When I was a little girl, I used to want to be a nurse, a teacher, a mother, and a couple other things I can’t remember now. My mom told me that I could be any one of those, but I said I wanted to be all of them. That’s when she told me that acting is a place where I could be all of those things and more. I was hooked. From that point on, I wanted to be an actress.
In my 20s, I realized that part of the reason I wanted to act was so that I could be anyone, and anywhere OTHER than who and where I was. But over the last few years, I’ve realized another reason is because I have this innate desire to experience everything. While I consider myself to be very empathetic, hearing someone’s story about their experience (good or bad) is just not the same as living through said experience yourself.
And when I say “everything,” I truly mean EVERYTHING. There’s a part of me that’s curious to know what it FEELS like to be shot, or to run a marathon, or give birth. Now, I likely won’t do any of those things, because all of them sound VERY painful to my logical brain (as well as for various other reasons), but the curiosity is still there.
The problem with wanting to experience so many things is that, when you actually HAVE had tons of experiences, it’s hard to know what to tell people about yourself, and when to share this information. I mean, some things come up naturally in conversation, but I’ve known people for years that are shocked when then learn some aspect of my life 2, 5, or even 10 years into the relationship.
And it’s not like I’m going to introduce myself to someone by saying “Hi, I’m Alyx. I’ve been sexually abused by my father, my mother was an alcoholic, I’ve worked at Disney World (as well as at least 20 other companies), been in a cult, know all the words to at least 1,000 songs, have been bungee jumping, flown in a bi-plane, traveled to more than 10 countries and speak enough of 5 different languages to get by in said countries.” Not only would that be just the tip of the iceberg that is my life, it would be very weird and a little off-putting to the other person. For one, that’s a HUGE information dump to get in a 5-minute introduction. For another, if you were to hear about all of those experiences from one person, you might not believe them. Some of it might sound like bragging, while other things might be so “out there” to you, that you couldn’t imagine anyone actually doing them.
That’s why it takes so long to really get to know someone. By the time you meet them, they’ve likely had at least 20 years’ worth of experiences to share, as have you. But that’s one of the reasons I’d rather hang out with someone in a one on one setting, so I can take the time to get to know them. Hear what makes them happy, sad, excited. That’s something you can’t do in a crowded bar, or party.
It’s also hard to know what experience to bring up when I’m meeting a new group of people (in a class, or large auditorium-filled seminar) and have been instructed to share just one thing about myself to the group. Such an open-ended question will have me searching for quite a while through my memory’s data bank in order to come up with the “appropriate” choice.
Still, I wouldn’t trade all of my experiences for anything. I’d much rather have the experience than have other people know about it.
But, if you do meet someone, and s/he tells you that s/he’s had a bunch of experiences . . . give him/her the benefit of the doubt, would ya? ;o)