by Ellyn Marie Marsh
I love social media. I love keeping up with friends that I don’t get to see all the time and seeing their personal successes and watching their babies grow and watching them buy homes and achieve all their dreams. Because of what I do for a living, I’ve met several people around the world that I wouldn’t otherwise keep in touch with.
Likewise, I enjoy sharing my life with others. I love telling funny stories about the stuff my daughter says to me, promoting events, charities or people that I just especially love and I love a good meme. I also share my personal successes for people that care and who am I kidding, for people that don’t as well.
I think finding the right balance of sharing enough of yourself while keeping a private life is a delicate negotiation. Do I share my heart and my secrets in order to appear transparent? Or do I keep that for the couch and only talk about with my therapist? Everybody has a different take , everybody has a different idea of what’s acceptable and everyone is free to make the decision of the kind of social media presence they have.
I am a calculated sharer. I pick and choose the things that I want to share with people and keep other things close to the chest with close friends and family. I generally don’t talk about auditions, family members who may be sick or struggling, or my personal demons or struggles. It makes me nervous and I’ve always strayed from things too heavy. That’s not to say I try and portray my life better than it actually is, the opposite is true, I generally try to add a funny spin to a story or add some self deprecating comment. The same holds true when I choose to perform. I don’t like gravitate to deep meaningful pieces. I’ve never waved through a window or nor do I find it comfortable to sing something that will stir up to emotions in me. I like to keep things light and fluffy, easy and fun.
But on Monday, May 21, I’m going to step out on stage at Joe’s Pub and tell some of the most private and personal stories I’ve ever told in public. This is not my wheelhouse. This is not where I live. As the days draw closer, the pit in my stomach gets larger and I keep thinking “what have I done!” And “can I refund everybody’s money!”
Last year I had some pretty heinous things happen to me at the hands of another person in the community. It wouldn’t take too many google clicks to figure out who it is and this makes me more nervous than even sharing the story. But here’s what I’ve learned, pouring your pain into art sometimes produces the best results. There’s something cathartic about sharing your story and just having people listen, (it’s either catharsis or wanting to puke-I mix those two up.) The audience may not have the exact response that you want or they possibly may have the opposite response to what you want. I spent nearly six years in the same (glorious) Broadway show, there is a certain comfort in knowing what is expected of you everyday. So now, I’m going to step out on a new stage, all alone, with a bunch of foreign emotions and I have NO idea what will happen. Same me, different style. Godspeed.
To those who are joining me on Monday, thank you so much for giving me the safe space to share my story and I hope I make it through. See you on the other side.
Ellyn Marie Marsh: I'm Sorry, What? debuts at Joe's Pub on Monday, May 21.