This will be a melancholic post with a dressing of reminiscence of the past. Usually, I adhere to the philosophy that whatever lies in the past cannot have any effect on the future whatsoever and I generally refrain from indulging in ‘good ole days’thoughts. However, now more than ever the past is coming back on a worldwide scale. Reasons behind Trump’s election and Brexit referendum success are witness to this. Why is that?
Historically speaking, the past often offers a glimpse into a ‘golden age’. At any time in the last 3 millennia, lots of authors have looked back and thought “well it was awesome back then, wasn’t it”, with many scholars even re-elaborating whole periods of history to fit their contemporary thinking and their bias. In some cases, some golden ages have included mass genocides, famine, Black Death, never mind that a few centuries later we found a way to justify or gloss over these little, inconvenient details.
It’s the same with us, in our little inconsequential lives… we look back and romanticise some events. And here I’ve fallen victim to the same trend.
There is a part of me I never fully accepted and that is why the past often came back to haunt me or to be seen as ‘golden’ in some regards. First of all, I was born in a Tuscan village in 1972; local mentality only allowed us girls a couple of things: 1) getting married and breed (I use this verb fully knowing the connotations!); 2) until (or if) number 1 was available, it was necessary to find a job, no matter if it was something we liked, any will do if it provided ‘cash’ (nobody was ever bothered about pay slips and such bureaucracy in those days, we kept count of our worked hours on a paper sheet hung in the factory).
‘Little me’ started working in such capacity at 12. Perfect (right?), I was on schedule! Apart from being illegal, never mind again… But then, everybody knows that teenage years wreck havoc in our lives and that is what exactly happened to me too. Around the age of 16, I fancied to get a higher education, I wanted to learn languages because travelling for work was my dream. Heresy! ‘Girls don’t need an education!!!‘, my father yelled. He yelled so loudly I can still remember it. It was not just ‘heretic’ to get an education though; the worst part was that instead of using my savings to prepare for my wedding, *gasp* I was using them to put myself in the condition of finding a job that required me to stay out of the house! In the end, I did get married but I was 40 already, needless to say my savings would have not lasted that long!
At 17, a far worse event happened, total total heresy! I wanted to use more of my savings to attend a drama school. My mum was an ex opera singer, whose aspirations and ambition had been shattered by ‘real life’. Or so she recounts the whole thing nowadays. But not all lives need to end up the same way, right? Her father, still alive at the time, supported the idea. My father was yelling all the time as you can imagine, even threatening to kick me out of the house, which didn’t happen… although I wasn’t actually allowed to rent a piano until I was 18 (damn father!). I was enrolled in a proper music school, learnt to play piano/singing/read music; unfortunately, I did not attend any drama course but found a way to appear in a movie anyway (I hope it got burnt, it was a weird indie thing!).
As you can imagine, given that you have never heard of me, nothing came to fruition. Since I stopped studying in 1995, I did many jobs until I definitely left Italy 8 years ago. I also found a way to migrate nearly everywhere since I was 24 but… the artistic thing never took off. As I am reminiscing about it these days, I wonder if my chronic defeatist attitude played a part in it and to what degree. I have the same attitude to my studies, “oh no, I’m not going to make it, I will get a fail, etc etc.”. As of today, I’ve only had a C in my degree course and it was in Level 1, so it’s not going to count for my final mark.
So, would my artistic career have taken off if I wasn’t so down-beaten by my own attitude to it? Possibly. I even scored auditions I never went to, auditions I was ill-prepared to face but sabotaged them on purpose (God knows why!), and even offers for one of my scripts that I never bothered to pay attention to!!
At this point you would think I am an idiot…. Why would anyone be threatened by success to the point that once you get the chance you don’t go through with it? Well, here I am, call me idiot if you like, but I was overwhelmed by the idea. Every. Single. Time.
You would also think I regretted that. Actually, I do but surely my number 1 reason is not what you are thinking about. I never really cared about being famous, having fans or making a crapload of money. Many of these chances might have not led to any of the above anyway. However, it led to something I have regretted: I gave up on the opportunity of doing a job I would have liked. The mindset of my upbringing “do any job because you need money”, drilled into me since a young age, has kept ruining my life over and over again, even when I didn’t actually need any money. It still does because I’m getting a degree in archaeology and history but if you asked me which job I will likely do after I graduate, I wouldn’t probably answer “archaeologist or historian”. I would fall on the old mindset ‘I need a job, whatever that is’.
And this brings a lot of dissatisfaction, a sense of ‘impossible achievement’ as regards anything I ever endeavoured to study or pursue. And given that in two days I will be 45, these thoughts heavily weigh on me. The ‘artist-that-will-never-be’ sounds now ominous and leaves a bitter taste in my mouth any time my mind wanders there.
Merlin, The Big Loser
P.S.: Silver lining: Considering the entertainment field’s obsession with youth and artists who are required to botox themselves to death, at least I’m not paraded around in retarded selfies like the one below where I need to keep my mouth open all the time (“I’m too sexy for this selfie, too sexy for this selfie” ahahaha)