The Importance of Being Earnest: Aside from the Witticisms of Oscar Wilde

“To be natural is such a very difficult pose to keep up.”

I often over-think interactions with others. I read into not only what’s said but also what goes unsaid. It’s something that acting has taught me to do –scratch beneath the surface. Usually, people aren’t going to come right out and tell you exactly what they’re thinking, and sometimes they’re not going to admit it to themselves. I guess that’s one of the beautiful things about being alive – the complexity of the human existence.

Especially in this day and age, with the bombardment and overt presence of social media, we’re even more careful with what we share with each other. There’s a veneer of happiness, without delving into what’s underneath the surface. We want information quickly, and we don’t want a lot of detail. This prevalence of insincerity is what makes genuine enthusiasm, or earnestness, important.

When you see it or hear it, it’s almost like striking gold. There’s this purity about someone who is earnestly wanting to do something or be something.  

It can also be a very tender thing for one to have earnest goals and intentions. There is a gentleness there that needs to be cultivated. I’d like to think that genuine intentions and interactions are rewarded — maybe not immediately or in the way that you initially expected. I think the majority of people want to help, and when you voice what your heart wants, or what your soul wants, people will do whatever they can to help you achieve that. I’m not saying that they’re going to just hand over the keys to the castle, but they may know someone who knows someone. No matter what industry or business you find yourself in, connections and networks are the keys to opening new doors. You still have to work hard and make the effort, but one of the things that links highly successful people is that they aren’t afraid to stop and ask someone else questions or have conversations. It is through those conversations, that the next steps start to form.

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Pride & Prejudice: Not Specifically About the Novel

“It’s a truth universally acknowledged…” that to become “completely and perfectly and incandescently happy,” you’ve got to have a little pride and forget a lot of prejudice. 

Today, I came home to find a package. An ordinary manilla envelope with ink streaks across its unassuming body. I knew what was inside, and I didn’t want to open it. 

Much like how I didn’t want to order it in the first place. 

Together we sat in our quiet embattlement. 

As you probably know, I recently self-published a poetry book, entitled One Whole World. The idea came about rather unexpectedly, but I felt like I needed to do something. I’ve always been an over-achiever, and I felt that after graduation, I didn’t really have a token of achievement. Growing up, I’d received report cards, awards, recognition, and eventually a degree. I could trace my academic path like a carefully constructed trail of breadcrumbs. After graduation, there’s not so much pomp and circumstance. Sure, I do things. I’m auditioning. I’m working. I’m learning. However, I felt like I didn’t have something tangible. Call it a quarter-life crisis, but for some reason, writing these poems made sense. 

I finally felt freed. I felt like I knew my purpose. I had set deadlines and goals. I was writing again. I had ideas that I wanted to express. I felt like I was finding myself, but it was more than that. I was giving myself permission to be who I was all along. I let myself unleash. 

However, I’m prejudiced against myself. I second guess and I worry that it’s not good enough. Why should I share my thoughts or ideas with the world? Who would care? Do I really have anything special to share or am I just adding to the noise? I was putting all this time into my poetry project, and I felt like kind of an idiot. I felt like a charlatan. I felt like I wasn’t good enough to really do this. 

What changed? 

I started telling people. “I think I’m going to put together a poetry book.” 

Then I started asking questions :“Do you have any advice about self-publishing?” or “Do you mind proofreading my work?”

Incredibly, people were excited for me. They were generous and kind. I felt like a little kid sharing her scribbles with this world, and instead of being told the brutal truth that she was proudly displaying a page of wiggly lines, people saw my scribbles as I saw them: beautiful. 

They were encouraging. They were impressed. They may have been blowing smoke up my you-know-what, but I appreciate it, nonetheless. It gave me the confidence to continue, and the courage to share it further. 

I put my work on Amazon, and I was excited. Then, people started sending me pictures. Their books were on their way. Then a few weeks later, they had the copy in hand. I felt a familiar dread start to gnaw at my stomach. I felt like Dr. Frankenstein. What have I done? Why did I open my mouth? What was I thinking? 

People are going to hate it. There’s going to be a mistake or several. People are going to want their money back. I should just give them their money back. Why did I decide to sell these scribbles in a book? I’m a fraud. I’m the one behind the curtain, and I don’t have any more magic up my sleeves. 

My anxiety was back. 

My self-prejudice was back. 

I realized I needed to also get a copy of my book. It’s silly to not have a copy of your own book. I had to know if it had all gone wrong. I begrudgingly ordered my author’s copy, and tried to forget the estimated arrival date. Still more people asked me about my book or told me they had ordered their copy. 

I should have felt excited. I just felt guilty. 

And back to tonight, I opened the pesky little package, and out I pulled my book, and I started to cry. Not anxious tears or sad tears, but happy tears. I gently fondled the cover, and a great sense of pride fell over me.

I made this. I put time into this. Perhaps, there’s parts that are rudimentary, but there’s a lot of good in it, too. Some may find it flawed, but to me, it’s perfect. I’ve never seen something so beautiful, and I was reminded of the time I was first cast in a play or when I first booked a SAG role. I had worked hard, and something good came from it. 

I had so much doubt and anxiety over nothing. Everyone I’ve spoken to has been incredibly kind and encouraging. I’ve been incredible fortunate that I wasn’t met with disparaging remarks. It was my own dumb brain that was causing me the most pain. 

“Oh Jane…I’ve been so blind.”

I was the only obstacle in my way. It was my own preconceived notions of what a “writer” is or what makes something “worthy.” We all start somewhere, and we’ve got to start somehow so don’t chastise yourself for trying. Champion your efforts. Take pride in the fact that you’re doing something. You’re putting yourself out there. You did the damn thing. 

It’s too easy to berate yourself. It’s harder to be kind to yourself. It’s hard to look at your scribbles and decide that you want to share them with the world, but you didn’t used to have that problem. At one point, as a young adolescent creature, you scribbled with a crayon on some jagged piece of paper, and you marched forth to display your work.

“LOOK WHAT I MADE!” You pronounced, and waiting for people to applaud. It wasn’t a question of if it was good. It probably got lost within a week or two with more papers and colors and scribbles. It didn’t matter. You kept doing it because you were having fun. You loved creating it. It was fun to let your imagination run free across a piece of paper. When did we start judging ourselves for this process of creation? 

If you’re nervous about starting a new project or anxious about putting yourself out there, have faith that it will be worth it. 

Will some pretentious art critic decide it’s worth a million bucks? Will some publishing company give you a book contract? Will you be invited to be on The Tonight Show? Probably not, but why do we define success with such high stakes? Why it it the pinnacle or the dumps? What happened to the middle ground? 

Be proud of what you create, even if it’s not perfect. Even if it doesn’t quite meet your expectations. It’s part of your journey. Journeys are even more important than destinations. Celebrate the small successes, but also be honest with yourself. Don’t force yourself down a path that you’d rather not go down. Go the way that makes you happy. Do the things that can make you feel proud of yourself. 

Pride isn’t always a vice, but a very important virtue. It is natural and normal to feel scared about starting out, but let me tell you, you can do it. I believe in you, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. If you stop hiding in yourself, you may find that you have a whole crowd cheering you on. 

Don’t be embarrassed. Start to spread your wings. The fall is scary at first, but wait until that wind hits your wings. It’s bliss. It’s so much fun to soar in the direction of your dreams. Forgive your self-prejudice. Keep your chin up — looking toward your future. 

Look at you fly. You didn’t think that you could at first, but you did. I’m so proud of you, and I hope you are, too.


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A very special thanks to those who’ve supported me in this endeavor. Your kindness and generosity mean the world to me. I feel very fortunate to have so many wonderful, beautiful people in my life. I hope that you enjoy the book, and I hope that you feel courage to go after what you’re afraid to voice. Thank you so very much for helping me on this journey and nudging me out of my nest. I hope I can return the favor. 

Majors Don’t Matter

Unless you are going into some highly specified field, your major doesn’t matter. Even if you major in some highly specified major (medicine, rocket science, etc), it doesn’t disqualify you from pursuing something entirely different post graduation.

I have a BFA in Drama with an Emphasis in Acting from The University of Oklahoma (Boomer Sooner!) This was the best decision I could have made.

Nevertheless, throughout my time at college and even in the real world, I’ve heard a lot of grief about my major:

“It’s not like it’s hard. My major is way more difficult.”

  1. Don’t test me because I will gladly go toe to toe with anyone on an academic test. Don’t assume that because I’m artistically inclined, I lack skills in other academic areas. One of the reasons I love acting is because it challenges me in ways that no other academic area ever did. There’s no right answers in acting. It’s a lot of opinion and learning how to navigate different opinions.
  2. It’s a different kind of hard. Don’t get me wrong. We put in late night cram sessions at the library. There were difficult tests and difficult papers. However, you aren’t just taxing your brain; you’re toying with your emotions. You’re reading scripts and learning the psychology behind the character and where that intertwines with your own. In this scene, you have to break down in tears. In this scene, you have to delve into the cruelty of humanity. In this scene, you have to be blinded with rage. How do you do that in a safe way? How do you do that in a convincing way? How do you do all that in one day?

“It’s not a real major. You don’t learn anything. I learned your entire major in one intro to acting class.”

  1. False. You learned the beginning. The beginning always seems easy. Learn your lines. Don’t stand with your back to the audience. You’ve just reached the tip of the iceberg. I took an intro to weather and climate class. Does that make me a meteorologist? No because that’s not how that works.
    I didn’t just learn how to be an actor, I learned how to run a business. A business of me. You have to make sure your product is working for you. How can you improve your business? How can you improve yourself? How do you kick-start your business?
  2. Besides focusing on the business of you, you also have to focus on the whole “you.” My major taught me to be a better person. We were encouraged to “feed our souls.” As much work as there is in creating a business, you have to find a balance. You have to take time for yourself. You have to find time to enjoy life. Go to a museum. Watch your favorite movie. Sit and look out at the stars. Go on an adventure. You have one life to live so - LIVE IT! There’s a time for work, but there also needs to be time to play. Be protective of this time. It’s just as important as work time.

“You can’t find a job in the ~ REAL WORLD ~ with that major.”

  1. False. You know what matters in the “real world”? Experience. Recommendations. How you sell yourself in an interview. You know who generally do a good job at selling themselves? Actors.

That all being said, people will still harbor pre-conceived notions. Those people that judged you in college still exist in the *R3aL W0rLd* They’re going to think that they’re better and more qualified because they sat in actual desks for most of their classes.

I went into a job interview once where the interviewer looked at my resume. Looked at me. Then said, “I don’t know why you’re here.”

This was a marketing position for a fiduciary company. The interview had been scheduled for me through a staffing firm. To be honest, I didn’t know why I was here either. I also didn’t know why you scheduled the interview without looking at my resume first, fiduciary dude.

Nevertheless, I smiled and said, “It’s clear that this company is on a fast-track to success, and I think it’s important to surround yourself with successful people.” I then proceeded to quote the website and point out my strengths and experience. I answered more questions. I asked my own questions. I gave a firm handshake and left. As I was driving home, I got a phone call offering me the position.

I turned it down.

I changed fiduciary dude’s mind. I showed him that as an arts major, I was perfectly qualified for the position. When faced with people with pre-conceived notions, the best you can do is change their mind. You’re going to have to prove yourself time and time again, but so will any other major.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you majored in. You can take classes in the real world to help develop other skills. You get experience. You continue to develop. Getting your diploma isn’t like flipping some magical switch. You aren’t suddenly an all-knowing adult who won’t make mistakes. You’re just starting out on your journey. You’re still learning. You’ll make mistakes.

If you’ve just graduated, you’ve accomplished a great deal up to this point. Celebrate your success! Take a moment to realize how far you’ve come. Now look forward and see how far you’ve got to go. What are your goals? What are your aspirations? What’s your first step to achieving them?

Hopefully, you’re degree gave you tools to achieve those first steps.

I know mine did.