Thursday, November 10, 2011
I got a stress fracture my junior and senior year of high school. I was a cross country runner where I was an okay runner on amazing teams. I had started on the team my freshman year to get in shape for basketball season, which ultimately just got me in shape for sitting on the bench. I was ready if they ever needed someone to jog at a moderate pace for 20 minutes during a game, though. My coach, apparently, never saw the value in that. My freshman, sophomore, and junior year the cross country team won state. By my junior year I was getting closer as I was one of the better JV runners. Then, midway through the season I started having a sharp pain in my left shin that turned out to be more than a shin splint. I couldn’t go anymore. I went to the doctor and they told me I had a stress fracture. I was done for the season.
The next summer, I ran a lot. It was the summer before my senior year and I knew that it was my last chance. I wasn’t going to be the best guy on the team, but I was going to be one of the guys on varsity. I started out the season one spot away and I felt it was only a matter of time.
Then, I started feeling a pain in my left shin again, this time it was lower, but it didn’t hurt as much. Rather than run through it, I got it checked out before the first meet of the season, and once again, I had a stress fracture. I would be out about five weeks. All of that work seemed like it was for not.
Rather than stop, I decided that I could buckle down and work my way back. So, I would workout on my own once or twice a day doing low impact exercises. I would either ride a stationary bike in the basement, or I would go to the pool and run in the deep end using an aqua belt that kept me floating. I did it day in and day out, dedicating myself more than I had to anything at that point.
Finally, I was ready for my comeback. It was a home meet at Fairview Golf Course (which my grandparents managed, by the way). The course was three loops around the perimeter of the course. If my time in the JV race beat the last varsity runner for my team, I would make varsity. I was ready and pumped. I felt great. After the first loop, I was way out in front. Then, the second and third loops were still unfortunately required. I was gassed and quickly fell back to the pack. I don’t remember what I finished in the race, but it definitely wasn’t first. I stayed at about the same position the rest of the season. I never made varsity.
The biking and aqua jogging helped me, but they couldn’t quite match the daily “putting myself out there” on the road running. I needed the resistance and the pounding to get my muscles prepared. I could get myself close, but not quite there. I’m happy now for the experience because it was one of those hardworking formative experiences, but at the time, I was frustrated.
What I’ve realized now in going for my dreams in Hollywood is that just like quads, calfs, and hamstrings, “putting yourself out there” is a muscle that needs to be exercised as well. In a macro sense, I’m putting myself out there for the entirety of this experience just by living out here and doing all of this. At the same time, I go through periods where I’m putting myself out there, and I go through periods where I don’t for awhile.
What I find is that when I am consistently putting myself out there, I feel really comfortable putting myself out there for the next challenge. When I have gotten myself out of putting myself out there shape, the next challenge proves to feel really difficult.
When I am consistently putting myself out there, the challenge feels like I’m running. I can feel the air, and hear myself breathing, and feel confident in my ability to move through the space. When I’m not consistently putting myself out there and I confront the same challenge, I feel the pounding, and feel the uphills, and feel the plodding. Lately, I haven’t been putting myself out there, mostly because I’ve had to work and not make it to many auditions, so right now the idea of the next audition feels like an uphill. A few weeks ago felt different, when I read slam poetry, because it scared me a lot, and afterwards I was ready for the next thing. Recently, I performed at the Comedy Store, which used to be putting myself out there, but now felt very normal. Periodically, I just need reminders that I can conquer things that scare me, or I start to believe the fear.
I think this is true outside of Hollywood. In my old life, I was putting on new shows, and doing new things all the time, but they no longer felt like putting myself out there. I was getting settled and scared, which, in part, prompted me to do this. I needed to shake that feeling. Then, rather than go bungee jumping, or something, I blew my life up a little. Out of shape I arrived and started getting into putting myself out there shape really quickly, just like my old two-a-day cross country days.
Going forward, in whatever comes of all of this, I’ve realized that I need to exercise that putting myself out there muscle. I wonder if the confining stuckness people often feel in life isn’t so much a matter of circumstances, as it is an atrophy of the putting yourself out there muscle. I think the solution is to do something that scares you. Do something where, in the moments before it is your turn in this thing, you want to be anywhere other than where you are, where you berate yourself for ever agreeing to do this thing. Then, do it. Realize it’s not so bad and that you want to do it again. Do it again, and you’re exercising and getting into shape, and the confining stuckness feels like a feeling of the past.