Lessons Learned and Speaking Fools

The following blog post was written without having actually re-read the previous Streamy post.

Hello everyone. It’s been quite a while since my last blog post. If memory serves me right, I believe I promised a thrilling part two of my red carpet Streamy experience. It turns out this is not the case! Well, for those of you who’ve been waiting with bated breath all this time (read: no one, as there is no need for part two), I’m sorry (although your breathing abilities surpass even those of a master pirate.)

By this point, enough time has passed that I honestly don’t remember all of the details of the Streamys. Clearly. I remember I went inside with my good friends JD Walsh, Jay Hayden, and Alison Haislip. I remember I got to sit down in the very front row (I’m pretty sure). I remember frantically writing my acceptance speech (I’m so cute) (I described myself as adorable in the previous post. Nice to see I still think the same way.) while the other awards were being given out. I remember that JD saw Geroge Takei and he want over to say hi to him and tell him that he was a big fan of his work (both in the performance sphere and as a social activist, such as his “It’s Okay to be Takei Campaign”). And I remember feeling that I wish I was brave enough to go over and say hi to George.

How’s that for a revelation? I mean, when you’ve gotten nominated for a Streamy, that’s *just about* as famous as you can possibly get. But as my story shows, even Streamy nominees can still be star struck. Who woulda thunkit.

Though the following paragraph relates a story already told, the editor has seen fit to leave it in as it reveals some marginally interesting backstory into the author’s character. I also remember that my video didn’t play when they were showing the “Oscar winning Moments” as it were. It’s kinda funny… Oscar Winning Moment was an improv game that JD asked me to play when I first auditioning for his improv classes as the Ultimate Improv theatre in Westwood, California. Though how much exactly no one can say for sure, my performance in Oscar Winning Moment at those auditions must have played some part in JD reaching out to me and welcoming me into his theatre. Taking his improv classes, and eventually becoming a player in a main stage team, were the first steps of many that led to me being involved in Battleground and ultimately nominated for a Streamy. So, er, isn’t it funny that my “real” Oscar winning moment, or at least my Streamy winning moment, or, er, my Streamy NOMINATED moment, was cruelly snatched out from under me.

In all seriousness, though it was a little disappointing, it wasn’t enough to detract from the awesome spectacle of the rest of the evening. Vanilla Ice serenaded all of us with some beautiful music Pretty funny that Vanilla Ice was apparently important enough to be mentioned twice. Must have been a real highlight., the cast of Glee gave out an award, the guy that played Sokka in the Airbender movie gave a, ah, tactless speech about how low he had fallen to be handing out a web-content award. I understand why he’s upset though. He’ll have to live his whole life knowing Jack De Sena should have reprised his role in the film. That’s a lot of guilt to be carrying around with you.

Though a little bit of overlap remains, what follows is essentially the first “new” content this post provides

I then went to a party, where I was reminded of a couple of very important lessons.

The first lesson involves talking with strangers, and how I’m not very good at it.

Here I was, surrounded by people that were *probably* all really nice, and *definitely* really cool. I mean, we were all involved in the film industry in some capacity, right? We’re all living the dream! And living the dream successfully enough to be nominated for awards for it! Or at least successfully enough to finagle a way into a fancy post-ceremony party.

Anyway, I had a hard time interacting with these people. Not that this is news to me, but you, gentle reader, might be interested to learn that I’m never particularly outgoing around strangers. I tend to clam up and only speak when I’m reasonably confident that I can convince the stranger in question to like me. But if ever there was a time when I *should* have been able to feel good about myself, THIS WAS IT. I had just been nominated for an award for work that I’m incredibly proud of. I didn’t have to be braggy about it, but you’d think I’d be able to muster up enough courage and self confidence to feel like I could hold my own at a party.

But for whatever reason I couldn’t. And that’s lesson number one: I want to live my life so that I have enough confidence in myself to hold my own in any social situation. To have enough confidence that people can disagree with me, and I don’t have to take that disagreement personally, or as a them having a problem with who I am as a person. Enough self confidence to always remember that I am who I am.

Okay, maybe that is more of a goal than a lesson. But the reminder to take more active steps towards achieving that goal? Totally a lesson. And a sobering one at that.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have done a lot of different, awesome things in my life. Consequently, I actually find myself to be pretty awesome, for the most part at least. Struggling with confidence around others while internally thinking highly of myself might seem paradoxical, but apparently these feelings aren’t as mutually exclusive as one might think. Part of this goal to be at peace with myself is more of a psychological change–presenting myself in ways in which I’m not selling myself short. Maybe your “clever” ploy at employing the voice of the editor isn’t the best way to achieve this, buddy.

But deeper than that, I need to start making some fundamentally different life choices. I need to actually live a life where I feel comfortable and happy talking about it with others.

Anyway, moving on to the second lesson the Streamy’s saw fit to teach me. My aforementioned friend and fellow Streamy nominee Alison Haislip was talking with some of her old friends that she had made over the course of her tenure at G4, and the entertainment industry as a whole. Too shy to speak with anyone else, I infiltrated one of Alison’s circle of friends, and she introduced me as her costar in Battleground. This was met with the perfunctory nod and smile that etiquette demands when someone has just told you something that you don’t really care all that much about. Alison, queen of social graces as she is, was able to recognize her comrades nonplussed feelings towards me, and interjected that besides being an actor, I’m a PhD student working on artificial intelligence in games.

And boy, did her friends’ faces light up.

The second lesson: one mans life is another man’s aspiration. Or something. I haven’t really thought through all the implications of my freshly minted adage, but it was really fascinating to see that they seemed to really value the actual making of games, while they couldn’t care less about me being yet another actor in a fancy LA party. But in Grad School, *everyone* is in grad school, and me being an actor is a way for me to differentiate myself. Since that’s the status quo, I think I had begun to convince myself that grad school was a given, and acting is exciting and novel, and thus I found myself quite envious of these people who are lucky enough to work with film as a full time career. It only took being transplanted for an evening to remember how easily the verdancy of grass can play tricks with your eyes.

So, why does this resonate with me? Well, it was a nice reminder that *every* part of me is awesome. Well, er, okay, maybe not *every* part–clearly my pride could use some humbling, if nothing else–but that *in general* I’m an awesome package. And that even though any given person might not be equally enthralled by every aspect of my personality, every one can hopefully find at least one part of me that they like. BUT, even more importantly than that, it doesn’t matter, or it shouldn’t matter, or I would like to not be bothered if it matters or not, if people actually don’t find anything about me that they like. Because if that is the case, then it probably just means that they don’t know me very well. And if they don’t like me before knowing me, then maybe I’m not interested in getting to know them better either.

And I can’t think of anything that involves much more self confidence than that.

So, here I am. Just a guy with a cool website. The Streamy’s happened a long time ago, but here’s the thing: this whole time I’ve merely been using them as a vehicle to talk about thoughts that I’ve been thinking for a while now, in these modern times of ours. Specifically, I want to embrace every bit of who I am, and to try and become as well rounded a person as humanly possible.

Based on the fact that you managed to find this website, you maybe, probably, already know a little bit about me. You know that I like to act and that I like to program. But did you know I’m learning how to cook (slowly, timidly, sometimes disgustingly?) Or that I’ve discovered/implemented an organization system that is helping me to stay on task in the midst of having a lot of unstructured time? It’s true!

Maybe you knew that I like to exercise? If you knew that, well, I’m impressed because that’s news to me. But regardless of how much I like it, I *have* been exercising and running. Maybe you’d be interested in hearing more about this? Surely the struggles of the unfit attempting to better themselves is an inspiring tale for any generation.

Or maybe you’d like to learn about how I have a ton of awesome friends, and how all of them are doing incredible things, like making games and movies and tv shows of their own? Maybe I could share with you all of those things! And then you could just go to their websites directly!

I guess what I’m trying to say is, my life is full of exciting projects and even more exciting people, and by writing about them, I hope to have a record that I can look back on and admire how I’ve grown as a person. I don’t want to be scared to talk about myself at parties, and so to practice I’ll work on not feeling scared to talk about myself on the internet.

There’s a whole bunch of quotes about wise men and fools in the world, but one of my favorites goes to the tune of “A wise man keeps his mouth shut and is thought a fool, the fool opens his and confirms it.” This quote has quite the origin story and many different variants, although its worth noting that none of them matches what was written here. http://quoteinvestigator.com/2010/05/17/remain-silent/. I’ve been scared of being thought a fool for most of my life. And as pithy and enjoyable as that quote is, I think it also might be a little detrimental. I think that only speaking when you have something you want to say in general is good advice, but I also think that talking, or writing, or otherwise communicating your thoughts is a way to temper them. It’s part of the growing process, the journey of leaving foolishness behind on a quest for wisdom.

And besides, the fool/wise binary is a fabrication. As is all things, wisdom is a spectrum, and we’ll all just doing our best, hoping that our best gets better and better over time.

Anyway, thanks for waiting so long to hear about how the Streamy’s went. After the party I went to my friend Jay’s house and watched him coach his friend Jesse for an audition he had. And then I think we might have playeed Call of Duty or something. It was really nice.

It’s good oto see you again, Gentle Reader. And I hope to see you again real soon,

your friend,

Ben Samuel