You don’t realize you might have no self-esteem at all until someone puts an HD camera 16 inches in front of your face and tells you to act natural.

Acting is not a foreign concept to me. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been storing at least three different screenplays in my head at once, playing every character to perfection. And even when the films were real, and not of my own creation, I was a good actress. I was better than good, I was desired. Friends sought me out for projects; sometimes they even wrote roles with me in mind.

Take for example, the role that catapulted me to mild local stardom. Last year, I starred in my friend’s movie about a girl who’d fallen in love with Jesus. It won an award at our town’s local film festival, and, in addition to a pretty big screening, we got a fair amount of press. People recognized me as Myrtle, the girl who cried over Christ’s chastity. My friends and their parents and my parents told me I should pursue acting seriously. What none of them understood was that I was not acting in that movie. I’m a girl who is insecure and sometimes introverted and a little weird when it comes to taste preferences. I’m immature and obsessive. I am the type to fall in love with Jesus. In an alternate universe, I probably have. Thus, I was not truly acting. I was merely displacing emotions. I don’t understand how no one else saw that. (But, I’m glad.)

Because of this role, I was cast in another project. This one is being made by a group of kids a lot younger than me, but far more professional, timely, and creative. My character is a bubbly, hot girl. My audition left me full of pride, but my first day of shooting has not. I stutter and miss cues and marks and want to cry a lot. It’s not that my character is two-dimensional. And while it’d be very easier to credit our differences in personality as the reason for my sense of inadequacy, we’re very much alike—outgoing, excitable, with all the qualities of an “extra” person. What I lack is my character’s deeply-rooted confidence. Confidence in her physical presence, her knowledge, her friendships and relationships. Her confidence surpasses the extent of my superficial arrogance, it bleeds into every aspect of her being.

For this reason, I fear (and know) that no amount of direction can improve my performance. I don’t open doors like a confident person would or pronounce “the” like a confident person would or know how to hug people like a confident person would.

I hope I don’t ruin this movie. I hope if I don’t ruin this movie, it makes me feel a bit more secure. ♦