(originally posted on www.createdbychance.blogspot.com on 11/24/14)
I made a terrible realization the other day. I realized that I assume I will fail.
I’ve been an actor for 20 years. I studied for 7 years with some of the best teachers in the country. I worked on my skills, honed my talent, paid my money for all the tools I would need to have a successful career, and success has been nothing but elusive. Every time I’m about to get to the next level, a brick wall is thrown up in front of me. Nothing about being an artist has been easy for me. So my default setting is assuming failure. I realize that I now assume that everything I try will fail. I made the unpleasant discovery that success doesn’t even seem like a possibility anymore. Because failure is all I have ever known.
This makes me incredibly sad.
I keep going, though, because in my heart it’s what I know I’m supposed to do. I’ve tried doing other things, I’ve walked away from being an artist for years at a time. But that is soul-crushing, I’ve learned that the hard way. Being successful at something else does not make me happy. Not in a meaningful way.
I’d like to think that at some point, something will be easy. That my hard work and dedication will pay off. That someone will say YES. YES, Amy Clites, we want to work with you. YES, Amy Clites, not only do we think you have talent, but we know just what to do with it. My problem has never been a lack of talent. My problem has always been that I don’t fit into any mold, so nobody has ever known how to capitalize on what I have to offer. (CAPITALIZE is the operative word there – people don’t know how to make money off me.)
I recently had breakfast with a friend who just celebrated a milestone birthday. When taking stock of where she is right now versus where she thought she’d be, the truth was that she doesn’t have any of the things she thought she’d have at this age. But instead of it bringing her down, she said it was actually freeing. She made the realization that it was time to go rogue. And I’m going rogue right with her. We’ve been fed all these ideas about how to be successful and none of them have worked for us. We’ve played by the rules, we’ve taken the classes, we’ve gotten the right pictures, we’ve learned how to typecast ourselves, and NONE of it is working. As my friend told me, it’s time to trail blaze.
FUCK everything that I’ve been taught. I’m not playing by anybody else’s rules anymore except my own. You think you can tell me what I need to do to succeed? GREAT! But guess what? Tried it! Didn’t work for me! Doesn’t feel authentic to who I am! So fuck all that. As my sage-like movement teacher in grad school, Loyd Williamson, would say, “Go your own way.”
Starting today I’m doing things differently. How? I have no fucking idea yet. I have no idea how this will take shape. I have no road map. It’s time to go inward, to listen to my heart and my intuition. To say YES to things that feel good and right and NO to things that don’t. “One size fits all” success is not in the cards for me. I started on that journey – getting the education, doing the networking, taking MORE classes, paying MORE people to teach me the secret to success. Yeah, fuck that. I’m in the same place pretty much that I was 20 years ago – expect MUCH deeper in debt. That shit does not work for me.
When I was a teenager, I thought of myself as a nonconformist. Somewhere along the way I bought into the idea that I needed to conform in order to succeed. How the fuck did that happen?
I’m going rogue, y’all. It’s time to be a stubborn, incorrigible nonconformist. Stay tuned.