For the past two weeks, I’ve been taking to social media, exhibiting my happiness about getting to work with a Royal cast. All my pictures display smiles, kisses, and general overall bliss. One thing it wasn’t displaying was the state of my skin.
It’s very easy, especially with filters and lighting, to make myself look completely normal. So many do it. And, it isn’t to trick people, or to seek out vain flattery. It makes me feel a twinge of sadness when I get compliments because I can’t genuinely take them; most of the pictures shown usually don’t depict the true story. They aren’t accurate if you’re looking at flaws or physical aesthetics. But that’s not why I post them. I post these moments, these heart warming, life-giving moments because I want to remember the utter happiness I felt in them. I want to cherish them and never let them go during this trying time.
I don’t want to remember that my skin felt like sandpaper, or that I had to continually check my face in the mirror since it kept cracking, or that the thoughts of someone seeing me naked, let alone my bare arms, gave me uncontrollable anxiety. Who would want that? All I care to remember are the laughs that were belted, the drinks that were inevitably spilled, and the joy I felt while being a part of a team. I don’t care that it was fleeting. If I spend every moment in doors and away from the world when my skin is bothering me, I’d never leave these four walls.
It’s important for us to go out into the world and socialize. Emotionally, it can be difficult, but it is more rewarding and mentally encouraging to do so. Honestly, the security of hiding away is actually more damaging to our emotional health than it would be to brave the world. We need friendship, camaraderie, and connection. It is almost impossible to gain those things when we are in the deepest battles of Red Skin Syndrome, but when we are able to taste a bite of normality, we owe it to ourselves to snag those opportunities.
Every time I work with a cast for Royal, my spirit lifts. I may not be able to join them on stage, but it’s uplifting to be around people who cherish dance and performing just as much as I do. There is a thrill when watching someone finally understand their strength, when they work together, when they cheerfully get to fly. The cherry on top is whenever I get to connect with some of the cast members. All of these graceful souls who use movement on stage to tell a story are lovely to witness, but it’s beyond wonderful getting to hear their real stories after rehearsals have finished. It’s like traveling without leaving your seat. They come from all around the world, all their backgrounds as different as their faces.
I think that’s what I love most about casts. They are an amalgamation, a melting pot of personalities and cultures. Like a family, you don’t get to choose them, but you learn to love them because they are your clan. You may fight with them, bicker, misunderstand one another, but at the end of the day, at the end of a contract, most of that doesn’t matter.
So, as far as social media goes, I care not to make sure people see the physical reality I face every day. It would be one dreary Instagram page if I did. Instead, when I am at my happiest, surrounded by love and enjoyment, I care to hold on to the memory more than I care for the accuracy of a picture. I’ll put every filter I need in order to capture that precious moment the way I wish to have it immortalized. It’s not for frivolous likes, or follows, or deception, it’s simply for how I wish to remember some of the best days given to me during this shakeable hour.
My heart was recharged amongst these beauties. I hope their rehearsals continue to be safe and filled with laughter. And I hope, one day, to have my own family of diverse faces and attitudes, tumbling around on a stage making memories of our own.
Love, B. R.