talent. luck. discipline.

The hardest part about the career game I’m playing right now – the one where I have this day job that doesn’t exactly do it for me so that I can support the dream career I’m working toward in the meantime – is the waiting.

Sometimes I feel like I’m over here treading water from 9-5 while I figure out the rest of it. And sometimes I wonder how long that’s gonna take.

I know it’s different every time I post – I like the day job, I hate the day job, I can live with it, it’s really healthy for me, I want to kill myself. And as inconsistent as that might be for you who are witnessing this journey, it feels just as inconsistent for me. I really do hate the job one day and feel grateful for it the next. It supports me financially and affords me the opportunity to keep pursuing my goals, but not without a serious drain on my mental and emotional state.

I guess that’s called a catch 22.

Lorne Michaels’ was recently on “Master Class” on the OWN Network (yes!) and he said something that has since been running through my mind. He said that the three things required to make it in this comedy world are talent, luck and discipline. And then he added that even when you have all three you’re not guaranteed to succeed, but you have to have all three to even have the option.

Heartwarming and terrifying all at once. Of course there are exceptions to his rule, but he’s right. Talent and luck are obvious, and anyone I know personally who has been successful as an actor, writer, comedian, etc. worked very hard to get there.

Lying in bed last night, a list of my own popped into my mind. Not necessarily a list of things one needs in order to be successful, but traits that I personally need to keep cultivating to stay sane.

Patience, trust, optimism and discipline.

Maybe not it’s not the humblest move to selectively edit wisdom from the guy who created Saturday Night Live, but you won’t tell him, right?

The thing is, sometimes I wonder WHAT THE EFF I’m doing. I’m 30 years old and I’m still playing dress up, playing make-it-up, putting on little performances, little skitties, writing stories and giggling with my friends. I never grew out of it. And I want to make a CAREER out of that? Because I am who, again? Someone special? Or just another one of the people in the sea that is this industry, fighting to earn a paycheck.

But on the flipside (and drawing from that necessary optimism), I remind myself that there are jobs to be had in this industry, I’ve watched so many of my peers move to the next level, I get to do what I love almost every night of the week, and most importantly, nothing is more exhilarating to me than performing and writing.

Last Friday night, we did an HST show with only half the team because the other half was out of town. We play each other’s parts all the time but I was nervous about one particular sketch. I’d never done it before and it’s kind of intense. But I did it. It went well, people laughed and enjoyed themselves, and felt like a million bucks afterward. It reminded me how capable I am, and that I need to trust myself more often. It also made me feel like I’d just run a mile or eaten a really incredible meal.

I felt filled up. What other information do I really need.

So, I’ll pray for patience, trust, optimism and discipline…and the wisdom to defer to Lorne Michaels’ list too.

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5 thoughts on “talent. luck. discipline.

  1. Here’s the deal — those three things that he said? That’s what it takes to “make it” in ANY career. Have you read outliers? It talks a lot about having to have 10,000 hours at something in order to be an expert, but then really a lot of it is right place / right time, etc. So I think that is true across all fields. And yes, you can be successful, but without patience, grace, virtue, personality, people will probabyl think you’re an asshole, which means you’ll only ever be successful to a point… the rest usually relies on being well-liked and kind. 😉

    Or at least funny. Which I know you’ve got down.

    Remember to trust your instincts.

  2. I completely understand how you feel and I am in the same way right now. But this is all part of the journey – as I keep telling myself (and you yourself)- and a large part of the journey is to take it and live it day by day. All of this is helping you clarify and prioritize what exactly you can and cannot have in your life- the non negotiables. And that clarity is a rare and beautiful thing to be able to explore. xox

    • D, thank you for this thoughtful point: “All of this is helping you clarify and prioritize what exactly you can and cannot have in your life- the non negotiables. And that clarity is a rare and beautiful thing to be able to explore.”

      You are so right. The opportunity to seek out my own non-negotiables IS a rare thing on its own right.

      Have a great trip, lady!

  3. Ahhh yes – I can relate to this so much! At the grand old age of 32, I quit my oh so serious job in finance to be a photographer. And what are my pictures about? Flying and dreaming and fairy tales and playing dress up. WTF? If I worried about what other people think, I might be concerned that I was having a serious midlife crisis.

    The day job is just that, the day job. You don’t need to worry about whether you like it or hate it. It’s just what you need to do to get to where you want to be. I find great comfort in Lorne Michaels’ words actually. If I work hard at something I’m good at, and I put myself in a position to get lucky, that’s all I can do. Whether I succeed or not, is out of my hands, I just have to give myself the best chance I possibly can. For some strange reason, that makes me feel better.

    The best advice I can give you is what I always say to myself when it feels like I’m getting nowhere – Just Keep Going. xx

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