Here’s the thing they never tell you in those self-help books about choosing your authentic path.
Sure, it’s the only real way to live a content and purposeful life and eventually you will be better off, but for a long while – it sucks.
When you draw a line in the sand and make a different choice, people sometimes doubt what you are doing. They tell you that you are crazy for giving up _____________ , and that you should really go back to the old thing and just stay in your nice little box with the tidy label and be a good girl.
Embracing your true self can be painful. It’s full of moments of paralyzing doubt that make you wish that you had taken that manicured, easy path – instead of hacking your way through the jungle with a machete, getting whipped in the face with branches and bitten by vicious insects.
But, it’s still worth it.
There have been moments in the decade since I retired from the film industry where fitting in felt so awkward that it brought me to tears. Trying to make myself a LinkedIn profile caused me to have a breakdown, because in the real world, my film “skills” are completely irrelevant. I’d never had any other work experiences and my education was pretty much an afterthought. How was I ever going to do this?
There have been times I thought that I should give up and go back to LA and be an actor again. Not because it was what I wanted — but because it felt easier and more familiar. Acting was my safety school.
From the emails and messages that I’ve been getting since I started this blog, I’m realizing that I am not alone in choosing the path less-traveled. Many of you seem to be saying – I’m doing this crazy thing, too, and it’s challenging and brutal and I totally know how you feel.
And you DO know how I feel. Because almost everyone has to deal with that moment when they realize that what they want is different from what other people want for them. That’s the moment where personal, fundamental decisions need to be made.
So, let me just say this. Whatever it might be that feels authentic to you, be it painting or going back to school or opening a coffee shop or moving to Santa Fe – don’t banish it just because it feels like an uphill battle. It might be terrifying and unfathomable at times, that’s okay. There are going to be a lot of people who don’t get it. That’s okay, too. It’s not their life.
In the scariest moments, be reassured that you are not alone. There are lots of us out here, just trying to live the truth, make a difference and have some fun in the process. And I think pretty much all of us would say it’s totally worth it. Because I know this for sure: choosing to live a counterfeit version of your own life sucks even more than the struggle for authenticity.
I have the following quote on my bulletin board because it gets me through those moments where I feel tired or frustrated and maybe I accidentally read the nasty comments about me on the Huffington Post. Maybe it can be of use to you, too.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”
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