Here’s to the mess we didn’t make
We all remember the Oscar shocker, when La La Land was announced Best Picture by mistake and Moonlight was delayed in getting the praise it deserved. Golden statue or not, I still perceive La La Land to be the best, as it showed me, as a student, something I hadn’t seen in a long time – both in fiction and real life.
To be more specific, I recall the scene where our protagonist Mia, through her tears, tells Sebastian that she thinks, she may not be good enough. That even though she has dreams and hopes for her future, she has to come to terms with the reality of it all and that she may not have what it takes to achieve them. And that’s when it hit me. My own doubt. A doubt about oneself, which others must have too – especially here at CBS.
Because even though CBS is a place of dreams, with various dream courses, possibilities of a dream job, meeting the person of your dreams or just letting ourselves dream away during finals, I start to wonder what these dreams are made of.
Just like Mia, I too am an actor and I aim to play the role of student to perfection. This means that I would need to get the best grades, a prestigious student job with great networking possibilities, an overbooked social calendar and killer social media accounts. If I really want to be a front-runner in the awards season, I can add ‘saving the world’ volunteer work and a best friend relationship with my parents.
But as time has allowed me to go in depth with the role, the distinction between myself and student has become more and more blurry. It’s method acting on a new level, and it is as if the script has become my reality rather than a piece of fiction – and I am not alone. This is not a one-woman show, as I am surrounded by an excellent cast, who themselves aim to nail the role.
Even though CBS is a place of dreams, I start to wonder what these dreams are made of.Caroline Boas
So where does this leave us? Our performances are greatly acclaimed and admired by the public and our friends and family. We are declared to be the most ambitious generation of performers and we thrive on the applause we get from the audience – always craving the next praise and compliment. But as the curtain falls and the performance ends, if only for a while, the doubt appears.
Every day is like a casting call, where I feel like I need to perform in accordance to what others expect of me, so that I remain to be ‘the perfect student’. The pressure is enormous and the competition is immense, as I sit in the waiting room like Mia, with people in similar clothes and with similar CVs, expecting to get the chance of a lifetime. We want to succeed and therefore we keep pushing the requirements for the role, in the hopes that we get it.
I need to keep up because if I don’t follow the script, my reviews will be bad and I become a box office failure. I therefore make sure I know every line and follow every instruction from the director. But then comes the doubt. Is this truly what I want? Is this what I originally set out for? Is this really the role of my dreams or just a copy and repeat? If that is the case, then where did all the creativity go?
Being ‘the perfect student’ is not as much an achievement anymore, as it is a given, and this concerns me. In our quest for success, it seems as though I and everyone around me are scared to go off script and improvise. Scared to develop the role on our own terms and afraid of an empty audience. But then again, why should we? With a promising script in hand, all we have to do is memorize the lines and enter the stage. Applause, degree, a bow and a full-time job later, the dream came true – or so we think. Because do we come out on the other side with innovative stories and creative minds, or as replicated roles ready for the next remake?
We need to permit ourselves to actually feel scared about our performance and ask whether or not we can make it.Caroline Boas
Our lives have become a foreseeable plot of fiction, where the authenticity is lacking and the performances are being standardized. We dare not doubt the doubt and we dare not dream the dreams. The ones where the impossible is possible and where rationality is absent.
Where is the vulnerability in our dreams? Where is the freedom to dream irrationally? La La Land reminded me of the doubt and the possibilities, and about the risk we need to take in order to create something great. Mia exemplified how we need to permit ourselves to actually feel scared about our performance and ask whether or not we can make it. We need to embrace insecurities and discover what lies beyond the written material. We simply need to bring our real dreams back, regardless of their content.
So, here’s to the fools who dream.
Crazy as they may seem, I think it may be better for everyone – myself included – to join in, break character and surrender to our abstract thoughts and ideas. Let’s not be afraid to make a mess and let’s get the courage to take more chances. We might miss out on a standing ovation or be left with empty seats, but the gain may also be far more spectacular and ultimately help us become ‘the perfect student’.