Elaine Stritch said this sometime before she died: “The terrifying thing in my life is that I am just an actress. And I have to keep pushing it and getting approval, approval, approval or I don’t think I’m worth two cents. And I am starting to get over it, thank God. And I’m just sad because I don't have many years left and I wish I had a longer space of time to think that Elaine Stritch is OK.”
We have to keep reminding ourselves that we don’t need anyone’s approval to validate our existence. You deserve to be here not by what you achieve or do or accomplish; or who you are as an actor or how well you audition or how popular you are. You’re okay just by being who you are.
Just by being here.
We need to learn how to spend less time and energy trying to win people over and getting people to like us who don’t matter. I remember in my 20s how I would try to get people who I would defer my power to, to respond to me in some way. I was so desperate for their approval that coincidentally, my own desperateness was never going to get them to approve of me.
But now that I look back I see that those people I was willing to jump through hoops for didn’t contribute to the value of my life at all. The people who mean something to us and make a difference—who can assist us or advise us or inspire us—are probably the people who are still in our lives. That’s the irony. We’re trying to hustle people whose opinions really don’t matter. We think they do because we don’t have a strong enough opinion of ourselves. So we seek outside of ourselves to get someone to say, “We like you,” or “you’re talented,” or, “you’re a superstar!”
That’s a faulty premise, because everything is subjective. For each person you’re trying to get to “like you,” they may or may not, based on the most arbitrary of reasons.
I get it. We’re in a business where we want people to get our work and to see our talent and to hire us. But that still must start from a place of confidence and trust that regardless of what other people say, we have something going on that’s of value and interesting and cast-able. And sometimes that takes time to not only develop, but also time for people who will get you to…well, get you.
The distinction here is to realize that you are the star of your own movie but you keep casting yourself as a bit player.
We do this in innumerable ways. By not asking for what we need, by not speaking our truth, by not asking for help, by not standing in our power and owning how amazing we already are.
And when I say be a “star” in your life, I’m not referring to being famous or making tons of money. A student of mine half-jokingly asked, “Well what are you referring to then?”
Being a star means showing up in life, getting present, acting with integrity, being honest, getting vulnerable, making connections, taking the leap, being kinder, making a difference, and leaning toward compassion.
When you do this, not only will you be a star, you’ll stop searching for people’s approval—because the person’s recognition you’re most seeking you’ll already have won: your own.