Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Shattered Dreams

My life changed drastically when I came to the University of Montana. I was suddenly in the place I knew my talents could flourish, but being the only artistically inclined kid living in isolation in a small town had not given me any skills for social interaction in the larger circle of others. I somehow ended up in a dorm floor that was mostly filled with athletes, which I really didn’t relate to much. The scholarship I had paid for the tuition and some of the books, but nothing else. I came from a poor family and my father let it be known early that if I was going to follow such a foolish path he was not going waste any money to help so I would have to do it on my own. I ended up finding work to support myself but most of those jobs meant I would have to work all night, go to class in the day, sleep when I could, so there wasn’t much spare time for socialization anyway. I was a bit too intimidated entering the Drama/Dance program. It was almost like everyone already had a defined personality or style and I seemed too ordinary. Though we were all there for the same reasons I didn’t really feel like I quite connected with anyone specifically. At this point I wasn’t quite sure of my sexual orientation, in fact mostly feared it. There seemed to be a lot of gay people in the program and hanging with them actually terrified the hell of me. With all this I become even more isolated.

The theater department was nothing like I thought it would be; there was no real glory, but become a lot of hard work. Constant hard work! I had to learn to use tools and build sets. I learned about electricity and lighting, I worked on making costumes. We were mostly the work force behind all the production. Since I was working evenings and or nights I really couldn’t get involved in productions. The acting classes I had seemed bizarre and so irregular with strange exercises that seemed completely unrelated. It seemed that we spent weeks connecting to invisible dots in the air and try to find our relationship to them. Stretching, movement, voice, a basic connection to others via “Hi, may name is…” exercises. Clearly I was beginning to buy what my father had told me that this would become a waste of my time. The final straw on the camel’s back was after doing an acting workshop scene when one of the teachers commented, “He has a pretty face, but no talent.” I was devastated and broken. The dream was shattered. I had just spent half a year and clearly did not belong in this universe. With my head hung, heaving a heavy sob, I gave up on school and withdrew from the program. I finished out the rest of the year with just general studies, barely squeaking by with the process. I remember how completely lost I was. Had no idea what I would do or what I should pursue with my life and I had felt like I had become an utter failure. I wasn’t doing all that well with general studies and ended up dropping out of school after that first year.

Looking back this experience was quite harmful to my self-image, esteem, and human dignity and became a huge obstacle I would eventually have to overcome. It fractures an already fragile relationship with my father and family and I had not developed any friends, and so slipped into a quite oblivion. Could it possibly get any worse? Yes, I was about to discover my sexuality!


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