When I graduated from high school, I was touched by my friend’s father who encouraged me to pursue my dream to act. I laughed when he suggested I find a rich husband to support the endeavor, but unfortunately he wasn’t joking.
I’m proud my eighteen-year-old self already knew I didn’t need a man to facilitate making my dream come true. I do agree with my Irish mother that “money is good for the nerves,” but my heart has always chosen a man for who he is--not what he has.
So instead I leaned on my parents! (Cue KClark’s Ms. Independent) I was fortunate enough to have Irene and Peter living close to Manhattan where I stayed for several years after graduating college, commuting in and out of the city, auditioning, studying the craft, performing in plays, networking, etc. I was also grateful for my job at Rags—a chic boutique clothing store in my hometown, Rye, NY. It was a pretty great set-up—amazing co-workers like sisters, gorgeous clothes with a killer discount, and flexibility to come and go based on my audition and class schedule.
I had a plan in action and felt AWESOME about it until parents of my high school peers would come into the store and ask the dreaded question, “So this is what you’re doing?” “Did you graduate from Lehigh yet?” I’d scramble to validate myself as my voice climbed twenty octaves: “Yes, I actually graduated a semester early so that I could further my acting training in New York and audition…”
I cringed at their glazed over eyes, knowing they wouldn’t be too pleased if it was their daughter taking her six-figure degree to attempt Broadway. I wish my 24 year-old self didn’t care, but she really really did. Furthermore, she thrived off the validation she finally received when the same judgey characters would stop her on the street to say, “I SAW YOU ON TV!” with the utmost approval and praise.
Deep down it all felt pretty gross but I was on a path that allotted very few wins so external gratification was like crack for my ego, which of course was always short-lived. If there’s one thing I’ve learned on this seven year soul-searching journey, it’s that nothing outside of myself can give me the ever-lasting approval I was so desperately seeking for so long.
Speaking of crack, I found myself on a legit high in Self-Help-Nerd-Heaven last week, witnessing a conversation about this very topic, between Martha Beck—best-selling author and genius life coach who designed my training program, and Maria Shriver-- former first lady of California, author, journalist, philanthropist, and overall worldclass class act.
I’ve admired both women for years--not only because of the profound influence they’ve had on women and uhhhh the world, but for the graceful, strong sense of self they both effortlessly exude without apology.
So you can imagine my jaw on the floor when Maria admitted how she recently found herself spiraling when Justice Sandra Day O’Connor asked her, “what are you doing?” Maria listed off a myriad of beyond respectable endeavors in my opinion but Ms. O’Connor wasn’t impressed: “You’ve been working on an Alzheimer’s cure for years. It should be cured already. What else?” Finally Maria paused and took both herself and the Justice by a dumbfounded surprise with her most deep and honest truth, “What I’m really doing is building myself up from the inside out to be able to deal with life on the outside. That’s what I’m doing that’s significant.”
No one warned me to bring tissues to this event.
Where was Maria when I was twenty-four?! And thank God for her now at thirty-five because it couldn’t have been more refreshing to hear this sixty-year-old stunning woman on the inside and out, who in my eyes must have all her self-worth issues ironed out, admit her struggle to authentically own whatever it is she’s “doing.”
Yes, she finally came to her essential truth thanks to a little poking from the Justice but like Maria, I’ve found with both myself and my clients, it’s a challenge not to get caught up in a socially respectable answer before tapping into what really matters to us, versus the rest of the world.
What do you do? The question still makes me almost as uncomfortable as the advice to find someone rich does but if someone really wants to know, it's that I surround myself with the people I love, doing the things I love, while I continue to work on fully owning that. As a life coach, I feel added pressure to have it all figured out because I so badly want my clients to not give two shites about what others think, but recognize that it’s more important for me to stay transparent, authentic, and open with myself, my clients, and you, because that's where the true growth takes place for all of us. As far as I’ve come, I’m not completely care-free about what others think, but this week I moved a few steps closer towards that desired freedom thanks to one of the many fabulous gems Martha offered during their talk: “The people who are offended by your truth are not your people.”
I hope whoever my Sugar Daddy ends up being will agree...
It’s not Claire Your Mind Monday without a little sarcasm, right my people?!
So what do you do? I’m kidding. How about, what are you doing for you? Do you care what others think about your choices? Please kindly share your wisdom below if you do not, and if you do care like me, share one step you can take towards NGAF.
Check out this video clip from Martha and Maria’s conversation last week, where Martha—my super heroine, laments on truly not giving a rat’s arse about what others think. She is the real freakin’ deal. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=7sBHV7Eksmc
Also, go to www.mariashriver.com and subscribe to her I’ve Been Thinking newsletters that arrive every Sunday morning—poignant, moving, and uplifting messages that relinquish my guilt for skipping mass. Sorry Mom.