsible career choices, I realized I could not become this perfect teacher trophy I was suppose to be, even though that life came easier to me. I could not let myself be sheltered by this safety blanket fabricated by these lies I was telling myself. However, one comforting thing did come from this realization: knowing I could live the life of a school teacher made it much easier for me to leave it behind. For now. I can’t speak to how I’ll feel in the future, but handing my boss a letter of resignation felt so incredible. It was like I had the power to remove the shackles that I put on myself in the first place. I was detaching myself from the idea of who I was suppose to be and finally allowing myself to discover who I actually was. I didn’t really know yet… But once the puzzle of myself was taken a part, I could look at all the individual pieces and put it back together the way I wanted it to be. There may not be a straight edge and there may be pieces missing or bent, but I wasn’t striving for perfection anymore. I desperately desired something raw and true. My finished puzzle would be beautiful in its imperfections.

You never seemed to mind when I would fake my own design, you found it quite amusing

I could play just about any part I memorized the lines by heart by my own choosing

Stashed away my negative impressions under animate expressions, exhausting all my dials

And of course I’d land the job the next day, go through the motions, get paid all with plastic smiles

………………………………………………………………….

And it took some time to get myself aligned

‘Cuz I never ever felt this before

………………………………………………………………….

I drew my own conclusions based of fictional illusions time and time again

Just keeping myself in a bubble, too scared to turn my eyes to trouble..trouble

So you’d offer up solutions trying to quiet the noise pollution in my head

But I’m way too tired to hear it, let me finish up my beer and put myself to bed

………………………………………………………………….

And tonight I’ll dream of something in between

‘Cuz I never ever felt this before

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