In this day and age we are all about sticking our necks out and trying something. “You Only Live Once” lately seems to be a commonly used phrase or hashtag. Try something that scares you each day is an encouraging statement that many a self-help guru is chanting. Its not that I don’t believe in any of this—in fact, my life is about taking big leaps and choices, daily. Part of being an actor is continually putting yourself out on the line. I have successfully stuck my neck out in terrifying situations, but found myself the better for it.
It is all nice and fine to sit around and talk about living for today, and putting one’s self out there—again, which I am 120% on the affirmative side. Put your neck out there. Try something new today. Stand up for yourself and make steps in a positive direction: apply for that new job, ask that person out, change careers, change cell phone plans (ok, well maybe that last one is a bit crazy…) I think you should go out and put yourself on the line occasionally. Even if you don’t prosper, it has many benefits. That is what this article is about. It’s all nice and fine to stick your neck out, but what happens during the waiting and after the result?
Let us start at the beginning (and we’ll eventually work through the entire thing). You get an idea from somewhere, and it sits in your brain. Maybe it takes a day, or maybe a year, but it grows in your mind. You wake up one day and decide to stick you’re neck out (yay, you!). Sometimes planning is required, but most times you have talked yourself into whatever it is that you’re trying for long enough, that you’re psyched into taking your chance. You reach out, you take action, you send that resume or email or text or have that conversation. And then, the dreaded waiting happens. The thing that we’re not reminded of when we are encouraged to take a leap, is that there is inevitably a waiting period. Sometimes it’s a short time, sometimes it’s a long time, and the worst is that sometimes it’s indefinite.
Many times when we stick our neck out into the world trying to make ourselves or our situations better, it depends on someone else. Which, handing your life and your future over to someone else is completely terrifying. When I go in for an audition, some days I’m totally confident in my abilities and my knowledge of my material. Other days, I’m full of self-doubt and in a waiting room where I’m the anomaly—which sometimes works to my favor, but at the time makes me feel like even with all the courage, vigor, and verve I woke up with, I look around me and feel like I’m going to fail. Actors, put ourselves out there daily—we basically job interview 365 days a year. I’ve become good at pretending that I’m not feeling like a failure. Some days I ignore the failing feeling. Some days I steer into it, like a sailor into a storm—sometimes I sail through and sometimes, I sink.
You may be saying to yourself at this point—wow, this gal uses the word “some” a LOT in this article. Well, its true. But, isn’t “some” a good word to describe results of taking chances? Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. There isn’t a good ratio for courage. Either it is or it isn’t. It depends on the day of the week, the weather, the amount of coffee someone had that morning. Sure, it also depends on qualifications and chemistry and whether this situation is the right fit. There are so many “what if’s” in taking a chance. Again, let me be clear—TAKE CHANCES. I’m an advocate of them. These fears and hesitations, are what hold us back. They stifle us. They cut us off at the knees. They make us believe we are not good enough to deserve the outcome on the other side, heaven forbid, IF we receive it. Self-doubt is debilitating.
I hope my credibility isn’t ruined when I say this: the truth and the inspiration of this entire article is it was inspired while I was waiting for a text message. My life seemed to be on pause while awaiting a response. This is an extremely silly situation for me to write to the world about—at least in my head. I’m a strong, confident, talented woman and I’m sitting around, feeling like my fate is in someone else’s hands and waiting for a man to give me a “yes” to spending time with me. Yeah, sorry to throw you for that loop—and I wish that this was about sticking my neck out for a job, or my career, or the general betterment of the quality of my life. But its not. Its about a date. Don’t scoff. To be completely honest with you, dating is terrifying for me. I don’t put myself out there that often—at least not in romantic situations. My rejection ratio feels incredibly high. (Yes, everyone has dating or romance issues. Yes, its difficult for most. And really, the chances of finding the wrong person are so much higher than finding the right person.) But we still have to try. Dealing with relationship (or starting one) is just like sticking your neck out in any situation, and vice versa. And as this is one area of my life I have yet to be satisfied with, I continually make myself take chances.
Here I sit, waiting. Writing. Because if there is one thing that Lesley and I believe in is that you can’t just sit around and do nothing. Living is an active verb; you have to go out and do. You truly have to have the courage not only to take the chance, but to patiently wait for the answer to come. I have thrown myself, into what feels like the deep end of the emotional pool and I’m trying to tread the water, but the more I churn my arms, the more it feels like I’m making pudding in the deep end of the pool. So, I’m just waiting, and now stuck in a pudding of my own thoughts. Sigh.
There is a saying that the only thing that you can truly control in your own life are the feelings you have for every situation. So, instead of wallowing in my pudding-like feelings—I walked away and DID some things. I got some great groceries, made dinner, watched a movie, went to bed, got up the next day, went to work, went to my book club, did some yoga, went to bed again, got up the next day… you get the picture. I just keep moving forward. I keep fighting for my own life back, which sounds dramatic, but sometimes the voices in my head are very loud and they give me an awful headache with reasoning and bargaining and analysis over the whole situation.
Whether I got a response or not (I eventually did) this waiting period—or actually, I should call it a “doing period” because I went out and did things and lived my life (even through the onslaught of the voices in my head)—was productive. I wrote this article. I figured out where I really stood in the whatever-this-is with this dude. I painted my toes, I finished a book, I found some great recipes, I exercised, and I conquered another 20 levels on Candy Crush. I’m sure I did some other things, but these were what came to mind just now.
So I started this talking about taking a chance and sticking my neck out… and if you’ve been paying attention, you are probably saying to yourself: wow, nothing really happened. She wrote an article about nothing and I’m still reading it. Well, its not nothing. I did take a chance. I tried to move a relationship in a different direction. I put myself out there. In doing so, I learned things about myself. They were little small things, but I still learned more about me, and how I want to live my life. Because I took a step in a direction, I found out more about that specific direction and where it might lead. In fact a few days later, because I took this little chance, I decided to take another one. I applied for a new job. The same sort of waiting situation occurred while waiting for a response there, too. Because I took one step out of my comfort zone, I realized there were other aspects of my current life I didn’t like. Current being the operative word. You can change anything in your present. You can take steps to cure your own unhappiness. Maybe its right, and maybe its wrong, but because I took a step and stuck my neck out—yes even just for a text, or applying for a job—and then walked away and lived my life, I am all the better for having done it—small though either of these might seem. And even better yet I’ve reaffirmed it is up to me to make the decision as to where I am headed next. So big or small, get out there and stick your neck out in the world.