It’s been a minute since I’ve written a blog because, well, life. And, to be honest, I’ve been feeling a little conflicted about my message. Last November, I was laid off from my serving job and I took it as a sign that I was done with waiting tables and on to the next stage of my life as a writer and actress. And everyone walked off into the sunset, stayed in love forever without fighting, and could eat as many pieces of dark chocolate as they liked without gaining any fat on their thighs. THE END.
But the fact of the matter is, that those six months made me extremely anxious, depressed, and more hopeless than the Cavs in the NBA finals. Sure, I had extra time. And I DID accomplish a couple small feats, like finishing my spec script and applying to a bunch of writing fellowships. But the overwhelming feeling of uncertainty about how I would continue to pay my bills started to eat away at me. What was supposed to be the best time of my life ended up being the worst.
It also turns out that I HATE freelance and copywriting. From afar it seems great. You write on your own schedule so you have time to tend to all your creative passions! Except at fifteen dollars per article about E-commerce tips or WordPress Customer Service plugins, which I know absolutely nothing about and, therefore, took a minimum of three hours to research and write, it would take me approximately NINE HOURS to make FORTY-FIVE DOLLARS. It took me about four days to quit that job with a big ‘ol, “Sorry, I’m not sorry.”
Meanwhile, things like headshots, acting class, and, well, FOOD, were draining the bank. Something had to give.
On a plane ride back from visiting my family in Ohio, because 1- I love them, and 2- I didn’t have to pay for food while I was there, (But mostly one, family, mostly one!!!😘) I was watching the movie Paris Can Wait, which is all about food and wine throughout the Parisian countryside. I got such overwhelming JOY from watching the leading man talk about food and wine. Way more than I had felt in the past six months banging my head against my desk urging paid work to come from ANYTHING besides writing about Woocommerce (I mean, what even IS that?), that I got off that plane and IMMEDIATELY decided to go for my level one sommelier license.
I had been talking about taking my level one sommelier test for years but something always got in the way. Now, with no more job excuse, I put my foot on the gas. With only one month to study, (way less than I would have liked) I hit the books hard. Immediately, I felt better. I had a concrete purpose, pass this test. It’s the complete opposite of acting and writing where each day you can figure out something to pursue but there is never any guaranteed outcome. Trust me, I’ve been acting and writing in L.A. for ten years and… let’s not talk about it. This post is supposed to be about how I’m NOT depressed anymore. 😜 But with this, if I studied hard I WOULD pass the test. And I had to face the facts, there is a huge part of me that likes and needs that kind of stability.
At the same time, with my unemployment about to run out, I also started applying for serving jobs. This was a huge blow to my ego. I had SWORN I was done with this. But also, it shook my faith a little. I have a considerably strong practice that I follow. I buy in to meditation, positive affirmations, and visualization. Hell, I even have a vision board. I write about these things. I BELIEVE them. So please, pardon my French, but what the fuck?!?! Shouldn’t I have a bevy of paid acting jobs? Star in my own sitcom? Anything besides my actual reality of performing two short plays in a very small black box theater… for FREE???
I believe that God has a plan for me, but it became this huge cosmic joke. Why did He instill this heart engulfing desire into me to act and write just to block me at every turn? Why give me this talent if I’m not supposed to use it? OR, maybe, I’m just one of those outtakes on American Idol where I think I’m amazing but I really suck!!! I began to pray for God to take away the overwhelming desire to act and write before it consumed my very soul. And now you can definitely tell I’m an actor by the amount of over-dramatics in that previous sentence.
The fact is, most self-help gurus will tell you that there is some underlying limiting belief that is holding you back. Deep down you don’t believe you’re good enough. Well, I spent the last five years taking every acting class, journaling, breaking down these beliefs to the point where I’m now almost arrogant about my abilities. (I say ALMOST because just this morning after acting class I was so critical of my work I was THIS close to tears. Hey, it’s a process.) But the point is, I’ve done so much work on myself I genuinely believe I am good enough. I even tell my parents that when I walk into an audition no one will be better than me. Maybe as good as me, or look more right for the part, but talent wise? Never better.
Other gurus will say that I have limiting beliefs about the way the world works. I’m expecting failure so I’m manifesting it. Maybe I’m not visualizing enough. Or maybe I’m not turning circles in the right direction with a chicken on my head. Give me a break. Sometimes I have to say enough is enough. I’m here to tell you that if you are struggling, IT IS NORMAL. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either lying, or trying to sell you their $2,000 self help program. I believe you can control your reactions to circumstances, but sometimes life is just shitty.
Two things happened recently to help me come to this conclusion. The first is that my cousin gave birth to my niece prematurely, (OK, technically not my niece, but my second cousin. I badly want to be an aunt so humor me) and the baby didn’t make it. I was absolutely heart broken and am in absolute awe of the strength my cousin is showing in this difficult time. To me she is a pillar of everything I preach. She has reacted to this circumstance with love and hope. She didn’t curse God, but was thankful for the few memories she did get to make. She isn’t bitter, cursing life, or looking to sue the hospital like the other 55% of America. Should we say that she had limiting beliefs? She expected the worse? Maybe she didn’t vision board correctly? Hell no! Sometimes situations are just totally out of your control and to think that we can fix it or magically manifest a different life is plain lunacy.
The second occurrence was the two tragic suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. I am so sorry to their families and the world for their losses. It was an eye opening experience for me because I’m always striving to “make it” creatively. But these two people did just that, and at the end of the day those circumstances didn’t bring true happiness. So as great as booking an acting gig or selling a script would be, I also learned that I need to work on making myself happy right now regardless.
And as weird as it is to say this, my new serving job and sommelier venture make me happy. I feel more secure about the bills, which gives me the mental energy to get back into my creative ventures. I’ve decided I’m starting to write a novel just because I want to. And get back to playing the guitar. And travelling. And generally living my life to HAVE FUN. Because I’m sure that’s what God wants anyway. I’ll just let him take over all that other creative stuff, me worrying about it OBVIOUSLY isn’t getting me anywhere. I believe this part of the enlightened process is called SURRENDER. I’m just gonna call it summer break. Because remember how fun it was when you were 10 and June hit and you didn’t have to think about anything???
I’ll leave you with this. When I was lamenting to my acting teacher about getting another serving job, and fearing it meant I was a failure, he gave me some good advice. “Sometimes in order to take two steps forward, you have to take one step back.” This is still just the beginning of my adventure and making sure I’m financially secure doesn’t make me a failure, it makes me not homeless. It made me feel much better, especially when everyone else in my class backed this up and told me it was totally OK. Because after all, as actors they were all servers, too.