In my past when I was an actress, I wanted to be seen as an amazing contribution to the stage, screen, and television. I wanted to stand out from the crowd. I wanted to be extraordinary. When someone is extraordinary, I thought, magic happens all around him or her. I wanted that magic.
So I waited. Extraordinary people don’t have to “do” anything, I reasoned.
They just are so wonderful others are automatically attracted to them like a magnet. They can’t help themselves. Success is easy. I waited some more.
But nothing was happening. Sure, I got some parts and was told I was good but nothing BIG. See, when you are extraordinary only BIG things should happen to you. Small things are beneath you. If you are extraordinary, I figured, I would never have to wait in the line at the Department of Motor Vehicles again. So I waited some more.
I began to worry. Maybe I am not so extraordinary. Well, I reasoned, if I am not extraordinary I will never have a chance on the big screen. Only extraordinary people are chosen. If it doesn’t happen soon…and I waited some more.
Sure, I went to classes to get ready for the big day when someone would finally notice I was extraordinary. I auditioned. I performed on stage. All in an effort to do my time, to earn my right to be discovered, to show the world I was ready to work hard darn it! I was ready. And I waited some more.
And then it hit me. While I had been waiting to be discovered, some very ordinary people I had known along the way were working much more than I was. These very nondescript individuals had lived and died to act. Acting was in their blood. They worked hard no matter what they were doing. They scrubbed the stage and sewed costumes and worked the sound. Anything to get the show ready so they could perform because they just loved to perform. Period. Nothing else.
I started to look at the difference between them and me and to my astonishment I came to the conclusion that my desire to be extraordinary was actually keeping me from working. When I went to an audition, I didn’t say hi because I thought you didn’t say hi when you are extraordinary. Instead, people should notice you. Well, nobody was noticing. And I was alone on the side of the stage watching the normal people work.
I was devastated. But I got it. When you focus on being extraordinary, it automatically separates you from other people. Attempting to be extraordinary, forces you to judge what extraordinary would be in that particular marketplace and then your job becomes to replicate that model. Yet, as I found out, extraordinary people don’t copy anyone at all. They are unique onto themselves because they are themselves, their normal everyday self. Oh, did that bring up my fears.
I was afraid if I had no one to be like, who would I be? If I didn’t strive to be extraordinary, would that mean I would become indifferent and average? If I gave up extraordinary as my goal, would that mean I would be just like everybody else?
That I discovered, was the link to the truth. Yes, I would be just like everybody else. But that was the good news. I was already just like everybody else because we are all the same only with different fears and different desires, but underneath just a human being human. Thinking I was different, was keeping me separate from the very people I wanted to connect with, keeping me from myself.
I realized my job was to embrace the very thing I feared. My job was to be ordinary. That meant doing the work necessary to get to the next step. See, extraordinary people, I thought, get to skip steps. That is not necessarily the truth. Because extraordinary people are just ordinary people willing to share their unique qualities, stand for who they are and believe in something. Sometimes it is a large purpose like Martin Luther King Jr. or Gandhi, who started very ordinary by the way, and other times it is as simple as a belief in your self.
Ordinary people are not afraid to feel or to think or to act. They know life can be challenging, they celebrate their wins and mourn their losses. Yet, people who are ordinary are willing to share more of who they are, not less (as I was doing in my attempt to be extraordinary). They have far fewer rules than the extraordinary person I was attempting to me. Far fewer rules meant far more freedom.
Since I have embraced ordinary, I left acting behind realizing I was doing it for the wrong reasons and doing anything for the wrong reasons will never make you happy. I followed my path to coaching which led me to speaking which led me to writing. All because I was willing to do the work, stay the course and be happy no matter whether I accomplished anything magnificent or not.
See, the secret of ordinary people is they live for the doing not the attainment. They live for the process and not the results. Their happiness comes from inside, not without. And all extraordinary people that come to my mind, if you read their biographies, would probably read something like the following: “I am just an ordinary guy/gal.” Because true extraordinary people do nothing but be themselves. They don’t try to be special; they become special to the rest of us because they so courageously embrace their true nature. And let’s face it, we are all unique, amazing creatures and the minute that we really get that…really own that…we are free to be our extraordinary ordinary self.
So are you ordinary trying to be extraordinary? Frustration is sure to follow if others don’t notice you. Or are you ordinary, following your heart the best way you know how and finding happiness where you may? I am happy to say I am ordinary and darn proud of it.
Who have you been trying to be lately? I dare you to be yourself.