How many people have been told, “That’s not possible.” “You’re not cut out for this.”
“You should think about doing something else with your life.” “That’s not responsible.”
What if people who have inspired us, encouraged us, entertained us, challenged us or changed the world had listened to the naysayers?
Unfortunately, for too many years I listened to the naysayers.
NAYSAYING STARTS EARLY
To say I hated school is an understatement.
This was especially true when it was time to receive my report card.
In parochial school, report card day was an event. The priests were assigned the job of doling out report cards.
The air was often thick with fear.
Waiting for the priest’s arrival, a chair was positioned in front of the room facing the class. The priest would enter the classroom. We would all rise to show him respect as we welcomed him. He would slowly approach the chair. He would sit down and sternly gaze at the class.
THEN, THE HORROR SHOW BEGAN!
The priest would call up each student one by one. He would proceed to list each subject and the grade that the student received. Anything less than a “B” was the trigger for humiliating the student as lazy and stupid.
I cringed waiting for my name to be called. I excelled in English, Reading and Spelling. I struggled terribly with Math and Science. I could feel his burning anger when he called out those grades.
At an early age, I learned that focusing on weaknesses was more important than focusing on strengths.
My passion helped me escape. I loved the movies and TV. From the age of four, I could recreate characters from TV shows and movies, especially the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz.
I would enter my imaginary world making up stories and acting them out. I lived for those moments.
My family even called me the “little actress.” My Dad made sure that the arts were an integral part of our family life. We would go see plays on Broadway and go to the opera and museums. We would get all dressed up and take the car into the city. Not the subway. The arts were special.
When I announced that I wanted to major in the fine arts, I was not prepared for my parents’ reaction. I was SHOCKED by their response. I was told, “That’s not realistic or responsible. That doesn’t put food on the table!”
My disappointment was evident.
I resolved that I needed to do the responsible thing. Only, I didn’t know what that was for me.
I WAS FRUSTRATED!
I’ve always been a “free spirit”. I wanted to fly. Sadly, my wings were clipped.
With that, so were my dreams.
THINK ABOUT SOME OTHER LINE OF WORK
After working for several years as an administrative assistant, I decided to pursue marketing. I thought it would be creative. Not so much!
I spent much of my time crunching numbers and analyzing them to help develop business strategies. Not my favorite part of the job. But overall, I was good at marketing.
I was working as an assistant marketing manager for a major company. A new Director and Manager were brought in to my department. The Director had it in for me from the beginning. I couldn’t seem to do anything right.
Then, one day he hovered over my cubicle and said, “Come to my office.” I did. He coldly announced that I was being laid off. I was stunned. How could this happen? My business was up!
Later, I met with the Vice President of the division. He said, “You should really think about some other line of work.”
My head was spinning. How could I be laid off? I worked so hard to get into marketing?
I felt like such a failure.
After a few difficult years, I was able to land on my feet. I moved to Memphis and joined Maybelline as a Sr. Marketing Manager on the Mascara business. I thrived! Why? They believed in focusing on a person’s strengths and working with them on any deemed weaknesses.
THEN, A CORPORATE TAKEOVER.
I was relocated back to New York.
During relocation, I sustained a serious knee injury and required surgery. As I was ready to return to work, I was informed I no longer had a job. WHAT!?!
After one more corporate marketing job, ENOUGH WAS ENOUGH!
WHAT DO I DO NOW?
I couldn’t help thinking
I was interviewing for “responsible” jobs in marketing. I had such a knot in my stomach. I couldn’t do it anymore.
Then, something surprising happened.
I started to listen to my inner voice. I put one foot in front of the other and began pursuing my dream of acting.
Only, this time, I didn’t tell anyone. It was bad enough I thought I was crazy. I didn’t need naysayers telling me I was crazy.
As things started to develop, I brought my sister and my niece into my confidence. They were so supportive. My sister has always been there for me. She instinctively knew I was coming into my own.
DREAMS DO COME TRUE
I performed in a showcase in New York City. An agent was there. He called me. He sent me on my first major audition for Law & Order.
I BOOKED IT! It aired March 3, 2004.
That’s the day I told my parents. My sister invited us to her home. She used the ruse of my father and her birthdays to get us there.
I created an invitation out of my professional postcard. I handed it to my parents. They didn’t understand until they saw me perform on TV.
Soon after that, I sold my home, packed my bags and moved to Los Angeles.
To this day, I battle to shut out the naysayers. I’m doing what’s right for me! Now, that’s responsible!
…remember, it’s never too late to go after your dreams!