Your biggest dreams: what if you knew you would never get there?

My hubby once said something to me that at the time, completely gutted me.

“I think Jen,” he said, “that for you to actually make it, you have to first of all be completely okay with the idea of not making it*.”

I believe my reply – and I may be paraphrasing here – was: “WHAAAAAAAATTTTT?!”

*Note: whatever ‘making it’ even means, indeed, the topic of an entirely separate post.

But once the smoke had cleared and the entrails were cleaned off the floor, I realised that his saying that wasn’t at all a slight on his belief in me. Rather, it was a gentle nudge in the right direction.

I DID have to be okay with the idea of not making it. Or rather, I still DO! Really. Because:

a) If my entire sense of self-worth is measured purely by how my career is going, then I am inevitably gonna be in for a lot of pain. Maybe even when it’s going well.

b) In needing the success too much, I really do think that we as performers can unconsciously project that desperation/neediness onto the audience. This is not cool. Namely cos:

  • they can smell it.
  • it doesn’t smell good.
  • any way you look at it, neediness is not attractive, onstage or off.

I guess what this all adds up to is the revelation that I really need to be happy with my life as it is. Right now. If this is as good as it gets, that really needs to be okay. I’m not there yet, but I am TRYING!!!

Which brings me to my mother.

My cousin Alice, me and my Mum, 1983-ish

She was a singer. A wonderful singer. Drop dead freaking gorgeous.

She won a quite prestigious song-writing competition when she was just around my age, the prize of which was a recording session in Sydney. She did all this while raising kids single-handedly. How amazing then, that things were beginning to happen for her career wise! It all looked up! Sydney!

She never made it.

At 33 years of age, my Mum suddenly died of an aneurysm.

She never “made it.”

Was she okay with that?

I have no idea, obviously. But I do suspect that had she known things would turn out that way, sure there’d be sadness attached to not seeing her wildest creative imaginings flourish.

I’m sure that drowning that out, however, would be the grief of not seeing her other wildest creative imaginings flourish – us, her kids.

So even now, some 26 years after her death, she inspires me. To go get em for sure, but to remember the little peeps are really what it’s all about. The rest is icing.

The irony of all this is my sneaking suspicion that it’ll only be once I’ve completely let go of the unhealthy attachment to my wildest dreams, that it will actually be a key ingredient to making me a better performer and thus bring me closer to them anyway. Here’s a-hopin!


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  1. August 22, 2010

    You are right- your mother is utterly gorgeous. And she looks just like you.

    X A

  2. Good food for thought there, Jen. I wonder if I’d be a better writer if I didn’t have so much invested in writing a great book? Perhaps.

    Also, you look so much like your mum that I thought that photo was of you until I read the caption beneath it.

    • August 24, 2010

      Interesting, isn’t it? I’ve found that the gigs I’ve done post car accident – ironically, ones which I was preparing myself for them to be absolutely awful given how long it had been between gigs – have been the best I’ve ever done.

      I think there’s a lot to be said for healthy detachment, while still caring about the work. 🙂

  3. August 22, 2010

    Never ‘making it’ has been the biggest fear that has driven me to places of saying yes. Yes in the hope that this one thing would carry me to that place of success.Desperate to teach, desperate to sell,desperate for success. And you are right, neediness is not good….it has driven me to a place of I am not enough and whats wrong with me? why can’t I get this right?

    I had a huge turn around after an art retreat this year and got to a place of knowing if I never created again, I would be ok with that. That I had already touched a number of lives through my creativity and even if it was only one, I had made a difference.

    Funny thing is, I’m the only one putting importance on ‘making it’ with my creativity….others around me accept me as I am and happy for me to just be part of their lives. Maybe this is success?

    Jen this is a touching piece. Thank you for sharing your vulnerability and your inner self…..Here’s to letting go, so we don’t strangle our dreams.

    • August 24, 2010

      Oh Nic, I so totally relate! It’s like you say “Yes!” to everything but in doing so you really devalue yourself. I saw an interview with Robin Williams once where he said that Bette Davis gave him some advice early on in his career: “Say no! Just say no!” He didn’t even specify what she was referring to exactly, but I interpreted it as meaning that you need to be selective, taking no shame in being extremely choosy. It does, after all, make people pay more attention to the things you do say yes to.

      I think!

  4. August 23, 2010

    I loved this post and I love that photo. 🙂 It’s a reminder to me to get a move on!

  5. August 23, 2010

    A really lovely post, Jen, and can I add my agreement with the ladies above to say you are your mum’s double. What an amazing lady; you must be so proud.

    And you’re really right about that sense of neediness and desperation. People aren’t attracted to it. Think about the one thing “rebels” in popular culture all have that people are attracted to – they don’t care. Or at the very least, they LOOK like they don’t care.

    I’ve always found that ability to be completely happy in oneself very admirable. I really wish I had it, and a lot of the work I’ve been doing on myself this year comes from wanting to get closer to that point. I don’t know whether I’ll ever reach it. But I don’t want to spend all the time I have in the past wondering what’s wrong with me and why I haven’t achieved what I’ve wanted to – when in fact I’m pretty OK and have achieved a fair bit.

    Thanks Jen. 🙂

    • August 24, 2010

      Thanks Nat.

      That’s one thing I’ve always really thought would be cool about my thirties (bearing in mind I’m only just beginning to see this blossom, I think) – that it would be about finally really being secure in who I am as a person, to not care about what other people think of me, but just to know that the people who matter in my life love me and the rest is just details.

      I so want that!

      But you know…not in a needy way. Hehe.

  6. August 27, 2010

    This seems to be one of those impossible questions to answer. I think I would write in some form, but maybe not with such drive – if I knew I were never to be published. But so much of life is the journey not the final product. And the friends we meet along the way. And not having ‘what ifs’ hanging over our head when all we can do is sit in our rocking chair. It’s impossible until they sell crystal balls in Walmart. 🙂

  7. Hi Jenny! It is important to let go of want we want so we can set it free. A wise man once said that first you must clearly state your desire but then you must let it go and allow for the universe to provide it in the best way possible. When we’re too attached to something we suffocate it and it can’t breath and grow.

    “It’s not ok to stay until it’s ok to go. It’s not ok to go until it’s ok to stay.” – Dr. Sue Morter

    The same apply to “making it” and “not making it”. 🙂

    Loving blessings!

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