From the moment I graduated from the University of Hawai’i, I thought about art, and beauty and how to make that my life. I joined a band. I played music or wrote or watched movies in every free second. It’s what I want. It took a while to get the courage to start sending out applications, resumes, pictures and all the other nonsense I needed to send out, but after the first one, I started sending away.
I sent out resumes to biotech companies, high-end spas, Broadway shows, Hawaiian production shows and even my dream medical school. I was going big. None of the mediocre jobs called me. The outrageous ones called me. Blue Man Group, Legends in Concert, medical school and maybe a few others. (I already wrote about Blue Man Group, I’ll write about Legends and med school soon)
I’m not one to turn down opportunities. I don’t really know where I fit yet, so I’m definitely up for trying everything. I had an audition in NYC and an audition in Hawai’i 10 days later. I didn’t bank on either of these. There’s no way I’m ready. But I went. And I did my best. I didn’t put all my eggs in that basket. I didn’t quit my job. I didn’t think about how to spend my first paycheck. I just went for the experience of it.
I justified going to an outrageous audition in NYC by saying it was a cool opportunity to see New York for the first time. I justified my Legends in Concert audition by saying it’s just such a great opportunity to try something different. The point is, I had no reason to believe that I’d get these gigs. It just wasn’t going to happen, but that’s not why I went.
So I went to these auditions, didn’t get them and went about my day. I wasn’t really upset. I didn’t show much disappointment.
I decided recently, however, that I was lying to myself. I was disappointed. Devastated. Hurt. Broken. Embarrassed. It’s a little stupid. I honestly went into these things with zero expectation, how could I be so upset?
I realized my disappointment in a rather unexpected way. Instead of admitting it and grieving about it, I decided to simply snap at my girlfriend for no reason whatsoever. Actually, I think she was doing something kind for me and I got angry. We were both confused. I apologized and decided something was not right and I had to figure it out.
I spent the whole day trying to pinpoint what my problem was. I returned home later that day and noticed a giant, empty one-gallon massage oil bottle. I use that stuff for my job every day. I used the last of it the week before I went to NYC, but I didn’t replace it. I, instead, got a small bottle, just enough to get me through the rest of the week. That’s when it hit me.
I was SAYING that I didn’t expect to get the gig in New York, but my actions were saying otherwise. I didn’t buy an essential piece of equipment for my job. I wasn’t expecting to return.
I was destroyed by the fact that I had to come back to my same life. Instead of admitting that, though, I just yelled at my girlfriend. Don’t worry, I got her a sweet bouquet of flowers and had a nice apology speech prepared.
Sylvester Stallone said something interesting. He said, “We will never see some of the best artists because they are so sensitive they can’t deal with all of the rejection that comes along with being an artist.”
Those are some profound and scary words for an artist. If I was this upset from not getting gigs that I didn’t deserve, how am I going to deal with not getting gigs that I DO deserve? What happens when I’m ready for something and they still don’t like me? Well, I guess we’ll find out.
However, there is an even more profound message that I left myself in the whole empty oil bottle situation. I had no reason to believe those auditions would go well, but somewhere inside of me, I did believe. That small action of not buying a 3-month supply of essential work equipment showed me that I actually think I can succeed. I genuinely believe in myself.
I worry a lot about being delusional. I don’t want to be the guy who tries out for American Idol and is just laughably awful.* I really don’t want that. The thought terrifies me. But at the same time, if this thing inside of me doesn’t go away, I have to continue, whether I’m terrible or not. It is who I am and I pray that I don’t suck at it; otherwise this is going to be a long and embarrassing life.
*I’m not going to try out for American Idol; I’m a terrible singer.