Pride and Prejudice: I’m an artist ‘following the dream you bailed on’

I like to think of myself as an amiable person.  It’s very hard for me to dislike someone.  So when someone equates being an actor with being a waitress and depletes my fragile value to nothing – or worse – less than nothing, it’s hard for me to like that person.

Come see me in Pride & Prejudice at the PFI Historic Park downtown in Ellicott City, Maryland. Show opens June 22.

My mother told me as a child when I have a hard time with someone, I should find something I really like about the person – be it a Barbie doll, ponytail, or endurance for hopscotch – and then I should sincerely compliment the person.

As an adult, I find this little “You have a beautiful Barbie” trick is harder to pull off.  I don’t like their ponytail, they won’t share their Barbies, and I could care less if they have a good game of hopscotch or not.  In fact, and this is where it gets scary – I have a hard time liking them because the quality I dislike in them is actually a quality I have in myself.  My dislike of them turns out to be a dislike of myself projected onto them.

So when people equate being an actor with being a waitress, I’m appalled by their ignorance, but even more hurt by their pride.  The pride that says acting and waitressing are less than themselves, less than human.  Nevermind I’m a physician’s daughter, well-read, well-traveled and smothered in good education.  The actor stereotype says it all: not ambitious or intelligent, day-dreaming, ill-qualified, lost.  A waitress.

I wish there were a color deeply red enough to depict my abhorrence of this naivete.  Rothko wouldn’t know what to call that canvas.

But what I hate even more than the satisfaction people seem to take from my supposedly low, lesser-than, and loserville dwelling lifestyle is my hurt and indignation at their thoughtless comments.

It's all about pride.
It’s all about pride and a little prejudice.

For in that hurt reveals my own pride – the pride I get in applause at the end of the night, the pride I get from explaining, “I’m an artist (subtext: I followed the dream you bailed on),” and the pride I get in succeeding from gig to gig- one Kitty Bennet and one killer blog post at a time.

When my pride is injured, exposed, and diminished by people’s scoffing, I’m revealed as one idolatrous, needy, lustful human – seeking endless approval from the broken man.  … A twisted cycle in which everyone gets hurt.

Because pride may inflate your ego, but the moment is fleeting.  Someone else comes to the party and your balloon is popped.  Someone will always be better than you – even if you were “better than a waitress.”

It’s a bitter pill to swallow: that you and your enemy are one in the same.  So often we hate others because they “bring out the worst in us.”  Shine a light on them and their true colors are revealed.

Blinking, startled by the light ourselves, we realize our true colors match theirs.  We hate ourselves, understanding their ugly hearts beat in our bodies.  Is there a doctor in the house?

(Feature photo from rehearsal time at Pride & Prejudice.  Click here for ticket information.  Show opens June 22.)