what a difference a year makes…
2011: in review
around this time last year, i was beginning to feel a bit burnt out. i couldn't keep up with the pace of things; missed calls, unanswered emails, drafts upon drafts of incomplete text messages. my little castle on a cloud was getting mighty cramped.
i couldn't focus.
i couldn't remember my dreams at night.
i couldn't sleep at all. but it was alright- i knew in my gut something was changing. i knew that while things seemed pretty bleak, a new horizon was getting ready to emerge.
"quit your job? what do you even want to do? you can't just throw it all away because you can't explain your feelings…that's crazy-talk"
as the seasons changed from winter to spring, the rhythmic hum of my life turned shrill. i could no longer ignore what had been bubbling within me. i knew that if i didn't act on those urges- and fast, then i never would. i could see my life play out as a sad, pathetic, washed up version of all my dreams. i could see myself as an old man recalling the past in hopes of drowning out the now. i could see myself in every person who told me what i was doing was wrong- that dreams have a shelf life and we all have to grow up sometime.
my last day on the air was friday the 13th- an ominous day, but in an optimistic way. when i quit my job, there were a lot of people who didn't really get why i was doing it. shockingly enough, i was one of those people. i didn't leave with another job lined up- i didn't have a normal list of benchmarks to determine my success…i was more or less just wingin' it.
once out of the 9a-5p world (or 7p-3a world…i lived in many different ones) i told myself to simply, follow my passions. "i want to do stand-up but i can't stop making crafts. i want to make more videos but can't stop taking nature photos." my mind was in a constant state of frenzy; constantly swirling with questions, answers, and new projects. i had been used to a world where i was completely saturated in my job. since i left school, i was my job. i was always at work or thinking about it. transforming from a person to a job title isn't hard living in/around the nation's capital- people are constantly talking about what they do like it defines them.
around the end of the summer i was all but convinced i was beginning to go insane. i was beginning to run out of the money i'd set aside to survive sans job and more pressingly- i no longer WAS my job…i was simply myself- but who the fuck was that? oh hello mid-life crisis…what appropriate timing you have. this 24 year old, quirky young lady was in need of having her cage rattled! thanks for swooping on down and bopping her on the head.
my parents wanted me to get a job, my body wanted to be quiet and think. i was hopelessly tired and felt as if i was accomplishing nothing. waves of depression began to do their pre-crest pull. rather than continue to be still and listen to my inner voice, i began a full out sprint to the stage to begin my stand-up comedy career.
the rush when you come off the stage is one countless comics spend a lifetime chasing. it was addictive…one open mic turned into a handful of shows- but i wasn't proud of my work. when i started doing shows, i was venting about the things that i hadn't been able to say for a while. mostly about being a femme lesbian in a male-dominated world…and not because WE live in a male dominated world but i was coming from 5 years experience in the radio/TV industry- which is still very much a boys' club. i'd watch videos of my stand-up performances only to be horrified at how i came across…"that's not me! i'm more than that!!"
the challenge with "finding your voice in comedy" is first in realizing that you will never find your voice in comedy if you are looking for it. being humorous isn't a language or dialect, it is (at its core) about human connections… finding a universal thread and pulling it to evoke a smile. for several months i was scared to go back on stage. at the time i felt it was because i hadn't found my comedic voice but i know now that it was ME that i had yet to find.
i had to slow down- WAY DOWN from what i'd been used to. i had to re-evaluate everything. what do i believe? what are my talents? where do my passions lie?
in the fall i exploded creatively. what should have been a blessing seemed to be more of a curse. i was creating, thinking, and inside of my head so much that it was hard to do anything but create. i could see a future where i supported myself through my talents, and just like that- the fog of uncertainty began to lift. all this time i'd been telling myself that the voice within that urged me to make new things was a distraction. wanting to take pictures when i was to be writing jokes or making art when i should have been reading…these weren't distractions but muses waking up!
"you're ADD or something- everyone is now a'days."
i'm sorry- but that's just not true. i'm not hyperactive, i'm hypercreative- and no drug can slow down my brain. nearly 8 months have passed since i left a job for my dreams… and i still have no idea what the fuck i'm doing with my life. i have a ways to go before i'm supported by my art and living in my dreamworld but everyday brings me one step closer to all that exists within me.
people will always have an opinion and oft times they mirror the negative voices in our heads. i hate to be so curt- but fuck those people. life is a series of choices and these have been mine. i proudly stand behind them all. if you don't think i'm living my life according to your standards, you're absolutely right. i'm finally beginning to understand that direction and aim are two very different things. one aims at a target and success is black and white- either you made your mark or didn't. direction, on the other hand, has no specific end point…just movement.
i, ashley linder, vow in 2012 to continue moving in the direction of my dreams- join me, won't you?