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Over the last couple of months I’ve been working with a lot of children and teens. I mean, that’s what I’ve done my whole career but lately I’ve been branching out into teaching theatre and playwriting. I love it. And it’s hard to be patient sometimes.

When it’s the third class in a row that the teens haven’t brought any new pages on their scripts. When the kids in my acting class won’t stop asking questions in the middle of me trying to explain the very thing that they are asking about. When they refuse to speak or participate or even stand still!

I find myself feeling stressed and frustrated, not because of the behavior but because if they don’t participate I can’t actually teach them anything. If you don’t bring pages you won’t get better. If you don’t participate you can’t improve.

And then I realize what a hypocrite I’m being. I don’t write pages until the very last minute most of the time. And I rarely write as much as I should. I also get scared and hold myself back from doing things. And my comfort with failure (and my desire to learn and grow) didn’t really kick in until a couple of years ago. Before that it was all about being safe.

So I can’t be too hard on the children and youth who are struggling. But I can think about the ways that I was helped over my own fears. Creating a safe environment in which to fail. Encouraging them (and yes, sometimes pushing them) to write more and submit pages. Calling out their good work and encouraging them to do more of it.

I can also have patience with developing brains and bodies that are full of questions and wiggles and the inability to be quiet or sit still.

We’re all figuring it out. We’re all in this together. The life of an artist is one of journeying, never arrival. And that can be seriously frustrating sometimes. But it can also be beautiful.

So we’ll walk this journey together.

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Photo Credit: citymaus Flickr via Compfight cc