There's going to come a time when you have to place your bets. Are you going to bet on the traditional ideas of success or are you going to go out on a limb and go after your own idea? Your own project? Your own standard of success? This decision is harder than it looks. It's rough and tumble out there on the field of choice. It's lonely. The only anchor you have is your intuition and a bit of hope, if you're lucky. This past week I was out there in the wilderness. Am I going to bet on myself or not? And what does that even look like? Betting on yourself can mean:
- saying no to commercial success.
- forgoing income for space and time to do your work.
- saving up money to invest back into your own project.
- getting more excited about how much you can produce rather than how much prestige you can gain.
In other words, betting on yourself can feel like you're going against the grain. That's how it felt for me, at least. This week I had to make a decision to get ultra-oh-shit serious about my work. I have worked hard at traditionally acceptable ways of being an actor. I have hit audition after audition and had that pay off; but now, at dirty thirty, I'm somewhere brand new. I'm uninterested in the old way of pursuing what it is traditionally understood as theatrical success. I'm after something much bigger. I don't want to create a new role on stage, I want to create a new genre of performance altogether.
I'm going to pause here because I know I sound nuts. I'm acutely aware of how arrogant this might be. And yet, this is my new mega-dream. My new and nuts mega-dream. How does one even create a new genre? Don't you need money and influence? And shouldn't you be super smart? And shouldn't there be evidence in the universe that you are the right person to do this? Those questions circled like vultures around my mega-dream last week and I came to the conclusion that money, influence, smarts, and evidence would be extraordinarily helpful at this stage of the game. But I don't have any of those things. So I had to place my bets. Was I going to believe the traditional idea that money, influence, smarts, and evidence are necessary to make a substantial impact, or was I going to believe in the X factor: the instinct that I know exactly what to do, and have an oddball assortment of skills that will be essential to creating this thing, and the community of people I'm a part of who might just have the attributes I lack?
I hemmed and hawed.
A few schedule changes and out-of-nowhere opportunities shimmied their way into my line of sight.
I saw a path, took a breath, and ante'd up.
So I wish I had an epilogue for you right now, a tight little bow I could wrap around the end of this anecdote. But that's what placing bets is all about: the big question mark. I don't know how all my decision-making will turn out. Maybe I'll get thirty years older and think "Dammit Court, that was the wrong choice." But once I jump, I hurdle as fast as I can forward, attempting to dodge the asteroids of Resistance and self-doubt. Because placing my bet was the hard part, and now all that's left to do is get to work.