Reviews | Andrew Rannells: What I learned about Cameo during Covid
I told myself I was doing this because I was bored, because I was lacking in activity. It was really more than that. I was alone. I felt isolated. And the activity I chose to distract myself – drinking – made those feelings stronger and more present rather than making them go away.
I play pretend for a living. It’s my job. And even when I wasn’t asked to use a script, in a talk show or podcast, for example, I was developing my own. Yes, I am myself in these times, but only the best possible version of myself. Cameo seemed to be an extension of this skill. I would be me, but just the best me. This is what I was hired for. This is what people expected from this experience.
Who was I to be depressed? I was in good health. My family was in good health. I have a successful career. I didn’t have the magnitude of the problems other people had, so what right was I allowed to complain about or ask for help?
But I needed help. I, too, needed someone to tell me that everything was going to be fine. That I was fine. I rarely reached out for it. Now I was there, sitting at my desk, being asked to encourage strangers to keep going, to have hope, to believe that everything will be fine. But did I believe it myself? Could I say these things and make them look true? Was this better public version of myself enough to actually help these people? If I didn’t believe it myself, would they believe it?
I once heard actress and singer Christine Ebersole say in one of her cabaret acts: “What words can I give you to comfort me at this time?” I think that’s exactly how I felt while making these videos. It was selfish to allow those people who asked for help to distract me from my own woes, but that’s exactly what it did. And I started to think that maybe I should be brave enough to ask for my own help, to reach out to people close to me and allow myself to be vulnerable and honest about how I was feeling.
Realizing that there is a problem is a step in the right direction, but how do you change course? I didn’t have a clear answer for myself, so I decided to cast a wide net in the hopes of catching something useful. I resumed regular therapy. I found new productive activities, some meditation applications, some self-help books. I went back to a regular workout routine. I contacted loved ones more frequently and tried to be honest about where I was. None of this was an instant fix. Sharing my feelings didn’t mean they were going away. There is no guarantee of instant acceptance or release from anxiety or sadness. But I was feeling less isolated and lonely. All of these little changes in my mindset and my routine started to make a difference. I started to feel better.
On the days when I’m not that hot, I make a point of not running away from this feeling. I’m not trying to chase it away or distract myself; I recognize him. There is something liberating about saying, “Well, today sucks! Then continue your day.