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THE PLEDGE Month 4: What Life’s Challenges Can Do FOR You


MadelineMerrittBioPicYou are a woman in entertainment, pursuing a career in (INSERT Acting, Directing, Producing, Writing, etc. HERE). You are participating in one of the most competitive industries in the world where your gender is still a disadvantage, making your own road map and working as hard as you can to break through and make your living doing what you love.

There are lots of ways you are working towards your goals. You are building relationships and rising through the ranks with your creative community at your side. You are opening new doorways and you are upping your creative output. You are putting yourself out there through social media, maintaining professional relationships, and getting to know new people in the industry who inspire you. You are taking time for yourself to center and stay mentally grounded. You are prepared for the opportunities that come your way, and you are trying new activities to stretch your creative muscles and spur new growth. You help others in their creative endeavors and give back when you can, knowing everything comes back around in creativity Karma. You are able to support your creative endeavors through a Thrival job that allows you financial stability as well as flexibility. You are a super-hero. Go you! You are getting out of your own way and kicking serious ass!


Yet inevitably life will throw you some serious challenges. The job that used to be your perfect side-gig, now feels unbearable. The hours of preparation you spent on a commercial goes out the window the moment you are delivering the tricky dialogue right down the barrel of a camera. Your long term relationship ends. You feel overwhelmed with the amount of commitments you have made in your efforts to move ahead in your field. You haven’t seen tangible results from your upped creative work ethic and feel discouraged. You have lost a family member or close friend. You are unable to commit to an amazing biz opportunity because of circumstances outside of your control. Worst of all you may feel like life, the universe, or some malevolent force is throwing more than you can handle directly AT you. You feel like a victim in the vicious cycle of life that is preventing you from fulfilling your most cherished dreams. Old triggers and old wounds are rearing their ugly heads, and the gremlin in your self-speak that discourages you is suddenly back with a vengeance.

When set-backs happen to you, you feel attacked, not supported, by life. It is easy to fall prey to a mentality that will allow you to give up or revert to old negative habits. Because all of this is happening TO you, it seems unfair, and outside of your control. However, what is needed in moments like these is a shift in perspective. Hardships will arise: you will lose a job, a relationship, a part. This is an inevitable part of life.

We are given gifts and we are given challenges. What is necessary is that you see the difficulties as opportunities as much if not more so than those synchronistic and seemingly blessed steps forward. Change the dialogue in your head, and stop treating challenges in life as things that happen TO you. Become empowered instead of victimized.

Instead of asking, “Why is this happening TO me?” – Which implies that you are at the mercy of life circumstances and have no control of your reaction to them.

Ask, “Why is this happening FOR me?” –Which allows you to receive the gift from the challenging situation and take back control of your response to it.

If you are a creative, you have been given a gift: that gift is the dream inside you that you have nurtured into a career no matter the sacrifices. You are someone who is willing to see that dream fulfilled, and you are so close to achieving your potential in terms of personal discovery, artistic voice, and entertainment industry success. You are being GIVEN life challenges that bring opportunity. The gift is the opportunity for transformation, opportunity for depth in character and opportunity for a dynamic artistic voice.

If the old job feels unbearable, there is a better opportunity for you and it is time to search for it.

If you choked at the audition you hoped to nail, there is an opportunity for you to change your preparation habits and come in with less nervousness next time.

If your relationship ends, there is the opportunity to know yourself better and focus on personal growth.

If you feel overwhelmed, there is the opportunity to work harder, set goals, and to reward yourself with a vacation that restores your serenity.

If you feel a lack of new biz opportunities, there is the opportunity to make your own: revise the script, shoot a sketch with your acting class, and reach out within your network of collaborators.

If you feel like you are failing, there is the opportunity to compliment other’s achievements.

If you have lost a loved one, there is the opportunity to delve into the emotion of grief, and the opportunity to dedicate your work to their memory.

If you are unable to commit to a project because of circumstances beyond your control, there is the opportunity to shift your priorities and make yourself more available for future projects.

If life gives you all of this at once, well, there is the opportunity to laugh.

On that note, if you think you have it bad, check out this profile on NPR’s The Story of a legendary performance by Tig Nataro (now a comedy album entitled Live) who performed the night she was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer. Her series of horrible mishaps *the cancer diagnosis was ONLY the cherry on top* turned into a career changing opportunity.


So change your perspective, look at mishaps as opportunities, and watch your world change for the better!


Madeline Merritt

About Madeline Merritt

Actress, Freelance Writer - Madeline grew up on stage and has loved telling stories her whole life. From the Bay Area, California, Madeline received her degree in Theatre and Political Science from Northwestern University and moved to Los Angeles in 2008. She recently spent a year in Paris, France but missed the city of Angels and the entertainment industry here. She cares deeply about social issues, including women’s rights, indigenous rights, poverty and the environment. She feels the role of storyteller through entertainment is very important in opening dialogue and creating change in the world. You can see her in The Guest House (available on Netflix, Itunes, Amazon and Time Warner on Demand) and the soon to be released American Idiots, coming to a Redbox near you in June 2013. She is thrilled to continue her journey of collaborating with women in film and television through Ms. In the Biz.