POINT TO PONDER
"Maybe the journey isn't so much about becoming anything. Maybe it's about un-becoming everything that isn't you so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place."
REFELCTION by Rajiv Shah
I want to ask you some questions this week. How did you end up where you are right now? How many of you feel you are exactly where you need to be? How many of you feel that you are wanting to reach for something more? How many of you feel that what you do for a living defines who you are? I ask because I used to set yearly goals. I used to do a vision board. Then somewhere along the way I realized that my plan was not the plan life had in store for me.
I started out wanting to be an actor. I set goals every year - how many shows I wanted to be cast in, how many films I was hoping to book, and I strategized how to leverage those goals into better roles down the road. I worked my ass off.
I did everything to make my goals a reality. I gave up on relationships (thinking commitment would get in the way of future work), I worked long hours (often on projects I wasn't really passionate about), and I pumped more money than I had into getting myself where I thought I needed to be.
Then in 2006, I found myself out of work, not acting, broke, and a bit depressed. I didn't know what to do. Acting wasn't panning out but I decided that I needed to push harder. I believed my lack of success was because I wasn't working hard enough. There were people working harder than me and ultimately giving up more than me to achieve their goals. But to be honest, I found the harder I worked, the worse I felt. I was lost.
So I started writing.
I had to be creative and I always liked to write, so I figured I'd give it a shot even though I had never taken a screenwriting class in my life. I wrote a screenplay, not because I wanted to be a writer, but because I wanted to act in what I created. That was my "goal", and just to be clear, that goal didn't pan out in the end either.
However, the more I wrote, the more I found that I liked it and I had something to say. There was a simplicity to it, a clear channel where I could express my thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. It was easy. Fluid. All I had to do was sit down, open my computer, and the words came pouring out of me. I never considered myself a writer or had any plan on doing anything with it. I simply enjoyed it and without forcing myself, I kept on going to the library and let the story tell itself. All I had to do was let my fingers fly over the keyboard for a couple of hours and that was it. Not much more to it than that. I had no clue whether the writing was good or bad and frankly I didn't much care. If it was bad writing, so what? I just wanted to be honest. It was an attiude I didn't have as an actor where all I was concerned about was how "good" I was.
Since then I've found that I do more writing now than acting. I held on so long to what I thought I was: an actor. Even after I sold my first script, I didn't consider myself a writer, and in ways, I still don't. But for some reason I can't explain, I continually do it. For a long time it baffled me why I found "success" in something I never planned on or wanted in the first place. Then I realized it doesn't matter what I want.
It doesn't matter how many goals I set or how I want to define myself. I'm more than that. Once I let go of the things I thought I should have and the places I believed I should be, my whole life opened up for the better. But why? Because for the first time, I didn't have a plan and I was working without a net or a clearly defined set of goals.
Instead, I was listening to life.
Because for whatever reason, life was telling me that acting was not something that was meant for me, not at this time. I didn't want to be a writer, but somehow, the first script I wrote was made into a feature film. On a personal level, for years, I had resisted commitment in relationships because I thought I needed to put that part of my life on hold for my career. But funny enough, once I put my career on hold and became a father in 2012, my career took off in ways I could never have imagined.
I'm happier now, and not because of any "things" I've acquired or any "achievements" that have come my way, but for one simple fact: I'm not trying to "become" anything anymore. I'm happy with who I am, what I am, and where life is taking me. It's not perfect but I now realize that the better version of myself doesn't exist in any dreams, or in the promises of tomorrow. It lives in the here and now. And that’s the only time of which we really have any control.