“You are responsible for your life. You can’t keep blaming somebody else for your dysfunction. Life is really about moving on.” - Oprah
Now that Ignite the Nite has come and gone (and wow, was it amazing!), we’re back to our regularly scheduled blogging schedule, and that means another Boston Glow Bitch Post. In case you missed Parts 1, 2, and 3 of this series, click through and catch up with the rest of us!
This week, we’re on to Bitch Tip #4: Take responsibility for your own life and your own actions. And work your little butt off.
When I was in college, working towards a BFA in Theater and Musical Theater at Syracuse University, I took part in a truly unique program designed by one of most notable SU alums in the entertaiment industry, Arielle Tepper Madover. Not only is she an incredibly talented, Tony Award-winning producer, but she is a devoted philanthropist and an active advocate of the arts. In this program, she gave a group of actors in my class (myself included) the opportunity to live, work, and study in NYC with the best of the best in the industry. We worked with everyone from casting directors to directors and agents, and I learned more in those few months about being an artistic professional than I did in all of my other years at Syracuse combined.
So why am I telling you about this? Well, while I was there, I got what I consider to be the best piece of advice I’ve ever received regarding my career, from one of the most highly regarded casting directors in NYC. The advice was simple and straight to the point. “Remember this,” he said, “no one called you to be an actor. No one asked you to be here. The world owes you nothing.”
It sounds harsh, but it’s true. For the most part, your career, life, relationship, health, and social choices are yours and yours alone. Yes, sometimes we all get dealt a bad hand in the luck department, but I believe that part of being a responsible adult (at least in theory) is holding yourself accountable for those choices and actions that you can control. I chose a career that on many occasions makes me wish I had one of those giant cartoon mallets with which to whack myself repeatedly on the head, but even in the worst of times, it gives me a little boost to remember that it was my decision to be a musician. Nobody forced me into my life, and if I don’t like something about it, then I have to be the one to change things up. I also have to recognize when my failures are a result of bad luck and when they're a result of my not working hard enough.
There are stories in the news every day about people who have overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles in order to change their stars and I believe it is important to celebrate these amazing accomplishments. I could name hundreds of different examples, but I’d like to start with Oprah Winfrey, who is not only God herself incarnate, but has overcome a life of hardships to emerge as a massively successful, emotionally stable person who has an ability to influence others that is nearly unmatched. From a childhood spent in abject poverty to sexual molestation to drug use to teenage pregnancy, Winfrey’s life presented her with numerous situations that provided her with every excuse for disappearing into a disastrous existence as a social statistic. And what did she do? She became one of the most powerful women on the planet. I don’t need to list her numerous accomplishments, but I will point out what is possibly her most important contribution (in my opinion). By being open and honest with her audience and viewers, by sharing the most difficult details of her life, and by admitting her own faults and failings, Winfrey has drastically changed the way that many people live their lives. She created her own “brand of life,” one that encourages people to be the very best they can, to strive for greatness, and to emphatically ignore any excuse that might prevent them from reaching their full potential.
Again, I will say that I understand there are sometimes instances of great misfortune that we cannot control. But we can always control how we think, and how we respond to situations, good or bad. We can control how hard we work at achieving a goal, whether it be losing weight or getting that promotion. When I think about what people like Oprah have accomplished, it somehow diminished the obstacles I see in front of me as I go for my own dreams, and inspires me to find that place inside of myself that cannot be broken, no matter what. The more I take responsibility for myself, the more in charge of my destiny I become, and I hope you find that the same is true for you.
Now I want to hear what you think. Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!