I’m a bit of a ‘fraidy cat sometimes. I think I’ve lived a lot of my life afraid of failure. I’ve feared not having enough money, not having enough friends, not being smart, not being liked, etc. To my credit I have worked to conquer those fears. I have a lot of amazing friends. I live in L.A. I teach improv at two respected theatres. I have a lot going for me. But I think because my motivation has been primarily fear, I have missed out on some things that would have been good to experience.
First of all, I rarely ever feel satisfied. Why? Who knows for sure, but my guess is because no matter how far I am from fear, I still know it’s back there. Maybe I’m miles away from a particular fear, but I always know it’s headed toward me and therefore I can never rest. It’s like being chased by a single zombie. I know it moves way slower than me, so I can always stay ahead of it, but it’s still there. The best thing to do would be to kill it. Or if that’s not possible, at least see it as something less intense like a bee.
Running away from something necessarily has caused me to look backwards a lot. That’s no way to run. Run toward something. Runners tend to go faster when they’re in competition with other runners as opposed to running alone*. Another problem I have is comparing myself to other runners. I can’t look at it like a race. I need to look at it more like running in a herd. We’ll all get there, but some are just gonna be ahead of me. That’s okay.
It’s hard to stop and enjoy things when I’m worried about something behind me. I have had way less fun as an adult as I think I should have, because I was always worried about working harder to get ahead. And certainly I’m glad that some people do that (like Newton, Einstein, Martin Luther King, etc.), but even those people seemed to be chasing a passion. Einstein needed to solve his equations. It gave him life and energy. Me on the other hand has done a lot of things in hopes that I could find happiness later rather than feeling any during the process. Running from my fear has not allowed me to stop and enjoy the view and there are some amazing things to see along the way.
My direction has been dictated by something other than me. If I could go back in time, I’d double major in film and physics. Why? Not because I have an idea of a job in mind that those combinations of degrees would get me, but rather those two things interest me more than most anything else. And I would love to spend four years learning about things I love. And I bet that process would allow me to make discoveries about myself that I likely missed out in college, because I was fixed on the outcome. The outcome – as I reasoned it – would get me a job which would alleviate the worry of not being successful. Terrible.
My mother taught me a lesson I took to heart, “Do your homework now and then you can play later without worrying about it.” I still think this is a good lesson, but I mapped it onto life in a way that robs the lesson from it’s intent. The intent is to help you to get your work done so you can relax and enjoy part of your day without the splinter of the worry about needing to do work later. At least I think that’s what it is. I applied that lesson to my whole life. Meaning I would buckle down and do whatever I needed to (my adult homework) now and then after I got cast on a sitcom or a touring troupe or something like that then I could relax. But homework is a short term achievable goal. Getting cast in something is not always in one’s control at all or a short process.
I got cast in a lot of things that are fairly impressive. But I never got the touring gig I wanted. I never got the stage I wanted. AS of yet, I’ve not gotten a commercial or a TV show or anything like that. It’s too much to expect me to buckle down and do my homework forever. Life needs to be lived and worked. I’ve done a lot of the working, but not a lot of the living. There’s a balance (yin and yang anyone?) that I did not live in. And that’s probably why I would ‘waste’ my time off by just sitting in front of Netflix for hours and hours on end. Sure, the shows I watch are awesome, but I also long for that relaxing escape so much, because I let my work life become nearly void of fun. And I’m a freakin’ actor. Most of my ‘work’ in my adult life has been either teaching performers or performing myself. How in the world did I manage to turn that into work?
I’m proud of myself for being able to do it, but I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I should have. My new goal is to chase the fun. What do I love about performing? Chase that. What do I love about writing? Chase that. When I need money, I’ll do a job I don’t like if I have to. But I won’t feel defeated by it, but rather look at it as short term homework. I’ll do it for a little while and play the rest of the day. And hopefully later on I’ll turn my fun into my paying gigs. As many have said before, “Love what you do and you’ll never work another day in your life.” How can I ever expect to do that if I don’t chase the fun and realize that there’s fun to be had in the here and now. I don’t need to be a millionaire (I still wanna be) to have fun. I can have a blast doing a free improv show.
So, my shift in life is going to be focusing more on what’s fun and what’s in front of me rather than worry about what (if anything) is coming to get me. There may be boogeymen in the closet, but until they come out, I can’t really worry about them. It’s hindering my sleep. I picture my new life as a greyhound on a track chasing after that thing the pull in front of them. Dunno what it is for them, but for me it’s the representation of fun.
*-Article to back that statement: http://tinyurl.com/n6r6jva