When Something Is Hard

I had a conversation with a friend the other day about how many people like to complain about how hard things are.

Let me give you some context to help specify this very general statement.

My friend is very, very pregnant. Like, I was ready at any point during our conversation to drive her to the hospital if she started making a pained face. She’s about to pop. So she’s had a lot of conversations (some requested, most unsolicited) about parenting lately. It’s her first kid, so she’s getting all sorts of advice (again, most of it she’s not asking for). One of her closer friends had recently gone on a mini tirade about how hard it is to be parent.

As a woman of child-bearing age who’s been getting pressure for a decade to procreate, this is a refrain I hear a lot. I have dogs (I mention them often). People love to remind me how having dogs is so different and so much easier than having children (again, I don’t ask, they just offer this up as if I made the comparison on my own and asked them their opinion of it).

The most frustrating part about people telling you how hard something is, especially parenting (besides what I’ve made obvious in these parenthetical asides about people offering up opinions that nobody asked for) is the fact that they make it sound like hard is the worst thing you can do. And that you’ve never done anything as hard as this thing you’re about to do.

In a world filled with comforts, hacks, and affordable luxuries around every corner, I get why doing something “hard” gets more and more terrifying. But just because something’s hard, doesn’t automatically make it something you need to be afraid of or complain about or worry about. It’s just something different from most people usual existence (unless you’re David Goggins).

Childbirth, more than almost anything, remains incredibly difficult. Even with the advances in technology and increases in our ability to protect, track, and plan the birthing process, that large baby still has to come out of that woman’s body one way or another. There’s no hack for that (at the moment).

Yet after the childbirth process, you’ve created a freaking human life. You now get to enjoy and raise this kid. And yes, you’re going to have sleepless nights and goo in places you never expected and smell crap you never thought could come out of a human being. And that’s going to be “hard.” But you also get to snuggle with an innocent life form and hold its hand when it learns to walk and get butterfly kisses before it goes out to play in the yard and watch it learn to talk and run and grow.

Are you going to sacrifice all of that because it’s hard?

Okay, I’ve been harping on baby making for a second, mostly inspired by my friend who is probably in labor right now (you guys, she’s was SO PREGGO). But that’s not my point here. If you don’t want to have kids, totally cool. I’m not interested in a discussion about kids. I’m trying to make a point about what people think is hard.

Every morning when I get up in the dark and leave my warm bed and snuggly dogs (and husband) to do some mind clearing and head to workout, that’s hard. I don’t complain. It’s a choice I’m making that makes me an overall better human.

When I go to my hard workout class and my peppy teacher yells “Mountain climbers!” and my body starts instinctively kicking my own ass, that’s hard. I don’t complain about it. It’s a choice I’m making to improve my health and challenge my muscles to be an overall better human.

When I’m slogging through writing something and I don’t know what to say and I’m convinced I’ve already used every word in the English language and there are no more sentences that will come to me ever, but I’m only halfway through the project and I have to keep going because I’m on a deadline, that’s hard. I don’t complain. It’s a privilege to get the opportunity to create and do what I’m good at and add value to the world in a way that makes me feel fulfilled.

All of these small choices in my typical day pale in comparison to some of the much harder jobs other people have and the lives they live, and the choice they make to go to and improve themselves (or sometimes just get through them) daily.

Thank god no firefighter, military service person, police officer, construction worker, single mom, high-risk public school teacher, first responder, ER doctor, or air traffic controller was thwarted by someone warning them their job would be hard.

And those are just the choices we have. Hard things happen to us all the time. They’re inevitable. Complaining about them or worrying about them or wishing they were over doesn’t make them any easier or help them to go any faster.

The only trick to surviving something hard is just to do it. Once you’ve done one hard thing, even if it’s small, you start to get confidence that you can do something bigger and harder. And if you’ve been through something big and hard already, the hard smaller things feel more manageable.

Hard is what it is. It’s unforgiving, challenging, and unresponsive to your complains. So just do it. Learn from it. Survive it. Get through it. And your spirit will get stronger for it every time.

(And also maybe don’t offer a pregnant woman – or any woman – your opinion unless asked, k? Thanks!)

 

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As I Quietly Keep Working

Every day on social media, I see friends of mine talking about big auditions and meetings they have.

I often have these too, but I choose to quietly keep working.

I see pictures of people who have small parts in productions I played a major role in broadcasting to the world how much they’re doing and getting hundreds of “likes” for it.

I think about doing the same, but instead choose to quietly keep working.

I see peers of mine snagging major film and TV roles. The world knows their names and I struggle to pay my bills. I could feel jealous or I could be over-zealous about my close connections to these superstars.

Instead I smile and am glad for their success because it means there’s still paid work  and new opportunities to be had in comedy. So I know I should quietly keep working.

I could advertise my social media and spend precious time and money gaining “likes” and “followers” so I look like I have a huge following.

But I’d rather spend my time creating and my money on producing content I love. So instead I choose to quietly keep working.

People talk to me about their intense training regimen or post pictures of how hard they work on their diets and exercise.

But I don’t mention my own commitment to fitness. I don’t post gym selfies. Instead I smile, give them encouragement, then quietly keep working.

Many friends of mine have active social lives brimming with fulfilling hobbies. They get the opportunity to travel and have adventures and pursue lives outside of their careers.

While I sometimes do too, I recognize that it’s not usually my life at this moment. I want a successful career. So I quietly keep working.

I see people at Happy Hours and being social. I see their smiling faces and know that my own window for being “young and free” is ticking.

But I don’t mind. I prefer to focus on what I want most. I prefer to work on me, which often means sacrificing some elements of the present to create the future I want. So I quietly keep working.

I could share more details about my own life and my own successes. I could share every meeting I have and every agreement I sign. I could hint at every development deal I have and every time someone bites on one of my many projects.

But I know I’d only be doing it to seek outside validation. So I’ll wait until I’m ready and have something really exciting and important to share. And I’ll wait until I know I’m sharing it for the right reasons. I’ll be sharing out of excitement and enthusiasm, not insecurity or validation. And until then, I quietly keep working.

Things are happening. I’m making deals and I’m gaining traction. But I know that I’m doing these things for me, not to show off to the rest of the world how great I’m doing. I’m doing them because I need to. I’m hardwired to create, perform, imagine and entertain. I know some of the deals are going to fall through and I know some of them are going to help me catapult my career.

But most importantly, I know that no matter what continues to happen, I’m going to continue to do what I do best: quietly keep working.

Maybe I should be more of a showman. Maybe I should be more of a bragger. Maybe I should over-exaggerate my involvement in certain projects and with certain people to seem more impressive.

But that’s not my nature. And the type of people who are impressed by that aren’t the type of people I want to impress. Instead, I have faith in my own talent, my work ethic, my bonds and interactions with others, and my body of work will speak volumes more than any caption I could put on a social media post. Sometimes this works in my favor and occasionally it works against me. But in the long run, I know it will pay off. Even if my journey is windier than many of my peers, I’m a firm believer that when I am able to rise to the top, I’ll have no problem staying there. Because I quietly keep working, and let that speak for itself.

I’m writing this post not to brag about how much I work. But just because I feel the need to express the approach I take to my own work.

It’s so I can feel liberated to go back to continuing to quietly keep working.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m tired of talking about myself. I’ve got an imagination to serve who I can only hear when I’m quiet and is only satsified when I’m working.

So I’m off. To quietly keep working.

Femoir The Podcast: Episode 68 – Show Notes

resilienceWe’re back with another Femoir: The Podcast episode- can you believe it friends? All this time! And we’re back! And it feels sooooooo good.

In this episode, I talk about Steven Pressfield and three of his most significant books (at least for me):

1. The War of Art

2. Do the Work

3. Turning Pro

I also mention National Novel Writing Month, Family Guy, Pirate’s Booty White Cheddar Puffs and Smart Puffs Wisconsin Cheddar.

We’re back. And it’s very cheesy (aaaaaahhhh- get it!?).

Vegas Britney Motivation

I’m headed out of town with some girlfriends. We’re going to Vegas. And we’re gonna see Britneybritney vegas Spears perform there. And I’m stoked. Like, totally stoked maaaaaan.

For the past couple weeks I’ve let her be my motivation. Girl looks good. And she’s had two babies and some messed up stuff happen to her. But she stays in great shape. And has an athletic body. So it’s a shape that’s attainable for me (at my best…).

I may not look like her. But at least I look like a better version of me while trying to look more like her. But also staying true to me. Because me as her wouldn’t look good but me as me but in her-like shape would.

I don’t know what I’m saying. I’m drunk already.

Vegas, Britney, Vegas!

 

The Talented Mr. Abdi

For the past couple days, various news reports have announced that the very talented, Oscar-nominated actor Barkhad Abdi is reportedly “broke” and living off per diems Sony Studios provided throughout awards season. (Click here for the report from The Hollywood Reporter)

People are outraged. They’re upset that this great actor could be a part of something that made so much money and was so successful and somehow as financially sound as his multi-millionaire peers.

Something about these articles rubbed me the wrong way. And I’ve been thinking about them a lot. And I finally figured out why I was so bothered by all the outrage.

Here’s the thing… Hollywood is f*#@ing tough.

I think it’s wonderful a talent like Mr. Abdi got the opportunity to have a huge break and possibly make a career for himself. And in no way am I writing this to question or undercut this man’s obvious talent. He’s a great actor and deserves lots more opportunities to shine onscreen.

But let’s look at some of the realities of the situation:

It was his first major film

He got lucky. Really lucky. Like, really really lucky. He is a very talented man with a gift who happened to be in the right place at the right time and was handed the perfect role to show that off. That happens. Rarely, but it happens. And when it does, it’s the start of a career. The first step in what can become and extremely successful and lucrative career. He was compensated a fair amount. And he continues to be compensated. Yes, he lives off a per diem and needs help from his friends to make his dreams a reality. I live off a day job and get help from my friends all the time to make my dreams a reality. That’s called started an acting career. It can be years of tough work. Even after you get big breaks. Just look at any average actors long-spanning career. It’s filled with little breaks, big breaks, and a ton of tough shit in between.

Tom Hanks was the box office draw, not him

I think people are so upset because Mr. Abdi was playing opposite one of the most successful box office stars of our generation. And he did a stand out job. There is no denying it. But Tom Hanks is the star. Tom Hanks is the household name. Tom Hanks is the reason the movie was financially successful. Sony is not going to pour millions of dollars into a movie about a guy barely anyone has heard of starring a guy nobody has heard of. That’s not going to happen. Studios care about making money. They’re a business. It’s a good business decision to have Tom Hanks be the star. And while Mr. Abdi has and should be rewarded for the excellence with which he portrayed his role, he is not the reason the movie was a financial success. Tom Hanks is. Plain and simple.

In ten years, assuming Mr. Abdi can consistently be the star of several financially successful blockbuster hits, then he should share the lucrative financial rewards (aka “points on the backend”) with someone like Tom Hanks. Or even five years from now. Or even three major movie hits. My point is, Tom Hanks has earned his keep. Of course he made more money in the film. He’s the reason the film made money.

Mr. Abdi lived and worked outside Los Angeles. He recently decided to move here and pursue his dreams, riding the coattails of this huge amount of publicity and success. Good for him! I’m happy for him! I hope he has lots and lots of success. But it won’t come without lots and lots more work. And probably lots and lots more poverty. Because this is LA, baby. Rent is high and actors plentiful. Your best bet is to do good consistent work, find people you love creating with, and do it for the love of creation. If you’re lucky (and smart about it) maybe you can turn that into a lucrative career. He’s certainly at a major advantage right now to do so. But careers are not made overnight. Great performances can be rewarded, but you have to consistently prove yourself before people will begin believing that you’re worth what you say you’re worth.

Hollywood does not reward pure talent alone. It can recognize it, as is the case with Mr. Adbdi, but that doesn’t mean the most talented people automatically get exalted to consistent big screen hits and stardom. It’s a weird and incalculable, usually unmeasurable, series of factors that make someone a star. Many times, being in the right place at the right time is a major fact that needs to fall into place. And Mr. Abdi got that. But after that, there’s a thousand weird things that need to continue to happen to keep your career progressing. Don’t ask me what they are. If I understood it, I wouldn’t be eating two day old chicken for lunch in my studio apartment before heading to spend hours at a day job that has nothing to do with acting. All I know is that it seems like consistent good work, a positive attitude, likable personality, inexhaustible work ethic, and overwhelming desire to create are eventually rewarded.

At least I hope so.

He is not a “casualty” of the system

One of the articles reporting on Mr. Abdi wrote that he may become a “casualty of the Hollywood system.” I would have thrown my computer across the room if I weren’t so poor and dependent on it for all my creativity at the moment.

Because here’s the thing- he’s not even close to a casualty. He’s an exception.

There’s a big ass difference.

If he becomes just another actor struggling for roles and working every day towards that next break to prove himself again, he won’t be a casualty. He’ll be a regular working actor.

The casualties of Hollywood are the people who give up. The people who come to LA with stars in their eyes, get worn down by the constant hardships and rejection and move back home. They’re the people who have lived and worked in LA for 20 years without ever getting their major breakout role and become so downtrodden they give up on their dreams. They’re the people who lose all their money to the constant scammers who prey upon them and give up on their dreams before they’ve ever even started. They all couldn’t take it and gave up on their dreams. Those people are the casualties.

Mr. Abdi is an exception. In his first role, he got to play opposite a major movie star in a blockbuster international hit movie and was nominated for several awards. That’s exceptional. If nothing ever comes from his career, it can still be considered a success. He was nominated for an Oscar. An Oscar. He can never be a casualty of Hollywood.

If I haven’t yet made it clear, this has nothing to do with Mr. Abdi’s talent. He’s awesome. I wish him nothing but success. This tirade has to do only with the assumption that just because a person is talented and made a good movie that Hollywood should automatically reward them. It’s never been the case and it will never be the case.

Besides, he was at every major awards season ceremony with huge movie stars who knew him on a first name basis and praised him for his work. If that isn’t rewarding, I don’t know what is.

Careers span decades because the creation has to continue. People become stars because they deliver consistently great performances over long periods of time.

Besides, if Mr. Abdi really is broke, that doesn’t make him any less of an actor. If anything, that makes him just like all my other extremely talented and extremely broke friends. Welcome to the club, Captain. Time to get to work.

Ms. In the Biz Article

I love writing for Ms. In the Biz. I think they’re an awesome online community of inspiring women working hard to make their dreams come true.

Here’s a link to my latest article for them. I hope you take the time to read it and peruse other great articles on the site.

Let Go Of These 3 Things…