“You are so confident! You’re hilarious! You’re so fit!”
Words are pretty, but without firm belief in them, they’re simply a string of letters and lies.
Life is about constant reinvention, constant tweaks, constant twists and turns that propel us forward. However, an outdated view of oneself can keep us in a roundabout of sameness and stagnation. How do we pass our expiration date and get into the position of living as a former self? We reinforce our outdated view by doing one of two things:
1.) We get comfortable – whether it is in a relationship, job, home, or a simple daily routine.
By nature, we are creatures of habit – especially as we get older. We strive for our “place” and then when we get there, we get sedentary. And when we get comfortable, we start to lose the need to be self-aware. We don’t need to rely on our spark anymore, because we are where we’re comfortable being. Your life is relatively stress and drama-free. Or on the flip side, you’ve become so used to turmoil and sadness that you feel you know how to navigate it. Why take a chance or think outside of the box when the road might not be familiar? I once asked a dear friend, who was making a crossroads-esque decision and used to existing in a hurricane of despair, if he ever thought that maybe he deserved to be happy. Turns out, it had never really crossed his mind.
2.) We fashion crutches out of our damages.
I’m damaged. You’re damaged. We are all damaged. No one is immune to damage. What differentiates us is if you are affected by that damage. If you use familiar, second-rate adjectives to describe yourself, then it is easy to use those as a crutch and a means of avoidance. Excuses are an easy way out of what could be a life changing experience, whether that be positive or negative. You say you are uncoordinated. Are you really still the same uncoordinated kid you were in first grade, or are you using your “lack” of coordination as a way to avoid stepping into an exercise studio? The affectation becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I find it ironic that I am writing this article in the exact place I met with a manager of mine almost exactly five years ago to the day. I was a young actress and model, getting work but not fully believing it was meant to be mine. I was surrounded by friends who were more funny, more unique, more outgoing, more marketable, more talented and WAY more athletic. Or so I thought. I learned to silence my individuality simply because it didn’t seem like I could have it all. I was “shy”. I was “prim”. I was “cute”. And I was comfortable buying into this version of myself for a very, very long time. Turns out, I am quirky, outgoing, funny and – hold your horses – an athlete! Who’da thunk?! I still laugh on the inside when someone describes me as such…but I’ve learned to believe it rather than let the familiar outdated self negate it.
As actors, we learn to write our bios – basically a resume-meets-life-story. It can be awkward to write about oneself, especially if you are living in an outdated view of yourself. After you finish reading this (or while you’re still browsing The Chalkboard, if you’re a multitasking rockstar), take out a sheet of paper, open a Word document, find the back of an envelope, whatever – and start writing. Visualize yourself from the outside. Allow yourself to have an out of body experience. Your former self – shy, unhealthy, whatever – what would that version of you say if she was commissioned to write your bio? And start writing. Sell yourself to the world around you.
Turns out, you are energetic. You are gregarious. You are charming. You are well-liked and introspective. You are quirky. You are fit. You are someone your outdated self would have been slightly intimidated by.
Breaking out of our former selves takes a conscious effort. It is not about seeking out change or manipulating yourself to be something new and fresh. It is about honesty. It is about having a clear view of who you are in this moment, and how you differ from that person you once were. And when you break out of that outdated version of yourself, when you press that “refresh” button – that is when you are truly able to break out of the mundane and into the extraordinary.