I’m an actor. I went to school for it. Got the fancy degree and everything. I love it. I’m good at it. I came out here to LA to do it.
But I have a confession, and it’s this: I haven’t been enjoying the pursuit of my acting career. At all. In fact, I loathe it.
The online submissions. The audition grind. Curling my forbidden forest of a head of hair. Reading for parts that are often degrading as a woman, for stories that I’m not all that invested in. It was suffocating me and totally killing my creativity. And if there’s one thing I gotta do, it’s create. Always. Non-negotiable.
I felt this. But I kept going. I kept scrolling. Role after role with the description SEXY, HOT, MODEL TYPES. And every day, I kept thinking, my god, how boring. How utterly, laughably boring.
Now, there are some totally credible and valuable film projects out there. Tons, in fact. They are being cast every day. And I love them. I crave them. I support them. I want to roll around in them every day for the rest of my life, but goshdarnit, I’m just not willing to sacrifice the bliss of today and all the ones that follow it to get there via the standard process.
And then I had a revolutionary thought: Then don’t. Do something else.
Do something else. It seemed impossible. Too easy. Too hard. Electrifying. Terrifying.
I grappled with it for days. Weeks. I mulled it over. I rolled it around in my mouth, chomped on it ’til I’d squeezed out every last drop of flavor. I journaled. Lost sleep. Drummed on about it to my roommates until their ears were bleeding. But, ultimately, it came down to this simple, radical, jaw-dropping idea that I found in The Desire Map:
How do you want to feel? Do the things that make you feel that way.
Danielle Laporte, divine creator of The Desire Map, calls them your core desired feelings. She has completely revolutionized goal setting with the principle that we’re never chasing the actual goal, we’re actually chasing a feeling we associate with the goal. And she has a whole beautiful, poetic, sexy system to help you find the words that fully capture those feelings you’re chasing and how you want to feel every day, always. You land on 3-5. I recently found mine:
Cozy | Abundance | Luminous | Magical | Expression
Sounds like a pretty delicious existence, right?
I just plain don’t feel like any of those when I’m submitting and auditioning. That’s it, folks. That’s all there is to it. But it was so hard to admit to it.
My ego tried to tell me I’m just lazy, that I don’t want it badly enough. That I’m wasting my degree, my education. It whispered about my parents’ disappointment, my classmates’ sneers all the way from underground Black Box Theaters in NYC.
But worst of all, my heart broke. I felt it the moment I first had the thought. Because even then, I knew. My dream was evolving. It was changing and growing and expanding and morphing. But, as with all change, there were some serious growing pains that came with it. There was a little, bright-eyed girl in me trying to keep up. The one who watches the Oscars and cries, who built entire worlds in the backyard of which she was the leading warrior-turned-princess lady. The one who auditioned for her first play in high school and had her whole world blown right open.
So, I had to be gentle with her. I had to let her warm up to the idea, to the unknown. I had to tell her that she was going to be alright. That she is just as loved sitting in her room, as she is standing behind a podium in a designer gown, holding a glorious, golden statue of a naked man.
I had to tell her that she will most certainly act again. Oh yes, she will. She will still tell stories. She will find her audiences, far and wide. She will create and kindle a luminous existence more magical than any plucked from her past, playdate dreams. She’s just gonna get there a totally, mindblowingly more beautiful way. It will be different. It will manifest in ways she can’t even comprehend yet.
And when she was finally ready to hear me, when the excitement of living a life beyond her wildest dreams–every day, now, not starting on some elusive future date–finally became more inviting than the fear, she blinked the water away from her eyes. She looked up at me, unfolding her legs. She said, “I trust you,” and she took my hand.
I turned down three auditions and had a business meeting for my blog that very same week. I’ve never felt more free.
featured image via calvaryaustin.com