Have a Little Faith

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 / 5:30 PM

The hardest thing I've ever had to do was belief in myself.

With every step I've taken in life--every theater stage I stepped out on to perform, every location change I've ever made, even the graduation speech I stood up in front of my college to give--it's always been done with anxiety and fear. I would work myself up into a ball of stress and then eventually close my eyes and just run forward into the unknown, and pray to God I wouldn't just fall off a cliff. I've never in my life walked into anything with pure confidence, which makes me feel like such a fraud when I cheer others on to chase their dreams.

But when Nichole asked me what I felt I learned in the 24th year of my life, I think the answer would be: I learned to have faith in myself.

I learned to trust that I am more than a cog in someone else's machine, more than a pawn on someone else's chessboard. I learned I can own my narrative and my voice, all while being part of a team too, and I learned I could do all of that because I had the right people who made me embrace humility and then put their trust behind me to encourage me to do the work they knew I was capable of all along.

To be just 24 and to have been told most of her life she wasn't quite capable, that was huge.

And so when Nichole also asked me if I thought career success was directly related to whether or not you got along well with the people you worked with, my answer was, without hesitation, "Yes." Although I want to add a disclaimer to all of that too:

Yes. But know that being friends with your colleagues, seeking out mentors and having them believe in you early on when they really had no reason to yet, means you're vulnerable. It means you've broken down that wall made up of ego and arrogance, and learned to accept the advice and help of the people you look up to--which is important, because success doesn't begin and end with a single person.

Yes, but remember to always be grateful for the person a week ago, a month ago, a year ago who brought you to where you are right now, because it'll keep you humble.

Yes, but remember that nothing is permanent--especially work, and that sometimes you're going to have to say goodbye to the people who helped you when you were ready to quit. If you're the kind of person who wears your heart on your sleeve, who craves to be passionate about everything you do--be prepared to get your heart broken a lot. Saying goodbye doesn't get any easier with age.

In the novel of your life, I hope the 'acknowledgements' section is as full of heart as the greatest story you write.

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