Some people spend a lifetime clocking their non-accomplishments and dreaming of a big break. Here’s how to escape aspirational limbo, even if the only change you make is to your mind-set.
By Abby Ellin [published in July 2010’s Psychology Today].
I have never written a best-selling book.
I have never won a Pulitzer.
I have never reported for 60 Minutes, won a gold medal in gymnastics, or thanked my parents and God as Barbara Streisand handed me my Oscar for Best Actress/Writer/Director.
Who reading this blog wouldn’t hope to have that happen!?!
I do not have a Ph.D. or J.D. Nor, for that matter, did I spend my undergraduate years frolicking amid the ivied walls of Harvard or Yale.
I have only one home, a one-bedroom in New York City. No Tuscan villa. No French chateau. No yurt in Sonoma.
In sum, I am not living the life I expected—the life of, say, Diane Sawyer, Julia Roberts, or better yet, Barack Obama. And this bothers me.
After a certain amount of time pursuing a goal, we all stop and wonder if we’re ever going to get there. We have moments of doubt, moments of fear, moments of shame, and sometimes we reconsider if we even want to continue the pursuit. If you haven’t felt these things yet as a talent, you probably will. If you feel them now, you’re not alone. Staying power directly correlates to success in the business of entertainment, but keeping your head and heart in track together is challenging when viewing our life from a comparison-to-others-more-successful perspective.
It’s not that I think I’m a total loser. I can hold my own at cocktail parties. I can pitch a tent. I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. I have an MFA in creative writing and I authored a book, Teenage Waistland, which was optioned by SONY Pictures.
Wow, she must be amazing!
(Not that it was ever made into a movie.)
Oh. The pain!! So close to success and such a let-down! Why can’t she get a break?!?
I even saved someone’s life once–a woman had pilfered cantaloupe slices from the bulk food section of a supermarket, began choking on them, and turned to me for assistance. I called out, “Heimlich in Aisle 1! We need someone to do the Heimlich in Aisle 1!”
On good days, my psychic resume seems fine. Other times, I’m gripped with the gnawing sensation that I haven’t tapped my full potential, that I’m not operating on all six cylinders, that I’m simply not… [well] enough. On those days I identify with the late Farrah Fawcett, who longed to move past Charlie’s Angels status into serious acting. People laughed—until she did The Burning Bed, which got her nominated for an Emmy award and a Golden Globe.
If we as talent can’t relate to Farrah Fawcett’s struggle to be able to fully spread her wings as an entertainer, there may not be much point in continuing our pursuit. The struggle is hard because the reward is great! Stop and take a moment to consider what Farrah might have been thinking or feeling after being so successful with Charlie’s Angels and before finally having the opportunity to show the world she could do more than they had given her credit for. My best guess is it sounded a lot like what I hear in the office – “I just can’t get a break. Why can’t they see that I can do this?!?” Well, she could, so I’d guess you can, too. Next time you get down because things are difficult, pull Farrah’s tenacious nature out and persevere! Talent all take turns needing and being someone’s muse – I bet she’d say it was all part of the game of a talent’s life!