You are who you think you are
May 10, 2010
It’s 8:05 a.m. A rainy May day in Tokyo. It’s time to get going, get with it, get on it. Is that where you’re at? Or are you crying…?
Yesterday I met with my writer friend. She’s walking out on a limb, going for it, declaring herself a “writer.” I applauded her. But getting to that conversation, we both shed some tears… about our unique lives here in Japan, about the decisions we made (or didn’t), about what the universe gives us (or doesn’t). The tears welled up in our eyes without notice; it was kind of shocking to me. But the reasons all boiled down to this: we have not believed in ourselves enough. We have not trusted ourselves enough. We have not allowed ourselves to think that for one moment maybe we really could be writers.
After I left our tête-à-tête, I said to myself, “That’s it! No more tears!” — Now, that’s easy to say and I don’t know that I can hold back the dam if indeed we hit an emotional geyser, but… I said to myself, “From TODAY, I am a WRITER.” If other people want to think differently, that’s THEIR opinion. I write, therefore, I am a writer. That gave me a feeling of strength, a protective coat, a veneer of toughness. I am going to keep saying it over and over and over. When I introduce myself to others, I am going to say, “I’m a writer.” And when they look at me admiringly I will drink in the admiration, because, as my darling writer friend from yesterday’s tear-fest said to me, “You deserve it.”
Yes, I deserve it. I have lived in denial of my talents my whole life… for what? I think somehow I thought that if I “went too far” I would somehow not fit into the image that others already had of me. And so, I stayed locked in that image for many years. I could have succumbed to alcohol or drugs or God-knows-what, but I didn’t… I just “maintained” the image.
Well, that image doesn’t work for me anymore. I am not a well-known writer, I only make a pittance for what I have written so far… but I DON’T CARE. I started on a path, a path I was afraid to walk down. And it doesn’t matter to me how many other talented, gifted, brilliant people have walked down it … there is still room for ME. I am going to make room.
And so… if I only sit and cry about it, that ain’t going to get me anywhere. It’s okay, I suppose, to share those tears with a dear friend who can understand and support you, but I think the trick is to acknowledge what was, what wasn’t, what is and what isn’t. Right now I am in the “what is” mode… and I am going to work it to the best of my abilities.
Years ago I met a woman in Hollywood. I think her name was Lynn, but it doesn’t really matter. What’s important is that “Lynn” was who she thought she was. In other words, if there was an audition for a tap dancer, then Lynn went to it; it wasn’t important whether she actually was a tap dancer or not; she BELIEVED she was for the purpose of the audition. And one of the hardest lessons I’ve learned is: “You are who you think you are.”
So, that is my “mantra” for today and I encourage anyone who has any doubts about their creative selves to “take ownership” of that and declare that you are a writer or actor or musician or singer. You will find your audience.