When “No” Means “Yes”

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“No” is a very difficult word for me. It can feel very counterintuitive. I hate the idea of missing out on an opportunity. About a year ago, I was cast in a new reality show pilot, and I was thrilled. I’m not at liberty to give details, but let’s just say I was confident there was enough material within the cast that would have made for good material in the reality television world. I was shown the pilot and notified it was picked up by a major network. Again, I was thrilled. I was given the opportunity to be on TV once a week.


As soon as I got home, I watched the pilot and started to feel a knot in my stomach. My gut was speaking to me, and I did not like what it was saying. As I’ve said in the past, the more you listen to your gut, the louder your gut speaks to you. I really did not want to listen to it this time. Again, I was about to be on national television once a week!


So I slept on it and watched the pilot again. The same feelings came back to me. I realized I just did not like the person the network had made me out to be. It’s amazing what they can do in the editing room. The person I was watching on the pilot was simply not me. Words were taken out of context, and while at moments I was playing into the caricature I knew they wanted, I was not happy with myself after seeing what it looked like.


Furthermore, what does Reality TV do to actors? I’m not entirely sure, but I have a hard time believing I would be taken too seriously as an actor after getting my foot in the door that way. More importantly, I did not feel the messages I was sending on the pilot were the messages I wanted to put into the world.


So I made the difficult phone call to the casting director and opted out of the opportunity to continue on the show, and honestly, I felt very sad about it for a few days. That being said, I knew I made the right decision for my career and myself.


Sometimes saying “no” sucks, but as Shonda Rhymes explains in an interview on Fresh Air, “Saying ‘no’ is saying ‘yes’ to yourself.” I really love that. If I had gone against my gut and taken on the role on this reality show, I would have been acting out of fear, and fear-based decisions are never okay. I would have taken it because I would have felt nothing better would come around for me.


But that’s the thing about this business. It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon. 


I’ve said that before in past blogs, and I’m sure it will come up again! I could have gone against my brand and partaken in this reality show. I could have portrayed someone on “reality” TV that isn’t actually me. I’d probably get thousands more followers on Instagram. That would be really fun, actually. But who would those people be following? The person I want them to be following, or the “reality” TV me?


Ok, so maybe I’m being too dramatic. I guess I could be on a reality TV show now. Maybe it wouldn’t ruin my career. Maybe I could even run for President of the United States after I made it big (too soon?) But along with it affecting my career, I’m pretty sure it would also affect my integrity. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with reality shows. I watch them occasionally, and many people have made a fortune out of them. But I’m not them. I don’t have the same gut as they do. No, I am no better or worse than them, but I would be worse than them if I ignored my gut.


It’s all about listening to your specific, unique, God-given gut. 


I want to live a healthy life. Furthermore, I want to be in this business for the rest of my healthy life, and sometimes in order to make that happen, I gotta say “no.”


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Your turn! When have you said “no,” and how did it make you feel? Leave a comment here, tweet me @ericfeltes, or Facebook me!