One of the most difficult things about being in a show is seeing it come to an end. Experiencing three months of hard work paying off is exhilarating to say the least, but once the show ends it creates a vacuum of creative energy. This week has been that for me.
I try to turn the page as best I can, for instance, I had grown my hair out for my portrayal of Che Guevara, so on Monday I decided to get my hair cut. I went from looking like Che Guevara to looking like a hipster who would be wearing his tshirt in a matter of minutes.
I must have known that this would not be an ordinary haircut since I decided to record the experience. Now you’d think someone as vain and wannabe hipster as myself would be frequenting the high-end barbershop fully outfitted with home-brewed beer and organic beard oils. But my level of vanity is only trumped by my level of frugality. So I march with $9 haircut coupon in hand to a nearby Supercuts housed in your typical strip mall. This particular Supercuts, like many, is situated next to a tanning salon. I smile to myself as I make my way inside, passing a leathery female trying to make people believe she just recently returned from a mid-November trip to the Cayman Islands, when in reality it looked like she’d been visiting the surface of the sun and had only packed Country Crock as sunscreen. Or I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. Either way, I can’t believe that people spend money to increase their chance for getting skin cancer. These are the kinds of thoughts that can flash through my head in a matter of seconds.
Anyhow, everything seemed typical for the first 20 minutes until the stylist said that she wasn’t sure how to cut a particular area of my hair. Halfway through the haircut she had to get a coworker to come and help her. Now, I’ve had several hair trimmers meet their maker during a haircut thanks to my thick and masculine locks. I’ve even had women fawn over how nice my hair was. Granted I was 10 years old at the time. But I often thought my life would end by pushing down the pillars of Dagon’s temple in Samsonesque fashion.
But this had never happened to me before. Why does she need help? Was she just there to run the register and they were shorthanded so they made her start attempting haircuts? For a moment, I thought my frugality and vanity were playing a game of chicken at my expense. A feeling of dread swept over me as I realized that I could not see the back of my head and this was the part she was getting hung up on. Being a pessimist at heart, all of the worst case scenarios flashed through my mind. I envisioned having to find several different over-sized hats to cover my abnormally large cranium in order to conceal the horrible atrocities committed to my luxurious mane of hair.
A bit overly dramatic? Yeah, but what do you expect? I AM AN ACTOR!!!
Being walked back from the ledge of despair by her stylist colleague, I realized that my worst fears were unfounded and the remaining part of my haircut went off without a hitch. Or so I think. She even asked to take a picture of my finished haircut. Sure, my haircut is what you want a picture of and not the rugged handsomeness upon which my hair rests. Who am I to resist such a request? Especially when I was recording our entire interaction. Hehe. Come to think of it, I still have not seen what the back of my head looks like. Sorry to anybody who sits behind me in church or at the movies. Please don’t point and stare.
It has also been a great time for my body to finally shut down after tackling such a demanding role.
I miss the people. Old and new friends. I miss the music. I miss the lights.
A friend from the cast posted online that we shouldn’t be sad that it’s over but be glad that it happened.
That is true and I am trying to see it that way. I said to my wife last night that I feel sorry for the millions of people who still don’t know what they were created to do. That is why I dedicate so much of my time and energy encouraging people to figure it out. For me, it’s singing and acting. That is the thing I love to do more than anything in the world. It’s the thing that I would regret most if I didn’t pursue it. And I am so thankful that I was able to find a career that allows me to pursue that passion.
On days like these, I recall a time when I had no idea what I was supposed to do with my life and I thank God. I thank Him for allowing me the opportunity to (re)discover my passion for the performing arts and then giving me the courage and fortitude to endure some very lean months in order to pursue my dreams. I thank Him for a family who loves me and supports me. For a wife and children that I do not deserve.
I’ve been given a gift, and I never want to forget that. I want to share it with the world. I don’t mean share my talents with the world, I mean I want others to have the gift of being able to do something that they love.
Remember to make some time in your schedule for something you love to do. Life is short and no one ever regrets not working more. They regret not taking the time to enjoy life and invest in their passion.
Ah the mall. Me and the mall have a love/hate relationship. I love the food court. Where else can you get cheesesteaks, Chick-Fil-A, Asian cuisine and Orange Julius all at the same time. What I hate is just about everything else. My very first job was in a mall. Coincidentally in the food court at a Chick-Fil-A. But the mall, during the day, is a depressing place to be. For me at least. I remember times when I would walk through the mall on my break and I would see like 13 year old kids acting they’re grownups, hanging all over each other, making out, all this swagger like their too cool for school. I used to love going up to them and telling them that their Mommy is waiting for them outside. I tend to do things like that and it bothers my wife so much. In fact, when I was preparing for this episode I remembered that some 10 years ago, when I used to do a radio show with a friend of mine, I went on a rant about the mall. Here’s a clip, keep in mind this was recorded 10 years ago.
Not much has changed from my perspective. For example, any time I see kids smoking or acting a fool it takes all of my self-control not to go up to them and yank the cigarette out of their mouth and yell It’s 2016! No one thinks you’re cool because you’re smoking! You look like an idiot. Uh oh RANT ALERT!!!! Nothing bothers me more than preteens and young teens acting like adults. You don’t get that right until you have some responsibility. If your parents are still driving you around and giving you “spending money” then you might as well be wearing a diaper as far as I’m concerned. Kids want freedom but not responsibility. Money without bills. Privacy without accountability. As a parent, if I pay to put a roof over my kids’ heads than every square inch of that house is under my oversight. That means that no part of that home is off limits to me. It just doesn’t work that way. I find it funny that parents hover over their kids when they’re little and are over protective but as they get older and are capable of doing far worse damage to themselves and others, we ease up because we don’t want to cramp their style. I feel like it should be the reverse. That’s just me. You can criticize me all you want, I don’t care. But implore you, Parents, please teach your kids how to be respectable, humble, good citizens who contribute to society without a hint of entitlement. Somehow those lessons are missed by a large majority of society today and we are feeling the negative effects. Anyway, rant over. So, I recently took my kids to the mall. With them it can be fun but I always have to preface every trip with “Don’t ask for everything you see.” Christmas is next month. I’m not going to buy you anything now.” YADA YADA YADA You know the drill. So here we are, our first stop was getting my son’s watch fixed.
One of our favorite stops is the hobby store. It has everything a young boy would want. Drones, model cars, trains and airplanes. They even allow you to rent time on their race tracks for remote controlled cars. The funny thing is, it is always being used by middle-aged men. In fact, come to think of it, I think we are usually the only ones under 50 in that store.
We also like to stop in Video Game store. For obvious reasons. I really appreciate that people are interested in the classic video games.
This past week I spent more time in the mall than I care to admit. No I wasn’t doing Christmas shopping. Actually I was turning the tables and making the mall work for me. When you work in Real Estate, there are certain times in the year where things tend to slow down. Typically the end of summer right before the school year and as the holidays approach. So being self-employed, you try to find creative ways to make some extra jingos around the holidays. This year I am performing in a Christmas-themed dinner theater. But what brought me to the mall was the prestigious opportunity of performing market research. That’s right, just like with the election, I have a voice in whether a specific product or marketing approach is effective to White Males in their 30s. I am part of that coveted demographic. In this case, it was a Tuna taste test. The reward $40 of cold hard cash. So I arrive promptly for my appointment and discover that a friend of mine has also caught on to my money-making scheme. Needless to say that I don’t need to eat Tuna for the rest of the year. But hey! The $40 I made will pay for our babysitter on a much needed date night. So in a way, you can say that my frugality is an investment in my marriage. Anyway, don’t judge me.
When you put all of your hopes in an expected outcome that doesn’t come to fruition, you can become disenfranchised or disillusioned. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
As many of you know, I am pretty outspoken about the fact that my dream is to one day perform for Sight & Sound in Lancaster. It is a professional theater that produces biblical musicals and runs all year around. Last year, I submitted a demo reel to them in hopes of getting a chance to audition. I didn’t really think I had a chance, but I figured, what the heck? To my surprise, they invited me to come to their “invite-only” auditions. So I went to my first professional theater audition, and did my best, though in hindsight I was wildly unprepared. I actually made it to the end of the day without being cut, so I went home feeling pretty good about my chances.
That was until I found out how the process works. Since it was my first professional theater audition, I had no idea what I was in for.
After waiting over two months to find out, all while struggling to stay afloat in my new business, I got that dreaded email rejection. Truthfully, I was devastated. I saw this opportunity as a lifeline, and I had misguidedly put all of my hope and faith in this thing working out for me. I see parallels in this story to the current state of our country. People put all of their faith in a person or political party to be their lifeline, and when said person does not get elected, we are devastated. But I digress. Now, as I regularly outline in this blog, I have made my share of mistakes and missteps along the road of life, but for some reason I felt that if they were all leading to this moment it would, in a way, validate or redeem all of that mess I had created. But here I was again, a floundering startup business, and no clear direction for 2016.
Shortly after receiving my rejection email, I realized that if I was going to succeed in my business going forward, then I needed to make a change. It was around this time that I started to take both my life as an actor and as an entrepreneur more seriously. I realized that if I was going to build a business, then I needed to study and apply myself to business. If I was going to succeed in realizing my dream, then I needed to improve as an actor. In some ways, the rejection was the catalyst for everything I have accomplished over the past year. If I had not been rejected by Sight and Sound for the 2016 season, then I would have never launched the Real Person | Real Needs podcast and funding campaign. If I’d not been rejected, then I would not have been able to donate $2500 of my commission to people who need a safe place to call home.
In the past I would have seen this rejection as a closed door, a missed opportunity. But thankfully my wife was there to keep me from giving up. She told me that this rejection could just be a test to see how badly I wanted to pursue my dream. It was through her support that I committed to getting better and giving it my best shot rather than throwing in the towel and quitting. So I began to study entrepreneurs to improve my business acumen. I also started to study actors and the art of auditioning. I began to formulate a plan, then I started to test and try new things and develop my skillset through practice. Then I chose to aggressively pursue my dream. I launched my new business model and started going on professional theater auditions. I cut ties with my previous real estate broker to find the right group of people to surround myself with in order to succeed. Things have been difficult at times this year, since I basically rebooted my career after only one year. But thankfully I discovered that in order to succeed, I needed to do things that were true to the core of my convictions. I realized that valleys are part of the journey and that persistence in the face of adversity (rejection) is crucial. Finally, I now understand that things don’t simply happen over night. One choice does not produce change in an instant. It is by doing the right things day in and day out, and not wavering or growing weary that real change begins to happen. Through patience, we can finally begin to see the fruit of our labor. And when this fruit comes after experiencing failure or rejection, it is all the more sweet, and you will never take it for granted.
(For more information on this topic of pursuing your dream, you can download my free eBook at www.6wordsbook.com)
ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY TO GROW
So why do I bring all of this up? Well, I was invited back to Sight and Sound this year to audition again. I believe I did even better this time. But after waiting another two plus months, I received my rejection email again this past Sunday. In the midst of feeling elated about my current theater production and the review we received, I was smacked in the face again with the feeling of rejection. I am disappointed, for sure. But knowing all of the good that came out of 2016 after the last rejection, I take solace in the fact that 2017 is almost here and I have the opportunity to improve and accomplish some amazing things.
So, if you are feeling the sting of rejection, remember to take a step back and find ways to use that rejection as a catalyst to improve and do the most good with the time you have. Instead of lamenting a lost opportunity, take advantage of the opportunity to get better. I know I will.
“The more rejection you get, the better you are, the more you’ve learned, the closer you are to your outcome.” – Tony Robbins