Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Stranger Conundrum

I like talking to strangers, there is something refreshing about having no history with someone and just having a conversation that exists in the moment. There are no expectations of this conversation. I have found it can be as meaningful and rewarding as a deep exchange with an old friend. After all, we all started that way- as strangers, before we became close to one another, there was something that attracted us initially. So, I see in every exchange a deep possibility. A stranger is not being kind to me because she knows me or seeks to spare my feelings from the truth.
Sometimes I think it is in the remove when we can find the most proof. It is when we ask and seek outside objective opinions, sometimes we find what we are looking for.
Even if we never see one another again, I have found connection often in this stranger. It's interesting where we get our validation. Our friends sometimes tell us the truth and sometimes seek to spare us with little white lies. I myself don't like to hurt the feelings of people I care about and try to put a positive spin on a criticism.
Every morning, I come downstairs, heat up some water to make hot tea and turn on the computer to check my mail.
This morning I found an email in my box from a film festival. It was either a rejection or an acceptance. I took a deep breath and felt the blood rush to my face. I have had several rejections lately. And none of them has been easy. I haven't said anything about them to anyone, in fact I kept them to myself and just moved on.
When my father found out I was starting to send out my stories to publishers, he decided to tell me that I was going to be rejected a lot. I hated him for that. I suppose he meant well in his own way but his negativity has always been a killer for me. It's hard enough to live with his temper but his lack of positive outlook has always pissed me off. Your parents are supposed to believe in you. Dammit. Preparing someone reasonably for the possibility of rejection is entirely different than telling them that they will be rejected a lot and giving only the negative part.
What he should have said was what I now say to myself.
One person's opinion about me does not make this film good or bad, it continues to be one person's opinion of me, and the really important belief is the belief I have in myself and what ever the decision here, I will continue to know I was meant to do this, that my talent will not always be appreciated and my work does not always fit every festival and every vision. Rejection does not invalidate me as an artist or a person.
So before I opened that email, I took a deep breath and said this speech to myself. That I would move on and continue no matter what that email said.
My dad forgot to tell me how amazing it is to be accepted, published, validated as a writer/director/actor. He focused so much on the pain, he forgot the prize. That sometimes you win. He also underestimated my steely determination and burning ambition. I am driven to do this.
I got a win today. Someone I don't even know liked what I did. Believed in me. In Canada, no less. I needed this today, to come out of the clouds and into the light. I have wonderful friends and their support means everything to me but sometimes I need a stranger to like independently what I do, so I can make sure it isn't just my friends being kind to me.
I'm going to Toronto in March. The Female Eye Festival, celebrating female directors. It will be really inspirational. I went two years ago and I loved it. Now I just have to figure out if I'm driving or flying!

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