Pride at Work
It’s award season and I’m up for consideration. In fact, I’m up for double consideration. I’ve been working on a TV show and my producers want to nominate me for two Canadian Comedy Awards; for best comedic actress AND best TV writer.
This is a big deal. And I have every reason to feel good about my work. I’m in my late twenties. This is the second TV show I’ve starred in, and it’s been a much better experience than my first.
On the first show I was on, I was miserable. I compared myself with my costars, failed to connect with the writers, and was haunted by a fear of being fired the entire time. In short, I was so riddled with insecurity I never appreciated how lucky I was to be a working actor. So a few years later, when I landed another TV show, I promised myself things would be different.
And, thank God, they were.
On this TV show, I actively chose to have more fun on set. I meditated and prayed every day. This adjustment in my attitude enabled me to thrive on set. Because I wasn’t putting pressure on myself to be great, I was able to trust myself, and I ended up doing good work inspite of not trying to impress anyone. In fact, the network liked me so much that when the show was renewed, I was asked to be a writer on season two. Not only did I learn about writing for TV, I had a blast with the writing team, and when we started shooting, it felt so cool to act in episodes I literally created. I became friends with my boss and my co-workers. I found a circle of people in the industry who believed in me, both personally and professionally. It was a fulfilling, exicting time.
So when my boss said he was going to submit me to be nominated for two Canadian Comedy Awards, he was obviously very surprised when I told him no.
No. I don’t want to be nominated, I said. Yup. I took myself out of the ring. And no one does that, especially in Canada.
Canadian entertainers need all the awards we can get. And it’s not like I didnt want an award, I did, and I needed one, because I was planning to immigrate to America and awards look good on greencard packages. But despite my need, I refused to be nominated.
Because my pride got in my way.
You see, the way the Canadian Comedy Award nominations work is a group of local comedians, the board, get together and watch all the submission tapes. I knew this. I knew that I was going to be judged by a group of my peers. I had no specific reason to beleive they would vindictively refuse to nominate me, but at the time, I had it in my head, that people didn’t like me. I believed other actors and comedians were jealous of me that they wanted nothing more than to put me in my place, and obstruct my success. And I didn’t want to give them a chance to reject me, so I rejected myself instead. I refused to be considered for nomination, because I didn’t want to give my suspected enemies a chance to wound my ego.
Looking back, this is so embarrassing. There was no reason for me to think anyone in the comedy community had a vendetta against me. When I first started acting, I had a few beefs with people, but at this point it is six years later. I don’t have any outstanding issues with people, I couldn’t even name someone I felt antagonized by. And I didn’t even know who specifically was on the board. And yet I was sure there was a silent, plotting cabal of people, so obsessed with me, that they wanted nothing more than to destroy me. My pride was paranoid. My pride was arrogant. My pride was delusional. It’s ironic because I thought I had all these enemies, when really the only one getting in my way was me.
This is an obvious example of how my pride distorted my worldview. It pains me to think of all the big and small choices I made in my twneties because of the false narrative my pride told me. Let my story be a cautionary tale to you.
I see pride negatively affecting so many talented comedians. Instead of hanging out at the club and becoming friends with the booker, many comics play it safe, and only go to open mics. For them, it’s safer to call the club hacky and working comedians social climbers, then it is to write an act that a paying audience actually wants to listen to. I’ve seen so many funny comics plateau because they befriend untalented people, instead of hanging out with ambitious people who will actually help them grow creatively and professionally. It’s more comfortable to be the funniest person in your circle of friends, than to deal with a wounded ego when a friend is more successful than you. I can spot these people from a mile away, because these are the same weak, insecure choices I made when I was a comedian in Toronto.
It wasn’t until I moved to America, and I learned from my husband who is a well liked comedian, that there is power in being a civil, pleasant person. I learned from Dusty that when you assume people like you, they tend to like you. But when you assume people don’t like you, it actually comes across like you don’t like them, which in turn makes them not like you. I wasted so much time and missed out on so many friendships, collaborations and work simply because I assumed, falsely, that no one liked me.
Now that I’ve seen so many people rise and fall in entertainment, I can say with conviction, it is not the most talented people who make it. It is the people who are talented AND ALSO believe in themselves. And believing in yourself is action. It’s an intentional choice you make every day. So if you're someone who thinks that everyone hates you, you are wrong. Everyone does not hate you. But one person does for sure. You hate yourself. You really hate yourself if you take yourself out of the ring before someone else can. Stop doing that. Risk rejection. Dare to be embarrassed.
Your pride is not protecting you. Your pride is a conspiracy theory that is sucking you into a web of lies. Break free. De-radicalize yourself from the fasle image you have given yourself and start assuming you are worthy of friends and success. Because you are.