Self-Deprecation: A Big Waste of Everyone’s Time

Something has been on my mind lately.

I know a lot of people that spend a significant amount of time self-deprecating.

“I’m just not that smart.”

“I wish my hair looked like yours.”

“That’s what I get for being short and fat.”

“I’ll never look good no matter how much I diet.”

“I mean, I’m obviously the least intelligent person in this room.”

“Could I be any more useless?”

“What good will it do if I try to communicate my feelings?”

“I’m not worth anyone’s time.”

(S/he says as s/he tries to backtrack the severity of this blanket, self-hate statement with a nervous laugh.)

My Response?

Shut. The hell. Up.

 

I refuse to any longer be the type of friend or family member that pats you on the head and tells you how pretty and perfect you are, despite how horribly you speak about yourself.

Do you know why?

Because I love you.

Because I believe we are so much better than just fishing for compliments.

I believe that there are FAR MORE INTERESTING things to talk about rather than our inability to lose ten pounds.

I believe that we are lovely, capable human beings who (just like every other human on this planet) may go through some awful times, but are courageous enough to put on their big girl pants and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

I believe that we spend so much time worrying and whining about what we aren’t,  that we don’t even get to scratch the surface of everything that we could be.

 

I am SO TIRED of this conversation. I’m tired of hearing it, and I’m tired of it being in my own head.  And you know what? Here’s the thing…

THE VOICES ARE ALWAYS GOING TO BE THERE.

There’s no magical little “off” switch that will suddenly make us feel perfectly confident and content. There will always be a time when we will feel like we aren’t enough. We will fall short. We will be forced to look at ourselves. We will fail.

So, we can choose to dwell on our failings, shamefully staring at our shortcomings OR we can use our failure as fuel.

Let your failure be your motivator.

So, maybe you’re saying “Jessica, the voices are so loud. I always hear them, causing so much anxiety and depression for me. They stunt me and make me feel terrible about myself. They make me want to quit my job and hide in a corner forever.”

I get it. I’ve been there. I’ve been there more often than I would like to admit. But I made the decision that I don’t want to be crying in a corner forever. I want to be useful to my community. I want to know what it’s like to feel like Superwoman. I want to know how to reach my full potential. I chose TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

For me, it’s running, writing, eating well, going to bed early, loving people as hard as I can, and laughing at myself.

Example: I used to hate the fact that I’m tall. Sometimes it is still a source of insecurity, but when it starts to bother me, I make a joke and say “Watch out, here comes the big gorilla” in a stupid voice  we all laugh about it.

The voices can’t control me if I am always aware that I control them.  

But that’s me. That’s my therapy.

For another person, it might be a different story. Maybe it’s taking up an interest like cooking, spending more time with kids, meditating, doing something useful in the community…(I’m a big believer in doing something charitable if you want to stop feeling like a Big Sad Screw-Up. It’s kind of impossible to feel like one when you’re focusing on giving.)

 

But, please. For everyone’s sake.

Find a way to get over it.

Find a way to start embracing the failure, and staring it dead in the face. If it’s something that’s really causing big problems to your health or your relationships, make a change.

Try something new and open your mind to different possibilities.

Ask yourself what you could be if you let go of the bull crap that clouds your head, and go become it.

It’s that simple.

You are in charge of the life that you live.

Whine a little if you have to, but find a way to get over it.

You deserve it.

Here’s a Post with a Whole Lot of CAPS

Hi.

So here’s something about me. I have a degree in Theater. I’m a performer before anything. I sing, I try to tell jokes, and I do musicals. Now, get ready for some news that I’m sure no one knows……

THIS IS NOT A WAY TO MAKE A LIVING.

I mean, it can be… but you have to have the right look, the right talent, the right agent, the right connections, and be in the right place/ right time CONSTANTLY. I’m going to be real with you for a second… I DONT HAVE THAT KIND OF STAMINA OR SUPPORT TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN. I’m sensitive, and frankly I like a lot of other things. I could never focus on my writing, my running habit, or my friends/ family if I was living the Broadway actor life 24/7. I’d love it if an audition really worked out and I got a great job out of it. But I’m not going to break my back and heart day in and day out praying that something will work out when there are ten thousand other girls just like me doing the same damn thing. I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing, audition when it’s right, take amazing classes, go to shows, meet new people, and hopefully continue to make American dollars in places that I love.

So, in the meantime, I just need a job (or jobs) that make me happy and pay my bills. I’m about halfway there with that one. (Happiness? Check. Pays the bills? Almost check.)  So, I have to have what I like to call “A Patchwork of Jobs” in order to kinda sorta survive. There was a time in my life when I had six jobs at once. (200 dollars here, 350 dollars there…) I was able to make it work for a year, but I couldn’t do it after that. It was exhausting and I couldn’t enjoy my life because I was too tired.

So…. something that happens frequently is the fluctuation of jobs. In my position, i HAVE to take opportunities for employment. I HAVE to say yes to the things that will give me the most in return– the most money, the best time slot, the most benefits (financial or otherwise). And sometimes I have to turn things down and/or switch things up. A lot of employers in this industry understand this. (Thank you to my amazing bosses who have stuck with me and my schedule for a while now. You know who you are) But some of them… HOLY CRAP they will have NOTHING TO DO with those schedule changes.

Today I was yelled at (via email) and was called unprofessional for regretfully stating that I would not be able to fulfill my duties in a previously accepted position. I was apologetic and honest. I potentially have something else in the works that will pay me way more, plus, I don’t want to suddenly find myself with six jobs again. Having that many plates spinning is TERRIBLE and makes me USELESS as an employee because I’m TIRED and SICK constantly. Mind you, I hand’t even signed any paperwork yet with this potential employer. I have had ONE MEETING with this person, in which they hired me WITHOUT EVEN LOOKING AT MY RESUME. I have NOT started this job yet and did not want to have to suddenly quit after already starting my duties. So I thought I did the responsible thing by apologizing, and stating that I won’t be able to do this job.

The beginning of the reply from this employer was an all-caps “ARE YOU KIDDING ME???” followed by a description of my lack of tact.

Wow.

Now, obviously I dodged a bullet here in not working with this person… but the voices in my head are still creeping up.

You’re so unreliable.”

“Stop making promises you can’t keep.” 

“You’re incredibly irresponsible and unprofessional.” 

“This is why you can’t make it in this business. You’re too flighty.” 

“Just get used to being broke and messing up people’s lives. This is who you are.” 

SHUT UP SAD DRAGON! SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP!

I am desperately trying to realize that this is a reflection on someone else. As an employer, this person should understand. There is nothing this person can do to change the situation, so what good does it do anyone to yell at me via email? Obviously this person simply wants to make me feel like s*** before she carries on with her day. That’s the only result possible from this. Even if they are disappointed and pissed off (and they’re totally allowed to be!) isn’t the right thing to do to just say “Thank you” and move on?  That’s what I’m trying to tell myself, but it’s still difficult. Very difficult.

Just wanted to share because fighting the Dragon is a never ending process. You can’t kill it. You just have to keep training it.

Fear, My Dear Old Friend

Fear, My Dear Old Friend

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Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to take a class at The Second City, Hollywood for free at their open house. I took a two-hour Musical Theater Improvisation Class. (I also like to call it Heaven.)

I shared the afternoon with about twenty other wonderfully brave individuals who wanted to explore one of the most terrifying art forms ever created.  It takes a specific type of weirdo to be able to get up in front of a group of strangers and sing a song that has no established melody, no established words, and no established story. You have to make it up. You have to trust that the people around you will support and contribute to your song. And the only way to learn or get better, is to get over your mental road blocks, trust yourself, and recognize that you are not going to die. And it is TERRIFYING.

Now, I have been lucky. I have been fortunate that my life and my training has taken me to this point. This point in which I know that getting on stage, choosing a character, and trusting myself is a better choice than letting fear take over. I have been lucky that I was taught to fight against my nerves, and to ignore the concern of whether or not I will be “good enough” on stage. But that took a lot of practice and patience.

That being said, I have been having so much trouble watching my peers, colleagues, and friends give in to their mental roadblocks on stage. I have been watching many performers lately in classes, auditions, and karaoke nights, succumbing to their fear. I can see in their eyes the message “I DO NOT DESERVE TO BE HERE,” “PLEASE GET ME OFF THIS STAGE,” “WHY AM I NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO SHARE THIS SPACE WITH YOU?”… And thus, the story becomes about those messages behind their eyes. The audience’s experience (if they are supportive) is being on the edge of their seats, hoping that this individual succeeds in getting through to the end of the scene, rather than the story the player is so desperately trying to tell.

Furthermore, I keep seeing this fear-mentality in people who are not performers as well. People who are too afraid to go for a new relationship, or talk to a stranger, or quit the job that they hate, or end a toxic relationship, or go on a trip to see new things. They always seem to come up with a reason why they are afraid, or why they don’t deserve that thing they want to go after, which is really outrageously silly.

Why do we do this to ourselves? And not just performers, but people? Why do some people with strong Sad Dragons walk into a space, or approach a new situation with deep inferiority? Most people with these types of Sad Dragons can tell you why.

“It was my upbringing.”

“It’s just in my blood.”

“I’m destined to be a depressed person, so there you go.”

“I’m going through a lot right now, so I just feel self-conscious all the time.”

“I’m not smart enough.”

“I’m not pretty enough.”

“I’m not talented enough.”

“I’m not thin enough.”

“I AM NOT ENOUGH.”

I empathize with these statements. They’re in my head all the time too. And these statements can either be speed bumps, stop signs, or straight-up brick walls in the way of a person’s joy. There’s no way on this planet I could have gotten up to sing improv if I listened to all of the voices in my head, and accepted them as truth.

My solution? Practice Accepting the Inner Monologue of the Sad Dragon, Noticing it’s Presence, and Using it for Motivation to Move. 

Negativity and self-doubt ARE in your head for a reason, but they don’t have to be manifested into a Stop Sign or a Brick Wall. Let’s explore further.

Let’s say you have a mental roadblock with running your first 5K.

Sad Dragon: “I will never be good enough to pull this off. I am too unhealthy and I will never have enough motivation to look as good as everyone else out there. I tried once before, and I’m going to fail again, so why try?” 

That’s some nasty mind-language. How can you change it?

Step 1: START THE THING. Put on your running shoes and go outside, even if you feel like crap about it.

Step 2: DO THE THING. Start moving. Even if it’s just a walk. Just go.

Step 3: SAY HI TO THE DRAGON Acknowledge your Sad Dragon’s monologue in your head. Say hello to it, and try to separate your emotions from it. Remember, you are NOT your Sad Dragon. It’s just one little piece of you.

Step 4: DONT STOP DOING THE THING  Keep moving.

Step 5: THANK THE DRAGON Give that sad language a mental hug and THANK IT. Offer it some GRATITUDE for being there to give you the motivation to get outside and try something that’s hard. (Because remember, you’re already outside, aren’t you?)

Step 6: CHANGE THE DRAGON’S LANGUAGE (This is the tough part, so be patient with yourself.)  The hard part is to switch the language in your head. “I acknowledge that I don’t feel as healthy as I would like to be, and that’s why I have these negative feelings about myself. But I signed up for a 5K which is a step in the right direction. I am so glad I took this chance on myself because I am giving myself an opportunity to grow.”

Step 7: LEARN AS MUCH ABOUT THE THING AS YOU CAN Do your homework, and find new ways to improve and get motivated. For this case, get a new running app, subscribe to a blog, or find a super fun race you can do with a buddy.

Step 8: KICK SOME ASS Run your race and watch change happen.

Never EVER EVVEEERRR let fear or self-doubt stop you from running after something that you want or need. No matter how small that little thing is, you will never get to sing your song for others if you’re too scared. Your voice matters. So give your Sad Dragon a hug, tell it to speak the right language, and give yourself the chance to sing your face off.

Keep training, my friends.

The Day I Got to Slay a Dragon

The Day I Got to Slay a Dragon
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Every once in a while I truly feel like God, the Universe, Destiny, the Higher Power (whatever it is you prefer to call it) taps me on the shoulder and says “Hello.” This story we performed at work made me pause, for obvious reasons.
I work for a children’s theater company that takes story submissions from schools, and then surprises the authors by bringing their stories to life. It’s a really fun, creative job. And I get to play a myriad of different characters in a single day!
Now, the fact that I got to play the girl, and not the dragon was magical indeed. I’m tall. I have long, lanky limbs, and a big loud voice. Thus, I usually have to play the dragon. But on this day I got to be the little girl. Mia. The Dragon Slayer. Yes, I was performing for a bunch of little kids. Yes, it was really silly as I pretended to shove an imaginary sword through my scene partner while he pretended to light the city on fire.
But, damn, did I feel like a badass playing that character.
My favorite part of this child’s story is:
She got her armor on and went to slay the dragon. She tried but she knew she couldn’t do it. Although she knew that if she didn’t it would terrorize the city.”
It’s quite a no-brainer concept, but it speaks volumes to me and the story I’m attempting to write for my life.
Then, she said to herself ‘I can’t let that happen’ so she didn’t give up.” 
SHE DIDNT GIVE UP. 
Even this little eight-year-old girl gets it! She understands in her sweet, young mind, that we have to do something to stand up to evil when no one else is willing to stand up! She understands that it’s ok for us to have doubts about our abilities. She understands that we need to stop self-doubting because others need us to put on our amor. Or our big girl pants. And she understands that when we fight, incredible results will come from them.
It’s amazing to me how much we innately understand about ourselves when we are young, and yet as we get older, we get affected by the world and start overcomplicating our lives.
We give up on relationships.
We get lazy.
We stop imagining.
We stop believing in the vibrancy of existence.
We give up.
When I was a little girl, I remember putting on dresses, prancing around my living room, and feeling like the most gorgeous creature on the planet. I dreamed of being strong and of running free in open meadows. And then I became a teenager, and got angry, and got interested in boys, and started caring about what other people thought of me, instead of living my own damn life. I chose not to fight the dragons of my city anymore, because it was more important to impress boys, or impress teachers, or impress parents. Life was about proving a point, rather than fighting for what truly mattered.
Stupid dragons trying to mess up my village for me.
I just don’t have the patience for that crap anymore.
I encourage everyone to think like they did when they were young. Spend some time thinking about what your life might look like if you un-learn all of the crap and self-hatred and dejectedness.
Even when things get ugly and stupid, DONT GIVE UP.
It’s one thing when the Dragon is terrorizing you. But when it goes rogue, you better put your armor on and fight that thing.
You never know who is depending on you.
Until next time, friends!