Thursday, March 28, 2013

Update #6: These Years Have Not Been Wasted

"The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive." - J.K. Rowling

Finally got my email from NYU yesterday...I'm going to call it my "release" letter.

An odd feeling came over me as soon as I read these words:

"I want to thank you for applying to the NYU Graduate Acting Program this year.  We have nearly finished with our process of selecting the class of 2016, and we are releasing those who, like yourself, were in a pool of people who remained, after auditioning nearly 800 actors."


I have been released.


After four years of unwavering focus and effort to obtain a goal that meant so much to me, I am being set free.

I thought that at this point I'd be sad, but I wasn't. I mean, my ego was bruised, certainly. It would have felt great to my ego to be one of the "chosen." But will that ego boost sustain me through the next three years of grad school and approximately $180,000 in debt?....Nope.

And then the strangest thing shoulders relaxed and I felt energized, excited to be alive. Who knows what's going to be next for me? But I know one thing that will not be happening for me: grad school.

Hooray! (No JOKE.) Hooray!

I knew that I had really given this application process my ALL (FOUR YEARS of my all), trying and applying to make it into one of the top grad schools in the country (NYU, Yale, Juilliard, USD).

And now it is over. It is out of my system.

What I mean to say is...If you haven't already gotten ahead of my train-of-thought here... I will not be auditioning for grad school next year.

Whew! What a RELIEF!!!

And then the negative self-talk starts to speak up..."Oh, man! Am I a total loser or what? Everyone who reads my blog knows that this is the thing that I set out to do...and now I have to admit that it didn't happen...again! What will they think of me? What do I think of me? Am I giving up? Am I a quitter? Ugh! What did I do all this for? Does this mean I have wasted these past four years pursuing this path?"

"Robert McKee says great storytellers often don't hit their stride until later in life because they have to have spent a massive number of house mastering the craft; they also need to have lived enough outside the pursuit of their craft to have something worth saying -- either that or they must have devoted them selves to going deep inside to cultivate what McKee calls a "ruthless self-knowledge" that they can draw upon...It takes years to master a craft, from building a business to writing music. But craft alone doesn't get you there. Genius requires craft plus insight." - Jonathan Fields, Uncertainty

Note to self: these years have not been wasted.

What I have been gaining throughout this process is some f#^ing RUTHLESS self-knowledge. And, right now, I do feel like I have something to say about it. (Hence this blog.)

Life outside of "the craft," well, that's been kicking my ass in ways that (I think) only being a single girl in NYC can. So there's more ruthless self-knowledge there.

As for "the craft," I will continue to study and work and pursue mastery of the craft of acting my whole life, because I love it and because it's fun.

So, for now, I'm going back to zero, to the drawing board, to the beginning, to whatever-you-want-to-call it and starting from scratch again...But not with an attitude of defeat, but with an attitude of HOPE.

I can take all this ruthless self-knowledge and resiliency that I've learned from this four-year smack-down and use it to create some success somewhere else in my life and in my career.

Here are some starting-from-scratch questions for me (for all of us):

What do you want to create? 

What if you succeed? What would that be like? 

What does your new story line of success look like to you?

"See it, feel it, touch it, smell it, taste it. Make it as sensory and alive as possible. Picture yourself in that place. What are you working on? With whom? Where are you? What does your day look like? For some it's possible to get very specific. For others, especially in the earliest stages of an endear, it's more about bigger-picture qualities. If you feel compelled to create great art, you may not have a clear picture of the vehicle or medium quite yet, but you can imagine how it will feel to create and present art that moves people...If you're and entrepreneur, you may not know what you're going to crate or how you're going to solve the problems of the marketplace, but you can envision what it will feel and look like to have crated a solution that blows peoples' minds and changes their lives, to have created an organization steeped in mentoring and compassion and a culture of joy, innovation, and energy. You can imagine where your workplace will be and what it will look like once you've accomplished what you dream of doing. Paint the picture. Make it real. And make that your predominant story line." - Jonathan Fields, Uncertainty

Happy dreaming!

Thanks for reading and for all of your support and encouragement through this entire (crazy) process.

Hope your next chapter is filled with every imaginable joy and...


All the best,

P.S. For those of you that are still trying to figure out for yourself...if you want to stick it out or if you are ready to move on, I'd like to recommend Seth Godin's book The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When To Quit (And When To Stick). It won't give you any answers, but it'll ask you some AMAZING questions...and the answers you will find inside yourself.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Update #5: Silver Linings

“When life gives you lemons, you don't make lemonade. You use the seeds to plant a whole orchard - an entire franchise! Or you could just...drink lemonade someone else has made, from a can.” - Anton St. Maarten

Hi Kids!

Here's the latest "what's happening with grad school" update for those who are interested...

Yale =  Not happening (old news)
Juilliard = Not happening (old news)
USD Old Globe = Not happening (rejection letter received in the mail yesterday)
NYU = Still Pending (on the waiting list, but not feeling optimistic)

Sooooo....My Old Globe rejection letter was received yesterday.

When I got home, there was a pile of mail sitting on the table and a package from a friend.

I saw the envelope from USD and my heart jumped up into my throat. I knew exactly what it was before opening it.

"F*^k." I said. Actually, it was more like..."F*^kity, f@#kin'-A. Really? F%^k."


Double sigh.

Rip open letter to confirm suspicions.


Scanning...."Thank you for your interest and participation in the application process for fall 2013...blah, blah, blah....We wish we had more positions to offer...wish you well wherever your future plans may take you."



Staring at my shoes.

Holding breath.

Oh, wait for it comes...

Tears.... Welling. And dripping down my cheeks.

Like a baby.

Confirmed. No Old Globe.



Moment of silent, tearful sadness and then I notice the package from my dear old friend sitting on the table. We've known each other since 1st grade and she lives across the country. What could she possibly be sending me? It's not my birthday.

The box is wrapped up like Fort Knox, but when I finally get it open...this is what is enclosed...

A card of encouragement along with a small blank journal.

How did she know???

She gave me permission to post what she wrote inside. I hope that it will be an encouragement to all of you too...that the Universe sends us just what we need at the right time. This definitely helped to soften the blow of disappointment.

How 'bout this? Just think of this as a letter from your old friend to you! Here's what she wrote...

Dear (YOU),

What's that saying? "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade?" All of your inner and outer work you have done and continue to do has a purpose, and I truly believe that hard work (which is just what you have been doing) never goes without success.

When I teach art, I often say that "sometimes the picture we intend to draw doesn't come out the way we want, see or have planned. That can be exponentially frustrating and disappointing, but it doesn't mean we should throw the picture away, or that it isn't good. It may even be possible to turn the picture into something new we hadn't imagined that we really love."

Now is your chance to embrace your amazing, smart, talented, unique, MORE-than-worthy-of-grad-school-or-Broadway-or-any-other-successful-path self and see what new ideas you have may unfold.

I am so proud of you. You are an inspiration and I hope you are proud of yourself.

Believe in yourself...Some of the best artists/performers don't have degrees, they have a strong will and dedication to the fulfillment of their ideas. You already possess these rare qualities, so allow yourself the space to shine.

I am always thinking of you and love you very much old friend.


And then I got an awesome supportive text from another friend with a slightly different kind of perspective...

Imagine you're receiving this one from a respected colleague who has been through it all and has the war-wounds to prove it!

First of all. F*^k them. It's their loss. F&#k 'em in the ear. If they don't like that f^%k 'em in the other ear. Secondly, you're past that bulls#*t. Thirdly, I am happy to talk about it. But I don't think you need mentorship. You need to trust your aesthetic. And go for it. Figure out what you want to say and scream it! Fourthly...F$$k 'em! P.S. Sounds like you are poised at the edge of discovery. Yay for you! Keep up the gallant fight sister!!!

No matter which approach appeals to you the most...Isn't it awesome to have amazing, supportive friends!?

Be grateful for your mentors, heros, champions, companions, partners, friends!!!

Hug them! Love them! Tell them how much you appreciate them right now! Without them...How could we possibly attempt to step outside of our comfort zones and dare greatly!?

There are more silver linings to come. But that's all I have time to write about for now. Thanks for reading.


"Mentoring can play an extraordinary role in cultivating the mind-set needed to take creative risks and keep operating in that anxious place where the best stuff tends to be birthed -- especially when your mentor is someone who's been where you are, lived, breathed, and danced with the same or similar-enough demons and elations, and found a way to harness them to create genius." 
- Jonathan Fields, Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance