Nothing can stop me.

Feb 13, 2016 by

Hello.

It’s been a long time since I have written a blog post.  I’m not going to apologize, because that would be weird and pointless.  It’s my blog.  I’m busy.  You know all that.  But I am writing today, because this is the virtual space where I feel comfortable being vulnerable.  I guess it’s because my name is in the URL.  Who knows?  I have something I want to express today, and this feels like the correct place for it to live.

(This is going to get really awkwardly personal before it gets triumphant, but stay with me, we’ll get there.)

I’m almost halfway through my last semester at Juilliard.  Remember when I got into Juilliard?  That was  a great day.  Damn.  But now I’m wrapping up my time there, and spending a lot of time wondering what my identity will be in June.  Where do I go from here?  Am I, career-wise, in the spot I’m supposed to be in, relative to my classmates?  How much anxiety is a normal amount of anxiety?  These are all questions I ask myself a lot, and they don’t have answers.  Most of time I’m so busy working that the questions don’t bother me too much, because I don’t really have time for them.  But every once in a while, lying in bed at night, or on a long subway ride, or standing in front of my locker at school, the questions assault me, and the dark voice in my head shouts louder than the calm voice.

You’re fooling yourself.

You’re falling behind.

You’re getting rejected more than your classmates.

You’ve only got 22% of the opportunities that men have in this industry, and there’s nothing you can do about that.

There are no guarantees you’ll ever be successful, or even able to pay your bills.

You’ve risked your livelihood, and your husband’s, and your marriage, and everyone’s faith in you, chasing a job that’s not real in a city that doesn’t care.

NOBODY WANTS YOU.

This week that voice was very, very loud.  I got five rejection letters in five days, one every single afternoon, from five opportunities I really, really wanted.  Five avenues that would have given me some direction next year, to make me feel like I’m not stepping out of Juilliard and into an abyss.  Five opportunities I applied for with the enthusiastic encouragement of the people around me, and in some cases, the people running the programs.  But, ultimately, five doors that remain shut.  Five proposals that weren’t quite (or at all) what was wanted.  Five projects other people aren’t as excited about as I am.  Five “N”s on my spreadsheet (because of course I track my submissions on a spreadsheet, guys, do you know me?).

Five is not a large number in the grand scheme of the universe, but five rejections in five days will take the wind out of your sails, I don’t care who you are.  Especially when they were five things you really wanted, that didn’t seem like long shots when you applied.  Especially when I look at my spreadsheet to plug in that fifth “N,” and look at the column for 2015 applications, and realize… I haven’t gotten a single one.  Nothing.  There are a few things I’m waiting to hear back about, but of the ones I have, which is 95% of the things I applied for in the year 2015, every. single. one. is. no.  A long, straight, column of “N”s.

 

Did you think this would be easy because you love it so much?

Do you think that just because you go to Juilliard, that makes you talented?

Nobody owes you anything.

Ouch, dark voice.  Tell me how you really feel.

I’m not here to throw a pity party for myself.  I did that last night, with some red wine and some Magnolia Bakery cupcakes, and a few good friends with sympathetic ears.  I let myself wallow in what I was feeling, and that’s over now.  It’s a necessary part of the process, but not a very efficient use of time.

I’m not writing this to complain about things being unfair.  The theatre industry is unfair.  Life is unfair.  I can’t know why the decisions were made that were made about the programs I’ve been rejected from.  It’s not my place to know.  The people who run those programs are smart people, and the ones I know, I really like.  Nothing in this world is based on “fair,” but that’s not news.

I’m not here because I want you to tell me how awesome I am.  If you’re reading this, you’re probably my friend, and I love you for having the impulse to tell me that my work is great.  I do love you.  And my work IS GREAT.  I believe in myself and my ability to tell stories.  What I doubt sometimes is my ability to make a life where I’ll have chances to use my talents.  Thanks, if you’re thinking that I need encouragement.  You are kind and wonderful.  But that’s not the point.

Look at how smug I am. I am undaunted.

Look at how smug I am.
I am undaunted.

I’m here, writing this, because just as the rug was being pulled out from under me, I had a thought that made me able to stomp my foot down HARD and keep from falling.  And I want to share that thought with you, in case it’s helpful in your life.

But before I share that thought, I gotta tell you more about my week.  All week, I’ve been assisting on a workshop of a (literally) gigantic new Broadway musical.  It’s been an honor for me to be in that room, observing and learning.  Yesterday, I was the only member of the writing team there, and I was able to clear up some confusion that arose about the script and get us back on track.  I was proud of myself, and I get to be in that room all week next week, too.

This weekend, I’m working on a draft of a new play that’s got a production coming up.  Actors and designers and the director are waiting for this draft, because rehearsals start soon.  They believe in me.  They believe in what I’m writing, and they’re waiting for it, because they believe an audience will love it, too.

Also this weekend, there are three more submissions I need to finish, for three more opportunities.  Three more avenues that will give me a direction next year, and make me feel like I’m not stepping out of Juilliard and into an abyss.  Three more doors that are there for me to knock on, that I’m going to knock on, because I know I’m good enough.

And that’s why, weighing all those things that are TRUE RIGHT NOW, I was able to look at my email inbox this morning and say to those five rejections: “Nothing can stop me.  I’m already doing it.” 

I said it five times, as I archived those rejections.  I said it out loud, alone in my apartment, and every time I said it out loud, I felt stronger and stronger.

Because if “it” is having a life in the theatre, then I’m already doing it.  I don’t need anyone’s permission.  I don’t need anyone’s blessing.  I gave myself permission.  I have the blessing of the universe.  And I’m already doing it.  I’m well on my way, and I won’t be stopped by 5, or 500, or 5000 emails.  They aren’t doors shut in my face, they’re just exits off this road that I’m driving past.  Maybe one day I’ll drive past these exits again and the time will be right to take them, but right now, that’s not where I’m headed.

So, if you’re coming up against something similar in your life right now, and you want to use these magic words to kind of wipe off the dirty windshield and refocus (I’ll stop belaboring this car metaphor now), please take and use them.  Feel free to change the subject of the sentence to whatever works best for you.

Nothing can stop me.  I’m already doing it.

Nobody can stop me.  I’m already doing it.

You can’t stop me.  I’m already doing it.

Because in the end, the thing you do for your soul, the way you move the universe, that’s never between you and “them,” anyway.

2 Comments

  1. Jean Marcantel

    You have NO idea how much I love you. And, yes, I am smiling through my tears.

  2. Annie Purcell

    I want to Thank You, for sharing this. I’m grateful to have read it, and it will indeed help me today. You don’t need to hear it, but I think you are a wonderful writer, and I’m delighted to have even done a reading of one of your plays. You should know that as you are opening letters, full of hope, actors are Hoping for the opportunity to GET to do one of your plays someday. Love to you. Keep on doing what you’re already DOING, and doing brilliantly.

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