I have asked myself a few times lately what would happen if suddenly, voila! the stars alligned, angels trumpeted, and I booked a series lead on a television show so that people would recognize me and strike up conversations as I tried to remember if I was out of the Supers or the Regulars while at the Feminine Needs aisle at the grocery store. What would happen if I exited a plane after a 12 hour flight and was harassed by photographers. What would happen when my ass landed on the "Stars With Cellulite!" spread in the celebrity tabloids?
I don't know, but you guys, the thought terrifies me. Not about all those things, but really, what if I actually become successful? I am terrified of becoming successful.
And it's because all I've known for the last few years is the struggle and although I worry about next month's rent and how I'm going to pay for it, I'm used to it. The struggle is all I've known. The struggle is, dare I say it, comfortable.
It's easier to recognize in other people than it is yourself and it's very frustrating. But I understand it: I grew up with a very violent older brother and one day, while in computer lab in second grade, I tucked my knees to my chest in class and the computer teacher asked me how I got those bruises on my legs. I hated my brother. I hated what he did to me, how he hurt me and my sister, but he was also my brother. And I lied and made up a story because I didn't want him to get in trouble. Although it's twisted and fucked up, he was my family, and my family was the only family I knew. Although he hurt me, I protected him. I was loyal.
And this is a cycle abused kids find very hard to break.
And regular people do too.
We get comfortable, we get used to it, we understand it as life as we know it.
When I met the love of my life and he asked if I wanted to see his portfolio, I tried very hard not to roll my eyes when I said sure, why not, because I was pretty sure he wouldn't be any good. I sat on his bed, opened his book, and my jaw dropped. Here was the most amazing image, after image, after image, and when I finally was able to pick my jaw back up, I said, "Why on Earth are you doing caricatures at CityWalk?"
He had worked his way up to manager, was the fastest and most requested artist, had made lots of friends, and grew comfortable. But he wasn't drawing comic books, which is what he had wanted to do since he was six years old.
So, after realizing that this sexy hot piece was also incredibly funny and extremely intelligent, I pushed him because I loved him. I wanted him to take the jump into the unknown and see how far he could go because I knew he was amazing and was worried he settled because he was comfortable. He was. And all he needed was that push. And nagging. And cheerleading, but I was more than happy to do it because I believed in him and his work, and knew that if he was doing comics, he'd be happy.
Flash forward a few years, and he's sitting at a panel at Comic Con, talking about the art he did for Stan Lee's Time Jumper, WITH Stan Motherfuckin Lee.
I also have another friend. Also a struggling actress. And she became comfortable being managed by a person who had once sat her down and said, "I don't know what to do with you," which is polite for, "I'm done trying." She was surrounded by friends who said it was time to let him go and find another person who was excited about her. But she didn't. She can't. She's too loyal. And she's comfortable driving an hour and half to her survival job each day, instead of auditioning for television and film roles from her new manager/agent, because that's what she knows: the struggle. And everytime I see her, I push her, harder and harder and she IS listening; she's putting all her pieces together, slowly, slowly, to get new representation who will work hard for her. But I have to get louder and louder to make sure she hears me, and the volume of my shrieking upsets her cat, who she has to calm down, which makes me think she's ignoring me so I have to shriek louder....Vicious cycle. But I will do this because I believe in her, and I want her to be happy. And the only way to be happy when you're driving an hour and a half is when you are coming home from having worked on set.
We get comfortable in the struggle, and we will let days, weeks, months pass before we look back and think, what the hell did I do with my year? Why am I out here, far away from my family, far away from my hometown, doing a job I hate for a career I want but am too scared to pursue? Because we believe we're not worthy.
Cause success can be terrifying. It's new. It's unchartered territory. Cause, for reals: What will I do with my black Shoes for Crews if I'm not wearing them to my dinner shift?
We will self sabotage over and over again, without fail, so you better believe that you need to find friends who get you, get your dreams, and will cheer lead you on and forward and you best take their advice because they want what's best for you, and they want you to be happy.
But above all, don't forget: you need to want to be happy too. Yes, the unknown is scary, but you can do it. I believe in you.
All you need is to believe in yourself too.