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Self-Worth and the Entertainment Industry

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I tend to put all my self-worth into what I do.   So, if I’m in between projects and not doing anything, I feel worthless.  This is a horrible feeling and one I have tried to untangle myself from for years.  Unfortunately, I think I learned this behavior in my early twenties when I moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting.  And I have yet to truly unlearn it.  The question is, was it learned? Or is it just the make up of my matter?

I used to sit and wait for auditions, thinking if I book something then I will be happy.  This spin cycling mentality has driven me mad in a lot of ways.  I am a workaholic who never feels satisfied.  And I have carried that mentality with me into my producing and writing career.  I think, if this happens then I’ll be satisfied, if that happens then I’ll be happy.  This much anticipated feeling of achieving and its ethereal satisfaction, is like chasing a balloon that keeps drifting farther away and I can never grasp it.

How do we know when we have accomplished “enough?”

That is a question I grapple with daily.  When can I give myself permission to relax?  I notice I am on to the next thing before I have even really given myself the moment to relish in what I have finished. 

I’m sure if I struggle with this mentality, then surely someone else out there must too.

I just returned home to LA after completing principle photography on my sixth feature film.  At first I thought I would be able to come home and take some time off: read a book, lay by the pool, and relish in this great accomplishment.  But within days I was stressing out about “what is next” and how will I get another film off the ground?  And If I sit by the pool reading a book I feel guilty for not doing something.

If our brains are programmed to think a certain way for a long time, how long does it take to unwire our programming?  They say the road to recovery is first acknowledging the problem, then addressing it and then moving forward.  Or can we recover from a mentality we could possibly have been born with it?

What if this crazy mentality is the secret to the great success stories out there?  I wonder if Steven Spielberg ever feels “accomplished?”  Is this determination and drive, just the curse of being an artist, this never-ending desire to do more, to strive further, to run faster, to be better.

Steve Jobs made extraordinary advancements for the technology age, but I wonder if we could ask him: “did you ever feel “accomplished?”   “Did you feel worthy at the end of your life?” What would he say?  As creators maybe we need to be constantly creating.

In a way we can never feel or be done, right?  Cause that would mean we were finished, and we can’t be finished till the lights go out and the ability to do more becomes out of our hands.

So as I sit here writing this, I am grappling with my insides and emotions, asking questions I may never come to terms with the answers. Do I accept my type A personality and embrace the crazy, or do I try desperately to change my internal make up?

I came to the conclusion that finding self-worth in the film industry will keep me from ever truly feeling worthy.

It’s ok that I want to strive to create incredible world-changing projects, but I also must learn to find my worth in not just those accomplishments.  To separate the two dueling sides of my artist’s brain, so I can find peace within myself, and to give myself permission to feel accomplished.  Maybe we are the only ones who can truly give that permission to ourselves and seeking it from people or a career or a business is not possible. Maybe learning this will take a lifetime to achieve, maybe for some of us it’s not possible, maybe I should stop beating myself up for being born this crazy driven person?  Maybe I should pull my pony tail out and just keep running with the wind, maybe I should pat myself on the back and say “well done girl.” 

But in the meantime I see the balloon and must go chase it, cause that’s just who I am, and I’m ok with that.

Alexandra Boylan

About Alexandra Boylan

Alexandra Boylan (Producer, Writer, Actor, Co-Founder Mustard Seed Entertainment and Mirror Tree Productions) Alexandra is an award-winning filmmaker. MirrorTree Productions, has produced numerous feature films, including "Home Sweet Home" and "At Your Own Risk". Her company Mustard Seed Entertainment's film "Catching Faith" had a two year run on Netflix and was on the shelves of Wal-Mart. Her most recent film "Wish For Christmas" sold to Pure Flix Entertainment and Universal Studios Home Entertainment. Alexandra’s script "Switched" was awarded the winner of the Kiaros Pro MovieGuide award for best screenplay. She is the author of "Create Your Own Career in Hollywood: Advice from a struggling actress who became a successful producer" available in Kindle and print on Amazon, and is an active member of Woman in Film Los Angeles where she served on the WIF PSA Board. Alexandra co-collaborated on the book "Thriving in Hollywood!" for msinthebiz.com