Thursday, May 21, 2009

To The Naysayers, I Say 'Nay' ...

It has taken me almost a lifetime to get here.

My lifetime to date, that is.

But my psyche, at long last, is pulling into the station of self.

Put another way, to those who try to quash my dreams before they're even fully formed, I am putting my fingers in my ears and saying, loudly, "La la la la! I can't hear you! I can't hear you!"

Years ago, after my last newspaper gig went away because the parent company decided to divest itself of all of its newspaper holdings – I was part of the bleeding edge and lost my job years before the current newsroom massacres; lucky me! – I was at a party and a friend of the family asked me what I was doing, employment-wise.

I told her I was freelancing, to which she replied, consolingly, "Well, I guess that's fine until you get a real job."

Thanks for the invalidation! Have a nice day!

Yesterday, a friend forwarded a reply he'd gotten from an agent in Los Angeles. What the agent had to say wasn't mean. It was honest. It was his opinion. It was also pragmatic. Acting – in Hollywood – has got to be one of the hardest careers in the world to crack. Or any other entertainment endeavor, for that matter.

Some guy named Kris won "American Idol" last night. (I don't watch the show, but I know that much.) And how many thousands of people tried out for the season that just ended? In the immortal words of "Highlander," "There can be only one."

Like weekly winners of big lottery prizes.

Or egg-fertilizing sperm.

Anyway, the point is, my friend was disheartened. And I wrote back to him to say that he'll press on.

Or he won't. That's his choice.

But if he's going to let one person instantly erect an insurmountable brick wall in front of him, well, then, he doesn't really want his dream badly enough, I reckon.

And for too long, I was just like that. I was far too quick to let another's opinion derail my plans. If someone said, "It can't be done," I took their words to heart.

It took me a long time to realize that they might be saying not "It can't be done" but "I can't do it, so I don't want you to be able to, either."

Well, not to put too fine a point on it, but screw that.

I wasn't in the habit of looking to my Starbucks cups for life guidance, but sometime last year, my eyes fell on the name "Keith Olbermann" on the cup in my hand, so I slid the coffee sleeve down to read what was hidden behind it.

And I read: "Don't take it personally when they say 'no' — they may not be smart enough to say 'yes.' "

How do you like them apples?

That's not to say that the people in my life aren't smart. But everyone has their own perspectives and strengths and I was doing myself a great disservice, seeking validation of my ideas in others.

Sure, I value input and guidance, but unless I'm in mortal danger, I don't value anyone telling me not to do something before they fully understand what it is I want to attempt or how I plan to go about it.

Will I succeed spectacularly at everything I attempt? No, probably not. But what a shame to give up from the get-go.

The notion that I could walk 60 miles in a weekend used to seem a little ludicrous until I did it. And now I'm gearing up for my 6th 3-Day.

Years ago, I took the Mensa exam on a lark, just to see if I could pass. Leaving the test session that night, I was sure I wasn't Mensa material. Until the mail arrived a few days later with an offer to join.

Which isn't meant as braggadocio. Everyone has similar experiences, fears they thought they couldn't conquer, grades they thought they couldn't earn. Until they did.

Sometimes, you're your own loudest naysayer. Sometimes, it's really hard to get out of your own way. Until you do.

5 Comments:

Blogger Aimes said...

Beth,

I so love this.

A

11:12 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Thanks, doll. Me, too.

xo

1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go Beth!

There's a saying that those who can do, those who can't teach. I don't wholly subscribe to that because I have had some excellent teachers, but I tend to dwell on the do part a whole lot more than the teach.

It's your turn to do.

5:27 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Here, here, Anon! I, too, had some excellent teachers – some are friends to this day – who did more than teach, they made profound impacts on my life.

But indeed, it is my turn to do! I think I need more caffeine!

5:30 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:30 PM  

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