Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Grit and Bear It

I have always believed that people are brought into your life for a reason.  That the intersection of your two lives, be it for a moment or a decade, occurred at the perfect time to teach you exactly what you needed to learn at that point in your life.  I always strive to recognize the nature of the lesson and to remember to use whatever it taught me as I forge ahead.  I’m often analyzing the people in my life, searching for things I can learn from them.  Sometimes it’s a lesson of inspiration... sometimes it’s about learning what to avoid.  Both can be used to transform yourself closer to the person, and professional, you truly want to be.  Because every person can teach me something, I’ve found that I now understand and accept that friends come and go and I emerge from the experience (good or bad) without regret. 

For nearly two years, I dated an attorney laden with major (but well disguised) emotional issues.  The experience taught me a great deal of things including how to argue like a professional, how to recognize manipulation, and how to stop giving fifth and sixth chances and just walk the fuck away.  All very helpful lessons, but a longer story than Blogger would allow me space to post.  However, he did also teach me some minor points, like what it really meant to press your nose to the grindstone. 

Attorneys work ridiculous hours under unbelievable pressure and constant deadlines.  They will sometimes disappear into the caverns of their office for weeks at a time just trying to stay on top of it all, sacrificing their weekends and social life.  Twelve hours at the office, seven days a week, slaving over documents in stacks taller than me.  How many actors do you know who put in hours like that for their career?  Okay, how many do you know who tend bar a couple nights a week then sit on their ass and complain that it's just so hard to do it all?  I know a lot like the latter.

I once asked Mr. Ex (when he was Mr. Boyfriend, Esq.) how he had the discipline to keep working so incredibly hard, day after day.  He told me that when it gets really demanding, he just remembers to tuck his chin, grit his teeth, brace himself and power through it.

"What else can I do," he said, "stop going to work?  Not exactly why I get paid six figures.  If I couldn't find a way to push through the pressure, I better find another career."  

After seeing what real discipline and hard work looks like, I knew that if I was honest with myself, most of the time I could be doing more for my career.  The difference between a law firm and Hollywood is that no one is breathing down your neck, slapping on deadlines.  You have to do that for yourself.  You won't get fired for not putting in the time and effort for your career... you just won't get hired in the first place.  And if you are out there working hard, it's going to be a lot to handle.  Those who succeed are the ones who learn to take the beating and keep pushing forward, no matter how much is thrown at them.   

Not even two weeks in, and this new year has already loaded up my plate.  In addition to the 3-month list of career to-dos -- a list that spawned a, "Shit girl, that's one serious list of goals" comment from a friend -- I am also researching and choosing a theater space for my play, auditing and selecting a new scene-study class... and I just made the decision to move, so I'll be apartment shopping until March.  And let us not forget the full-time job, which has been demanding some extra overtime lately.

I'm feeling slightly overwhelmed.

But I'm taking this moment to remind myself to just grit my teeth, stay focused and power through.  If I can't find a way to push through the pressure, I better do something else...  And since I'm not going to do something else... I better find a way to push through the pressure.  It may mean a few sacrifices here and there, like the weekend I just spent doing very little weekending, and the first date I'm going to have to cancel so I can put together a new mailing I intended to do this weekend.  But the hard work will have more pay off than throwing my hands up and complaining that it's too much.  These are the times it's the most important to keep pushing forward.

Because while someone else buckles under the pressure, I'll button up my overcoat, tuck my chin and forge through the storm.  As long as I have a nose, it will be pressed to the grindstone. 

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