A Chick in Search of a Thing
It’s normal to feel aimless. To seek purpose. Humans have been doing it through the course of existence. Authors have bored me with it through the course of my education (I’m looking at you James Joyce). It’s not that I feel unhappy, but I am in search of my “thing.” The one thing I am great at. The thing that identifies me.
I’m good at a lot of things, but nothing stands out. Writer? Actor? Singer? CrossFitter? No. What I am best at is passable mediocrity. Or sometimes passable slightly-above-average-ness. My test scores showed this growing up. My physical abilities demonstrate this now. And my you-can-be-in-the-chorus-but-don't-ask-for-a-lead performing arts experience deliver this in a harsh dose of reality.
Sometimes I blame my mom. “Why did you let me quit everything?!” my 27 year old self whines to my mommy, “I could have been great!”
And I for sure blame my dad, an advertising executive. Who I suspected then but know now he could have definitely placed me in those TV commercials I begged to be in with Scott Hamilton. What did you even put me in ice skating lessons for, dad? Is this a sick joke?
My husband, who is a rapper with a real EP and a comedian who writes sold out sketch comedy shows in Chicago (and also a successful PR professional), says maybe my job is my thing. I’m really good at my job and I like it. Fuck you, Matt. (I love you).
Maybe it is, though. Maybe my job is my thing in a world where people are identified by and have to steak a claim in the one thing they can be recognized for.
But I invite you and must force myself to step out of that world where we are defined by one thing. It's a tall order, but here are 3 thoughts I hope will help me get there:
1. Take the Chance:You can't succeed if you don't try. Better to try and fail than to never try at all. Blah, blah, blah. It's true though. Take the class. Write the piece. Be in the show. Play the instrument. Because it's not about success or failure. Doing it is the thing.
2. You Don't ExpireSo many times I have thought to myself, "Well, I guess my time has passed. I'll never be a famous performer, professional athlete, [fill in the blank]." It's hard to remember, especially for women, that you don't expire. There is no real timeline by which you have to accomplish greatness or fade away forever. Push yourself to try new things.
3. Screw EveryoneOriginally, I called this "get out of your head." But that doesn't work for me. This is the hardest part and frankly I can't do it yet. But when I find myself fearing failure, or fearing mediocrity, sometimes I just have to whisper to myself, "screw everyone." They don't matter. Their perception of my success, failure or one true "thing" doesn't matter.
So embrace the concept of the Renaissance Man and find value in the Jacks Of All Trades. Don’t do your thing. Do all the things and don't worry about the results. Find joy in the process.
Because that’s a world where I win. And winning is everything.
(You guys, I’m sorry I ended the post that way. I typed it and laughed out loud and couldn’t delete it. But you all go do you. Whatever that means. Whatever that means is right.)