I am a star!
Or, rather, I was a star!
This winter, I was a main character in Junior Theater’s production of How I Became a Pirate. If you made it to the show, you know that I definitely had my moment to shine.
I am very proud of my performance, and thrilled that my family was able to enjoy it.
They got to see a bit more of the 11-year-old character who they have created. But, I am now experiencing a severe letdown, because I don’t have any more performances on my schedule. No more rehearsals, no more costume changes, no more cast gatherings.
I’m suffering from what is known as the “letdown effect”. Here is how University of Wisconsin psychologist Shilagh A. Mirgain describes it:
“You have this mobilization of inner energies to take action on something big, and afterward you think you will be exhilarated because you accomplished it, but you could have this letdown instead.”
It’s also known as the “crash landing”. I am experiencing exactly that.
I know I have more big moments ahead of me. Heck, I’m only 11. But that performance seemed like the cherry on top of the bowl of ice cream for me. Now, there is no more cherry.
It is ridiculous to think that you are going to have the greatest day of your life three times a week. But the feeling of ultimate excitement is very difficult to forget. You want to repeat that feeling again, while trying to deal with the fact that today, the day you are living right now, is likely not going to offer you that ultimate thrill.
So I am taking the advice of the experts in trying to cope with the letdown I am experiencing.
Suggestion No. 1 – Maintain other interests
The big moment you experience is going to be with you for the rest of your life. But you must make sure it does not define the rest of your life.
The way to do that is to have other interests that spark you.
Prior to my acting performance, I certainly was involved in other activities, and I still am. Before I hit the spotlight, I enjoyed moments of pleasure participating in those other activities. I threw myself back into those other outlets, in part to take my mind off of the thrill from the Pirate show, and in part to build on another passion. For example, we have some field trips planned that I’m looking forward to.
Suggestion No. 2 - Build on the thrill
Psychologists say that it would be a mistake to try to forget the big moment. You are not going to be able to do that successfully.
Instead, they suggest you build on the thrill. I am certainly looking forward to participating in another acting performance in the future. But I am also trying to build on the relationships and friendships I forged during the performance. I now have a new base of friends with whom I shared an ultimate thrill. We can not only reminisce about how much fun we had, but we can share other exciting moments in our lives and find even more common ground.
It is very similar to the joy one experiences when playing on a sports team. That team is not going to stay together forever; you are not likely to continue to play soccer or basketball or baseball together for the rest of your lives. But you can maintain that relationship started through participation and allow it to grow into some other activity.
That’s the funny thing about life and friendships. You can certainly go out and try to make friends, but you can also take advantage of the friendships life thrusts upon you.
Suggestion No. 3 – Move on
Apparently, there are hundreds of actors who allowed themselves to be defined by famous TV or movie roles they had as children, and never had another moment of great fame to follow. As a result, they turn into adults who spend their entire lives being forced to reflect on that great moment they had as a child. The adults in my life can toss around names of people in that situation like they are throwing peanuts.
I’m not suggesting my moment in Pirate is that big a deal (although it was a big deal for me). But I certainly don’t want to be talking about that show 20 years from now when someone asks “So, what was the greatest moment in your life so far?” Certainly, I might pull out a few stories from that period, and I may just happen to have that video above bookmarked on my phone, but I want to have other moments to share as well.
Sometimes, you might hear someone tell you not to get too high or too low. I don’t agree with that. You want to have moments where you are on top of the emotional mountain, where you can raise your arms to the sky and scream “Thank you!”.
But you just need to be aware that there is more to life than that one moment. You can pursue more moments like that, and you can remember that one moment for when you are down and need a lift. But you want to have something else to think about, something else that sparks you, that might just carry you on to another “greatest moment in your life.”