Acting as an Audience

Mar 31, 2010

Society has imposed an artificial idea of what makes us happy. People who do things for surface value – for what they deem as acceptance, to “seem cool” – share the same motivation as everyone else: to feel heard, loved. But the real love we want is different than what we’ve been lead to believe we want. And because it’s so hard to get that real love, we’ve found it easier to go along with society and stop being real and honest with ourselves and each other.

As children, how we learn about love and how we get it shapes our relationship with it for the rest of our lives. Really, until you go to school, your family is the only group of people able to love you and teach you about it. Then when you go to school – hopefully already in a healthy relationship with love – you learn about a different kind of love called friendship. Developing a healthy relationship with this kind of love does wonders for your personal growth and your ability to adapt as you get older.

I, unfortunately, probably did not have a very healthy relationship with love upon entering school. As a product of two parents with incredibly opposing approaches to life yet both equally filled with a lot of love to glean and share, I entered my peer society already unable to connect with anyone who didn’t automatically give me the substantial amount of love I required to feel okay.

For me, it wasn’t just that “kids made fun of me,” because many of us have that growing up and it clearly can’t be that big a deal. It was more the fact that it was so opposite to what my first formative years had been that it hit me especially hard. If a “normal” amount of love wasn’t enough for me, then clearly no love at all was all the more hurtful.

It can be very difficult to enjoy life when you feel you have a lot to say and no way to say it. So as I internalized the effects of the social scene, feeling ever so lonely and unloved, I poured the entirety of my energy into striving to feel heard and forgot to revel in my own uniqueness and enjoy the other parts of life, carefree.

Our experience with love shapes the role we play as adults. If we didn’t feel heard in our youth, we tend to assume the role of the actor – constantly striving for the future, wanting desperately to do something, make something, say something. And if, by some chance, we learned a healthy relationship with love, we are far more likely to be the audience, taking life as it comes and enjoying the day-to-day beauty.

The majority of people seem to fall somewhere between these two extremes, ideally in a good balance between feeling motivated enough to take action when necessary and feeling content enough to relax. It’s no surprise then that people who fall more towards the audience side tend to be happier than everyone else. Rather than feeling unsatisfied with life’s story, they enjoy the good things. Contrarily, I, like other actors, think I can’t relax until I feel life’s story is progressing “correctly” and thus am continually working to try to mold it.

I’ve never been a patient person. When things don’t feel right, I’m continually exceedingly frustrated. And things never feel 100% right, ever. And that’s because, even when everything seems like it should be perfect, feeling heard is only part of it.

The actor is inherently lonely. An audience, inherently not.
As an actor, your happiness is placed in the hands of others. You can do whatever you want to communicate yourself and feel heard but even if you’re successful, you’re still just a guy on a stage preaching to a group. That’s not really love; we just think it is.

You’re really loved for how you love. For me, feeling connected to people on fundamental, emotional levels means more to me than having a bunch of stuff in common. It means trust, openness, honesty. It allows us to be real. We can put ourselves out there and let others decide our merit or we can learn to be content in our own mindset and act as our own audience. If we can focus on this, then we can more easily see that although everyone¬†does things differently, sees things differently and has different interests, perceptions, values and morals, at the end of the day, all we really want is just to love and be loved.

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