The Kindness Of Strangers

wentzel
2016 was a tough year

Hi. My name is Wentzel Lombard, I’m a 25-year-old freelance actor and (kind of) writer.

No, you don’t know who I am. I haven’t been in any big movies and I don’t do musicals. It’s not that I don’t like musicals, it’s just that I can’t sing or dance for shit. I’d like to make a film or two, but I don’t have a pretty face and I’m not masculine enough for the patriarchal Afrikaner audience. I do much better in theatre where I get to be anything I want to be.

As for writing, well that’s another case. I write on and off, and occasionally I get paid for it. The rest of the time I just scream into the abyss that is my blog. This is where her royal Wenchness (fuck you, autocorrect, that is a word). She asked me to write a guest blog post, but caught me at just the wrong time. I don’t consider myself to be the world’s greatest writer, and shortly before she asked me to do this, a major publisher rejected a manuscript that I sent to them. This hit my confidence quite a bit harder than I expected and caused me to hit a complete creative block. Also, when people ask me to write something for them I have a tendency of freaking the fuck out. When I write for myself, I feel like I can get away with not being so good, but when other people ask me to write for them, I feel like I need to pull a huge rabbit out of the hat. In fact, this is my fourth attempt to write something for Wenchy (fuck off, autocorrect, you’re beige). I didn’t finish the other three because I thought that they were shit.

Now you’re just going to have to deal with my shit.

Being a “creative” person is hard. I once read in a book about acting that you never see a plumber break down in tears because someone criticised his work. But when it comes to being creative we are so fucking desperate to be validated and successful. People can give me so many positive comments about something, but that one negative response will be the thing that swims around in my thoughts. This is necessary to a degree, of course. We need to better ourselves as artists and people. When someone points out a flaw and we deem it to be a valid point, we need to fix it if we can. The most boring artists are the ones who become stagnant and believe that they “have arrived” or know everything.

This is why I recently attended an advanced film acting course. Being a theatrical actor, I often find it difficult to make the shift to camera. Last year I did the beginner’s course and learned a lot. This year I learned even more. But I was frustrated with myself. I felt very depressed going into the course, making it very difficult for me to focus when we filmed our scenes. This was very apparent when we did playback.

After I had a huge (and embarrassing) meltdown at a rehearsal, I returned to therapy and my anti-depressant dosage got increased. This had a good and bad effect – On the upside I was no longer depressed. My feelings of gloom and doom dried up. I am again able to shower every day and not sit in my car crying for no reason. The downside was that all my feelings seem to have dried up. When people ask me how I am, I don’t really have an answer. I find myself in situations where I know that I would usually be really sad, angry, or even happy – but I feel nothing. I just shrug my shoulders through this fuck up that is life.

This mostly poses a problem with my work. Being an actor and (sort of) writer, I need to be in touch with my emotions. I don’t know how to be creative without linking it to emotions. Stories relate to people and the human condition, and if we remove the ability to feel then we become robots. Fuck, I think I just realized that I’m a robot.

Where was I going with this? Oh yes.

So, after realizing that I have been stripped of all creative ability, I started thinking that I would never finish writing something for Mother Wench. Instead, I went to the theatre with a friend. Since I’m not acting, I might as well go and watch other people act.

After the show, my friend introduced me to a few people. This kind of thing is an absolute nightmare for me. I have terrible social anxiety, but being a masochist, I also decided to choose a line of work that requires me to constantly meet new people – much to my dismay.

But then the strangest thing happened.

The one girl I got introduced to told me that I looked cool. I reacted the way that I react to most compliments: (What? Me? Oh… uhm… uh… uhm… Thanks. Haha). I’ve been called many things in my life, but “cool” definitely isn’t a regular. Next, we spoke to one of the cast members. Someone said something funny and I laughed (or maybe I was just anxious). Suddenly, the actor remarked that I had a beautiful smile. I almost died. This very attractive man (straight, unfortunately) liked my smile?

And then it clicked. I knew what to write about. Kind of.

I have always had a hard time dealing with myself, if that makes sense. Whenever I go to auditions, or even when I’m just walking down the street, I feel so ugly. Thus, when someone compliments a person like me, they have no idea of the impact it makes. We all have a certain degree of narcissism inside us, and this needs to be fed. We aren’t bad people for wanting others to validate us. We are just… people.

The other night I sat up until 4h30am talking to a friend of mine, and we discussed the topic of ghosts. I said that I don’t understand why they feel the need to manifest themselves. We then both agreed that it’s probably because they wanted to be remembered. We all want to be remembered, don’t we? Not necessarily in the way that James Dean or Marilyn Monroe are remembered, but it would be nice to think that for some time after I’m gone, people will think of me and remember that once upon a time there was a person called Wentzel and he did something.

And I realized that in asking me to write this post, I was also being validated by Madame Wench. This is something very special. Our family and friends have to be nice to us. Those who have never met us or barely know us aren’t obliged to do anything. This is why their kindness matters the most.

Thank you.

Wentzel on Twitter

Wentzel’s Blog 

 

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One thought on “The Kindness Of Strangers

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  1. I think we all often struggle with self doubt.

    I was lucky enough to go through a strength coaching course based on Gallop Strength Testing which taught me to focus on my talents.

    Focusing on and using what we are naturally good at more effectively has made a difference for me. Check out the Gallup Strength finder website and spend some time with a coach like Johan Oosthuisen who Wenchy and I both had the honour of spending time with.

    It was life changing for me and helped so much in all spheres.

    Like

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