A normal day for me in the city of Chicago usually consists less than 2 or 3 hours because of a quick bite to eat and then an audition somewhere. Once it’s over, I head on home in my car or on the Metra and can take a breather and watch some SpongeBob or Family Guy, whatever floats my boat. Today was not that kind of day. I would highly not recommend having 3 auditions in 1 day, unless you are adventurous and have no other obligations to your social life. My audition times were consisted like this. First one, 12:35pm, second audition 4:45pm and my last one at 8:30pm. All were scattered across the city of Chicago. Some in walking and some in driving distance. Either way my entire lower body is lucky that it didn’t give out in front of all those casting directors.
The main thing I noticed about this particular day was how not only was it super exhausting, but I was able to keep myself entertained throughout the long waiting and hunger deprived lines. Someone like me who has spurts of energy one minute and then little to none the next minute has to find ways to stay focused on the task at the end. Being on the spectrum means that my mind is going all over the place and focusing on just one task is asking a lot out of me or anyone who has some kind of attention deficit disorder. I do not take Adderall as much as I should and I did not take it today, but that is because I felt extra prepared for my auditions. The other reason was because I was able to catch up with some friends and meet new bystanders at these open calls.
The city of Chicago is one of if not the most supportive and welcoming community that an actor could ask for. No one is rooting against you nor are they giving you shade on the side. The second you enter the stage door, the atmosphere is as cheerful and as encouraging as you could imagine. This is extremely important for not just me, but anyone who could be on the spectrum because having doubts and new social situations can be tricky and intimidating. Having that kind of support system makes me want to welcome myself to the room with an open mind and open heart.
The other thing that stood out to me was that while this day was tiring but rewarding, the one thing I still need to work on is the art of listening. When my mind is going fast and everywhere and when speaking with friends or people in the casting room, I must remember that while what I might say could be important, what someone else has to say could be just as important. It is polite, it is professional and it is something that I forget to do when I really want to say what I want to say because who knows if I will remember it or have it come out the same way I first envisioned it in my head. “Think before you speak” is how my mom and dad and my therapists would teach me when I was little and I am sure many other parents taught their kids that motto whether they were on the spectrum or not. This has become more an issue when trying to connect myself with people in my field of work and while first impressions are important, I want my peers and potential colleagues to remember me as someone they can trust as well as communicate to in a professional matter when the situation calls for it.
I want to have a voice and for so long I have struggled finding it or trying to express it to everyone I know and care about and more importantly have it be heard. The fear of being judged because I felt that my voice would not have an impact or it does not matter. Mentally comparing myself to others who had it all figured out and how I was not even close to where they were. This is especially true not only as an actor, but as a person. Over time I realized that the reason I was having those fears was because I was fearing myself and having this “label” put on my back. I recently talked to one of my longest friends who I have known for over 8 years. She is not on the spectrum, but she knows what it is like to have something a part of you and having the fear of that thing defining who you are as a person. Having Aspergers is NOT a label nor does it define who I am. This is a part of my life and it is something I live with and embrace because why would I be ashamed of something that is a part of my life and something that has shaped me into the man I am continuously becoming. Life is a learning process and there are plenty more obstacles for me that will come my way. That is what this crazy business is, one big obstacle and we as people have the power to face the obstacle head on or let it take control of our lives.
I should probably get to bed and get ready for the next obstacle that will come my way… Should I shower right now or wait until I get up in 6 hours?