When I was at the gym the other day, I did what I always do: I put in my earbuds, and opened my iTunes. Normally, I just pick an artist I haven’t heard in a while, but this time, I shuffled my selection and left the fate of my workout music up to the iTunes gods. Funny things happen when you shuffle your music. You hear songs you haven’t heard in years. Music has a powerful way of nostalgically bringing you back to a certain time and emotion. One moment I was listening to U2’s “The Sweetest Thing” and remembering my first kiss at a 7th grade dance, and the next, Missy Elliott’s “Get Your Freak On” took me back to late night dance parties in my parents’ basements with my best and oldest friends. I could go on and on. I hear Norah Jones and think of summer nights at my parents’ house, eating dinner on the patio. I hear Joni Mitchel and think of my mom and how she gave me her “Best of” album, while also introducing me to my all-time-favorite song, “Case of You.” I hear Ricki Lee Jones’ “Danny’s All Star Joint” and think of my dad and his obsession with music. I hear Shakira’s “Waka Waka” and think of warming up with my Oswego students when I was a full-time teacher, or dancing with students in Colombia to it. Music is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?
In the middle of my workout, a great song by Sarah Marie Young came on. It brought me back. I very distinctly remember listening to this song on the train in Chicago right after getting my heart broken. The song immediately, and without my knowledge at the time, fused itself to this memory. It feels strange when your body is doing pull-ups in a gym in Los Angeles while your mind is transported to a Chicago train with a broken heart. If anything can put you in two places at one time, it’s music.
I’ve never really given hindsight much thought, but I am lead to believe this “one-person-two-places” idea is exactly that. Music gives me hindsight.
At the time in the train, I felt broken and unable to be put back together. I felt angry, confused, and very, very alone. I felt helpless and hopeless.
Time has passed, and I have put myself back together, but without a doubt, hearing this song brought me back to that time. I do not miss the person who hurt me, but I did, in that gym, recognize and recall the feelings of heartbreak. But what happened next was magic. I compared my life then to my life now, and I realized I am now infinitely stronger, happier, and smarter than ever before. Furthermore, I am now with someone who I respect and love, and who respects and loves me, the way in which we both deserve. I’m not sure I would have appreciated this mutual support if I hadn’t once lived with a broken heart.
I wish I knew this when I was on that train. I wish I knew things would get better, but sometimes you just gotta sit in the muck in order to transform into the person you want to be – the person you deserve to be.
Broken hearts are a son-of-a-bitch. Our hearts break over people, and our hearts also break over our careers. Time and time again, we actors put ourselves out there. We are called to be vulnerable in order to be dissected, judged, and mentally operated on. It’s painful. And to be honest, I don’t think it ever gets any easier. The more we care, the more we put ourselves out there, and the more we are willing and able to get hurt.
So do something about it. Change your mindset. Hindsight, baby. Work to build relationships instead of booking roles. Love the shit out of the work and the process, not just the end result. Blindly believe you are enough. Blindly believe your work is enough. Blindly believe your well-intentioned steps are taking you on the path that is right for you, whether you know it in the moment or not.
Furthermore, don’t settle for mediocre. Not in career, and certainly not in love. You are enough, and enough is better than mediocre. Enough is contentedness. Enough is presence. Enough is musical hindsight. You are enough.
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