We all made it through High School, so we all know what it's like to be labelled. See what I did just there? I just labelled all of you as High School graduates, but it is at least possible that I have a reader who is as of yet not finished with High School. It's so second nature for human beings to look at someone and categorize them for easy reference. Why would someone want to meet "Adam" when they can simply shake Adam's hand and instinctively know all there is to know about "Preppy Math Kid". It is a vicious part of the human psyche and one that I've seen people eagerly try to change in this world, and also perpetuate on a day to day basis. It goes beyond calling someone "American", there are connotations that go with it. I would bet that for a good majority of Americans if you say "Muslim" their first instinct would be to think of an Islamic Radicalist. Why? Because somewhere along the way our culture decided that those two things were synonymous. That couldn't be farther from the truth. Adam's existence as a Preppy Math Kid might only come so far as his clothing, his interests, or even so far as how he carries himself and his books as he walks down the halls.
For me? It's pretty much an every day occurrence. In Theatre it's an unfortunate occupational hazard. A necessity of the trade. There are so many 23 year old Irish actors in New York, it's absurd, and if you're looking for ONLY 23 year old Irish actors, you better put in your casting notice that this is all you want. This lets those who are not 23 year old Irish actors that they need not apply. Yet in doing so I've been given a label, a designation by which I know I pass a test. Just like in High School. Except the difference is that I have made it a requirement of my life to exist beyond labels. You see, while I recognize labeling and typing as a necessary evil to the Theatre industry, it is an evil I don't mind. In order to fit a part, you must first, indeed, fit the part. Much of the theatre canon is written to make a point about a group of people, and you need someone from within that group to make the point, consciously or subconsciously.
In my own life, however, I have always been one happy to do what I want, enjoy what I want, know those who I want to know, and strive to continue to live that way. Just today I was remarked on as an "enigma" by a wonderful person who gave me so much joy at that description.
What could be better than being known as an enigma? It means that I am not able to be labeled, I have beaten the concept of the social mold, and I am officially whoever I want to be. Now I recognize the negative connotations as well. It is at least possible that a person tries so hard to fit in to all molds that they create no identity for themselves and are therefore not able to be labeled. This person would also be an enigma. I wear enigma like a badge, however. Today the comment came from the person's discovery that not only has I received a degree in Musical Theatre, but I was Straight, and was also wearing a New England Patriots hat, and a Firefly TV Show sweatshirt. I had officially stepped out of all molds that she could try and label me into. But all of those things are extremely important to me. In fact looking back, I have always existed a bit in multiple types, in many labels, and not entirely in any of them.
In high school I was a member of the Chorus, and a 4 year All-State participant, I ran two A'Cappella groups, I was active in the theatre both on stage and off, and I was a 2 sport 4 year varsity athlete. Those only covered my in school interests and didn't even begin to cover my love of Video Games, Movies, Television, Reading, Animals, Stuffed Animals, Science Fiction in all its forms, etc.
In college I was a Musical Theatre major who loved all things New England Patriots, and rabidly followed Boston sports teams, I played Xbox frequently, I had at one time been an Athlete, I was straight, and I was by no means known as a "Dancer". I did not fit the stereotypical mold of the Musical Theatre major and I read this on people's faces often.
What I've discovered in my short six months out of college, is that those labels are still very predominant in the world outside of educational institutions. Sure, people are significantly more willing to talk to someone outside their social circle in the real world, but you're still almost instantaneously judged on your profession, clothing, interests, hairstyle, place of origin, borough lived within, etc. Those things do not define a person, they are part of an algorithm through which a person defines themselves. If someone is defining themselves through their profession, then they are going about life wrong, chasing after concepts that do not matter.
When I walk into a bar on sunday to watch the Patriots game, I will be surrounded by Packers fans and I will be wearing a Patriots hat. I will instantly be judged by those people, and any one of them who happily talks with me and has a beer with me while watching a football game? They're the ones who get it right.
- an actor
- a singer
- a dancer
- a fight director
- a staged combatant
- a romantic
- a proud member of Whedonverse
- a gamer
- a diehard Patriots fan
- a lover of all Boston/New England sports teams, even the sports I could care less about
- an athlete
- a comic book reader
- a lover of classics
- Sherlock Holmes obsessed
- a geek
- funny (at least to myself, the rest of you can make up your own mind there)
- a whole lot more than any of these things listed here.
I am Ned Donovan. Labeled.
Photo by Danny Bristoll
(fac·to·tum | \ fak-ˈtō-təm) noun - a person having many diverse activities or responsibilities
I find myself hilarious, and I use this blog to stroke my own ego. Thanks for indulging me.