“I am not saying stop striving for more, I am saying stop getting what you want and then saying ‘Well this doesn’t count.'” ~Caitlin O’Connor
The thing about having actors and former beauty queens as friends is that my newsfeed is often filled with very beautiful people doing glamorous and impressive things. I’m pretty good at celebrating the accomplishments of my friends, but I’ve realized I don’t always celebrate my own achievements.
A few weeks back, one of my friends posted that she’d be doing her residency at Northwestern. In addition to being a doctor, she is a Harvard graduate, talented violinist and former Miss Iowa. Along with about 200 other people, I congratulated her and said I hoped we could reconnect when she moves to Chicago. She graciously responded by saying she looked forward to our reunion, and added that she creeps on me every now and again and is always impressed with what I am doing. I was floored. What could this violin playing, medicine practicing, Harvard alum possibly find impressive about my life?
I’ve talked before about avoiding professional jealousy and dealing with friends success. But how do you deal with your own success? I’ve realized that I deal with it mostly by denying it exists at all. For every accomplishment, I move the goalpost back a little further.
If I get a callback I beat myself up for not getting the job. If I book a job I feel its diminished because I knew the director or because a friend put me up for it or because its not a big established theatre. And that is bullshit.
There is a difference between being humble and being self deprecating. While humility is an essential part of a strong character, the ability to celebrate is essential for self confidence. And it takes a lot of confidence to do what we do.
Why are we so reluctant to celebrate our accomplishments? Artists and athletes alike may use their dissatisfaction with past performance to fuel future endeavors. We need that desire to motivate us and keep us moving forward. Of course we shouldn’t settle. Of course we should strive for more, challenge ourselves to be better and dream bigger. But shouldn’t we stop and give ourselves a pat on the back now and then? Whats the point of following your dreams if you don’t celebrate while you’re living them?
So I am going to say it out loud (or online, as it were). This counts. I am doing it. I may not be on a national tour or having a big beautiful wedding anytime soon, but I am living the life I dreamed of. I am in the middle of a production I really love, working with actors and artists who I admire and respect.
Three Soldiers (For Sisters) is playing at The Den Theatre until March 23rd. I’d love for you to come see it, and celebrate with me.