In life balance is a key part of finding happiness and grounding. For those that know me, they know that I am an intense person. I can be an extremist as well. So, I was thinking about my life and where I am right now in my head space as well as in my budding career, and I realized that many of my issues lay in finding balance.
Growing up I was always a smart kid, but I could also be a smart aleck. However, unlike much of today’s youth, I had the fear of the almighty GOD in me when it came to the disciplinarians in my family. So I knew when to shut that all the way down. But in school and in social situations throughout my adolescence and teen years, I really just wanted people to like me. I was very insecure and very self-conscious, and I took heavy stock in what others thought. Because of that, I didn’t always speak my mind or go with my gut, as I wanted to fit in…unaware that when you are built to stand out, fitting in never happens. As I got older I found myself in many situations where I was being manipulated and taken advantage of, so to combat that I began to go from people pleasing and sort of meek, to brash, loud, overtly outspoken and hostile. All of my pent up anger, hostility, fear, and other heated emotions manifested itself into me being the sole Captain of “Team Too Much.”
Over time I gained and lost friends, mentors, business partners and so on. Many weren’t lost but forcefully let go of (lol); albeit much of the separation was necessary. But a few of those losses were indeed LOSSES and due to my inability to toe the line properly between speaking up and out, and bulldozing over others by being insensitive to their feelings, points of view, needs and place in my life.
Now, as a full grown-up (sometimes anyway), I feel I’ve learned - the hard way - how and when to find my chill. Through the building of Boxed Out and MTE, I have really discovered that I’m not as docile as I would like to think I am, at home or at work. But I am impassioned, so my passion for what I want and who I want to become, can at times come off as brash or rude or hard/harsh. I have surely upset the apple cart many times with colleagues, actors and even my partner. But in indie film, though we are presently living in what I feel is the moment of the female progressive, it’s still a boy’s game. So often, I have to be that much smarter, on point, aggressive and in laser-focused pursuit of my goals in this game to get even a hundredth of an inch further than I was the year before. This mindset and passion can at times present personal and personnel issues though. I had to learn to be aware of others and the way things can be taken, even if I didn’t mean them that way. I can’t be responsible for losing key people and opportunities for my big, loud mouth!
The thing is, I’ve been on the other side of that fence. I’ve been an actor in a so-called class with someone who felt it necessary to “break me down” in order to get me where they’d like me to be with my art. The breakdown wasn’t taking the time to show me my ticks, bad habits, needed growth in certain skill sets and techniques though. It was usually in the spirit of let me show you I know what I’m doing by pointing out that you do not. It didn’t feel good. It didn’t feel productive. And it damn sure didn’t feel necessary. So as I was the one in the alleged position of power, or in charge, I realized that initially I was doing the same thing. But when someone is working with and for you to grow, to dream chase, to gain insight, opportunity, experience and all for nothing more than a few measly meals and maybe an IMDB credit you cannot treat them that way. Not to mention human-to-human contact needn’t be THAT anyway.
But you know what? That’s all ego and a very large character issue. So…I’m working on this as a personal character thing. I want the adjustment to be something that I implement at work, on set and at home. Oh, and ESPECIALLY as I have a partner in one of my companies who is realistically one of the THE MOST intelligent and talented people I know, but also deserves to be able to be who they are, even if that is my indirect opposite. As well as being someone who works with a trailer load of folks that all have varied personalities, backgrounds, ideals, training (or lack thereof) and sensitivity levels. But what they don’t have is Hollywood scale checks for their work with and for me! LOL
So in all areas of my life, I am learning when I need my inner lioness to be the hunter, gatherer and/or protector that she is and roar, and when my soft kitten needs to maybe meow or softly mewl a bit more, and hiss a lot less. In indie anything, but especially film and media, the hours are crappy, the money is worse and the conditions can sometimes rival the level of crappy that the hours can be. So when we as independent content creators (be you a filmmaker, director, producer, DP, etc.) have to be mindful to balance our passion, our emotions, our attitudes and our egos.
I am aware that I can discuss something with someone and my eyes, tone and voice can be so expressive that folks think I am up in arms, when in reality; I’m just really into the retelling of the story or the topic at hand. Or I can be so offended, put off or hurt by the action of someone that I find myself pouring all of my emotions out with letters, expletives and emojis as my thumbs fly a mile a minute; when I need to either pick up the phone or edit the hell out of that message before I press send. I do that now…before, not so much.
Thankfully there are specifically two people in my life who do this balance thing so well. One I know and am very close to, the other I have never met but I follow their work and progress so closely that I really do call them my mentor-in-my-head. No matter how much goes on, they seem to emote such a calm knowing of what to do and when/how to do it. And I know firsthand that one has a barrage of challenges to face head on every day, and the other I’m SURE has them. But the finesse and guile they each use in their own way gets ROAR results, with meow exertion. Trust that I’m always taking mental notes!
I say all of this to say to my fellow creatives…find your center people. Really dig into the crux of who and what you are. What triggers the anger, depression, desperation, fear, worry, panic in you? What allows you to be centered, unbothered, mildly, if at all affected? When you can figure those things out, success is waiting for you, and it will ask what took you so long when you get to it.
Be mindful, outside situations may squeeze you… but hey, that’s just the world we live in. But when you squeeze a tube of toothpaste, what comes out? (wait for it) …TOOTHPASTE! Know why? Because that’s what’s in it. The pressure only sped up the process of release. So when you are squeezed, what comes out is ultimately what is already inside. Work on your ingredients so that when you are squeezed, what comes out of your tube is a true representation of what’s on the inside.