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Friday, December 23, 2011

Channukah Hints, Jewrican Factoids #4: Don't cheat yourself

Like a great many people, I am ambivalent about success. It probably has something to do with not being 26 anymore: you want something big, but you know how hard life can be and you worry about failure. You want something important...but do you really want it?
 My latest play for example. There was a period of about two months when it was 100% done...but I couldn't get myself to print it out and send it to my agent. I kept saying, "Oh, I'll do it tomorrow. I just have to [fill in the excuse]." I kept having to check the spelling, or the formatting, or "brood." In reality, it was just the idea of sending it to my agent and having her say, "I hate it." (She would have been dead to me, but anyway.)
 But what if she loved it...? That would be scary also, right? The idea that I'm sending my play out into the world and people, strangers, will see my characters, my ideas, my words, brought to life? Whoa... Long-story short: I got over myself, sent it out, and am now actively seeking to get it produced. It was a mixture of ego, whining and financial necessity.
So I have some issues...but I cop to them, and then I go all out.
What drives me crazy, on the other hand, are people who are ambivalent about success, but instead of confronting that demon, they instead do a seriously half-assed  job and then absolve themselves of all responsibility. They say: "Well, I did everything possible. So, it's not my fault." Those people make The Kitten  cranky.
Perfect example: I had a client this summer who put up a website to promote his art, mentioned it once on his Facebook page...and then basta! No mas. Never updated the content, never promoted it--did not in fact even have business cards, till The Kitten and I looked at him in horror--basically, never gave anyone a reason to visit his site after the first time. But he had a website right, so any day now, any day, the Guggenheim people would be calling to ask him what kind of suitcase he wanted them to deliver the cash in. When I suggested to him, that he join the rest of us in 2011, by getting a Facebook fan page, and hey, why not, selling his art on his website, and making use of Twitter, he kept saying, "Yeah, I'll get to it, I'll update it once and it'll be awesome."  Once? Don't hold back, kid.
And yet, when I asked him if he was afraid to be successful, he bristled. "No, not  at all: I'm very ambitious." Huh.
So, here's my hint: do not cheat yourself. It's fine, it's normal, it's human to be fearful of things we want. It's normal to be ambivalent about achieving your dreams...but if you decide to do something, go all the way! Do not cheat yourself. Don't do the minimum and then wonder why nothing happened. Because while you're cheating yourself...someone else has committed to themselves and their dreams and is going hard, kid.
Jewrican Factoid #4: I've lived in a lot of different places--Brooklyn, Taxachussetts, Russia, Washington, D.C., New York--and people always assume I'm something different. In Russia, I swear to god, people would ask me what my nationality was, and then say, "Well, Carlota, I know you can't be American, because you're so well-educated." Oy. In D.C., the cab drivers would always ask me what part of the Homeland (Ethiopia) I was from. Considering how stunning Ethiopian women are, I'd say something like, "The part known as the Upper West Side?" (Zing!) In New York, men assume I'm Dominican. Recently, in Jackson Heights, I was yelled at for not speaking Hindi and "denying my heritage." And yet, I'm just me: Jewrican and proud, nu?

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