“Look, talent comes everywhere. But having something to say and a way to say it so people listen to it – that’s a whole other bag. Unless you get out there and you try to do it, you’ll never know. That’s just the truth.
“If there’s one reason we’re supposed to be here, it’s to say something so people want to hear it. So you’ve got to grab it.
“And you don’t apologize, you don’t worry about why they’re listening or how long they’re gonna be listening for…you just tell ’em what you want to say.”
Who said that? It was Jackson Maine (Jack), the fictional yet all too real character from A Star Is Born. I’ll share the link to the < 2 min trailer version at the end of this blog. You may have already seen it, but it’s still worth 1:45 of your time to see it again, perhaps from a new perspective. Because the words are actually profound in their simplicity. And because perhaps you were too caught up in the hype of Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper the first time around to really hear them. I know that I was.
I have found myself picking up on a lot of words lately. Simple things like this quote from a remake of a remake that I still love, but have found a newfound appreciation for. Hell, I found myself quoting Dave Chappelle in a group video conference recently and…I’m not sure how well that went over, and I didn’t even care.
Because really, I am my own version of Allie. So many of us are. A talent with untapped potential that is only unnoticed because everyone around us says we’re not good enough by whatever standard there may be. For the character Allie, it was her nose. Full stop. For me? I’m not even sure because I never really aspired over at least two decades of my life on this earth to be anything more than what I was allowed to be within the confines of an organizational chart – until now. I do know that that made me uncomfortable. It was a different flavor of discomfort than Allie talks about, but it was definitely not about me putting myself out there. Her circumstance brings a whole new level of being uncomfortable that not everyone even tries to go for.
My discomfort in the past came from thoughts around how I could be perceived as not only good enough but better than others. So that I could maybe get a raise and an “atta girl” from someone who had the power and the means to give me that paycheck; perhaps bump it with a nice bonus. And that just felt shitty. Performance evaluations feel shitty. I’ve been a manager myself and I know what goes into them. I’ve never worked for an elite corporation so by those standards, we have pennies to spread. I have worked as a contractor within state government, where there were zero pennies to spread to the paupers. And we all knew that performance evaluations were bullshit. We just went through the motions.
I’ve had to look people in the eye and tell them they are doing an amazing job but they’re not getting a raise because state government hasn’t given a raise in ten years. It’s easily one of the worst (and sleaziest) things I’ve ever had to do. I didn’t get any more money either. I never did. Not in that realm. I didn’t get paid any more to give those performance appraisals. I was literally a peer. But the way the organization worked, and because I was a contractor, I allowed myself to be signed up to do it with a free lunch and nothing more.
Here’s what I did do. I did put my heart and soul into writing the performance appraisals, because the people I worked alongside deserved that much. While we all knew it was a dance of utter futility, we danced anyway because there seemed to be no real alternative.
We were servants.
And so is the character Allie, because she was working in one of the lowest and thankless classes of the service industry – in a restaurant. Wasting her freaking talent before she was discovered. It’s easy for me to look back on my time and even my paycheck and think I was much better off for having been in a different industry, a different class. But was I? Was I really?
I have no issue with being in the service industry. In fact, that’s where I see myself now. Only it’s a much different type of service. I am honored to be of service to help others to lift themselves up. I realize that’s what I’ve really wanted to do all along. Nothing I do or say personally lifts anyone, but showing them their own freaking potential? That’s everything. What they do with it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with them. Every one of us has our own path.
Every one of us has our one reason.
So you’ve got to grab it. And you don’t apologize.
If I’m being real and raw and honest (always my aim), those two sentences call me the most and so that’s what I’ve decided to do.
I’m not looking to be a rock star. I truly don’t care about fame. This may come as a surprise to the people I spoke to a month or so ago in a networking meeting when we were asked to recall what our childhood dreams were and how those dreams play in to who we’ve become as adults.
Without a second thought, I recalled out loud that as a child I wanted to be an actress. I imagined that I wanted to be famous when I was a kid. Instead, I have found many a safe way to spend my days in a cubicle doing shitty things in exchange for a paycheck. And I said that now I want to be a different kind of “famous.” I don’t need to be on a stage or on a movie screen, but if I’m well known for helping others, then my dreams will have been fully realized.
Give me one reason why it was wrong to say that. Because in that moment, I released myself from all judgments in the room and decided to be real. Given the networks I travel, I’m sure to see these people again. Is it “bad” if they didn’t like what I said that day? Should I really care or worry about it?
When I decided to become Sunny The Life Coach, I also decided that I don’t give AF about what anyone thinks about what I say, how I say it, or how my nose looks. I wrestled for all of 10 minutes wondering what people would think if I dropped f-bombs in my blog posts or my social media posts…and then I shrugged and said, fuck it. THIS is what I have to say, because it’s WHO I AM. The CEO of my life is me, and she is totally down with whatever language works to get my message across the way I mean it to come across. I won’t sugar coat any of it to appease anyone. It’s no longer who I am.
You don’t worry about what other people think. You have something to say. Grab your microphone, spread your wings, and fucking say it. You have something to contribute. Put it out there and stop thinking so much about what kind of reception you may get in return.
Find your reason, own it, believe it, live it, and your tribe will find you.
This is my truth and my belief.
photo credit: Funkographer Childhood Insanity via photopin (license)