I was talking to my mother on Skype one day and one of the things she said really stuck with me. In many different words and complicated sentences I was trying to convey a few simple truths to her; one of which was that I’m afraid to start something (almost) from the beginning now that I’m 23 years old. Not a big deal you’d say, some people start anew in their 30s, 40s and 50s. But it is a big deal. It is a huge deal in our society, for our generation. By the time you graduate from University (or even earlier, secondary school or college for some) you basically have to have your career path more or less figured out. Of course, there is no official rule for this, but anything that swerves from this is not encouraged and is even frowned upon. BIIIIG frowns. And here I am, 23 years old, a BA from a respectable University, finally knowing what I want to do with all my heart. And guess what? It has nothing or very little to do with my University degree.
So, I want to be an actress. Not for any sort of fame or glamour or even money. None of those things, don’t even expect them to happen. I want to be an actress because my whole heart is burning with this desire to create, to perform, to tell stories, to become other people who might have actually lived or might just be a figment of somebody else’s imagination. Acting, theatre in particular, gives me such freedom and joy that I can finally accept and even love myself when I’m on stage, and feel like I’m a part of something meaningful and beautiful, even if it were for an audience of 10 people. Because guess what? Beauty and Art and culture transform our lives, make us feel so deeply that we finally can understand and forgive others and ourselves. They give us the power to see the immense beauty and glory of the Universe and of our own little and insignificant lives, loves, labours, friendships and faiths. But again, I digress.
The thing that my mother told me when I complained about feeling too old to start from the beginning, even if I feel that it can well be my true vocation, kind of blew me away. When my mum was at the University, she decided to take a gap year. Not a popular option even nowadays, probably less so in soviet-occupied conservative Lithuania. When she was talking to the Dean of the University, or someone else (I forget), she was asked to think about her decision – is she not going to regret losing a whole year of her life? What she replied sounded something like this: “I don’t really see what there is to lose or miss out on in this world”. And you know what? I can’t agree more. People make it seem like this life as many people choose to live it out is so amazing and unmissable, this work, career, money, starting a family, house, car, you name it. But for people like me who never felt quite at home in this world and society, this kind of argument sounds almost ridiculous. Really? I’m missing out? On what? On living a mediocre life doing mediocre things with people I admire for doing the same mediocre things bigger and better? Bigger salary, more respectable career, more handsome partner, bigger house. Is that really what this Universe with billions of stunningly beautiful stars, with rivers and mountain ranges, with fields of gold and sunsets that bring tears to your eyes is really about?
Another thing that this clever woman told me was that the problem with our generation is that we don’t let ourselves live, we keep asking for someone else’s permission to live. The future, the world that is in the making right now, can be decided by us youngsters. Yet instead of trying to make it the way we want it, we keep trying to conform to the paths dictated to us by past generations and society, by our families and media. Graduate from school and University, get a respectable and practical profession, rise in your career and get more money, marry someone respectable, have kids, get a house and a car, go on holidays once or twice a year, go to the gym, post nice Instagram pictures and.. that’s pretty much it. That’s life for you. No one ever questions it, and those who dream of changing it are seen by the society as “fools who dream” or one-in-a-million people, some sort of special species, who can allow themselves to have a life of freedom and adventure, the life they really want.
Lastly, I would love to end with this quote from Sylvia Plath: