Let me tell you something. There are lots of people out there that want to see you fail. If you succeed, that means that they are less than you. People really believe that. They won’t admit it, but they do. You can’t be better than me. So I’m going to tell you how hard it is to be better than me. Or worse, I’m going to tell you that you can’t be better than me because of x, y, AND z. Hopefully, you’ll believe it. Because if you do, you will fail at being better than me. And I will continue to be better than you. They’re ruthless. And they’re everywhere. They hide in your family, schools, friends, and lovers. Even strangers on the street will tell you that they are so surprised by how hard it must have been to do what you did.
I recently read this book about writing non-fiction, as I’m working on several books that will help people in the performing arts. The whole book was about how difficult it is to write. For 200+ pages, I read about how hard it is. There were also all these rules: Don’t tell anyone you are writing a book. Don’t tell people you write. Keep a journal; it’s the only way to succeed. Do this, do that.
Worst of all? It’s hard. It’s really hard. After I suffered through the first 200 pages, I put the book down. I said, “You know what’s hard? Reading you, and that you’re taking me away from writing, right now!”
It reminded me of one of my first teachers. No matter what we did, she told us it was hard, and if we succeeded at it, then we were special. So we worked hard because we wanted to be special. We wanted to get into the next level up, but you know what? It was hard. All though my career, I kept learning about how difficult everything was. Everyone would tell me right before I’d do it. “This is hard.” I loved to challenge people, though. I loved to challenge their definition of “hard.” And I’d do it. I was a prodigy, at least that’s what I was labeled when I kept succeeding at what was hard. It was another way to try to slow me down. Geniuses stop learning because they ‘accomplished it’ (past tense). Same thing with ‘prodigy.’ It makes you stop and decide you were good at it, and you stop. Call it what you will, the truth is that it wasn’t hard. It doesn’t have to be for anyone. And you don’t have to be good at just one thing.
You see, I read that book on Buddhism that you find in hotel nightstands cover to cover. Out of all the beautiful philosophy in that book, I remembered learning this one gem of life (paraphrased): If you can do it tomorrow, that means you have always been able to do it; therefore, you can do it today, if you want it.
So I put it to the test. It started off with balancing in ballet class. I started to balance and I could just hold it. I wrote college level papers junior year… because I could. I learned everything I could about Ballet, then jazz, then the history of dance, then I learned about voice and opera, then I learned about theater, studying everything I could get my hands on, all the while, people telling me that it was too hard to be good at all of those fields, let alone just jumping high.
It was work, but it was good work. Not hard work. Hard work is doing the dishes. I hate that work.
Writing to students about how to fix alignment, what supplements help with vocal fatigue, and learning the mannerisms of a serial killer? It’s not hard. You can do it. I did.
Let’s get back on track: There will be lots of people out there that will tell you that what you’re about to do is hard, and if you want to do lots of them, it is impossible. You can’t do it. Listen to me when I say, “Yes, you can.” It may be work, but it isn’t hard unless you decide it is.
Live life with the attitude that ‘nobody told me I couldn’t.’ You can achieve anything, learn anything, touch anybody, and become anything. Because you have the capability, which means: ‘You always will be, and you always were.”’