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Why You Need to Get Back Up


Japanese-proverbI’ve been watching my 14 month old niece learn to walk for the past several months. Actually I’ve been blessed to watch her grow daily since a few days after her birth in April of 2012.  Like every infant, she transitioned from her back, to rolling on her stomach, to pushing up with her arms, to crawling and now – in her final stage pre-walking – doing the speed knee walk. She walks so fast on her knees that sometimes she falls down – and hard.  She walks with assistance and even then – falls hard.  She tries to stand on her own – and falls. She has bruises on her knees, shins and even her face. She’s cut her chin (on my watch I might add), she’s cut her lip. She falls down at least 20 times a day.  But she gets back up.

Watching her has been incredible. Why is it that a child – a human being that has been in physical existence for a mere 14 months – possesses more courage and faith in herself and what she desires than many of us adults?

Think of this for a moment.  For a baby learning to walk – her desire to move, to grow, evolve, improve her greatness, to have freedom – that desire is greater than the momentary pain of falling. It is so much greater that she immediately gets back up. Even with tears. They stop and she gets back up. She doesn’t hold on to the pain of her last fall. The moment is done and she’s let it go and moved on. She tries again. It is instinct, it is natural, it is intuitive.

Yet for many adults, the fear of falling often keeps us from even starting in the first place. Or we try, then fall, and then feel stunted and afraid to try again. We are reluctant to get back up, using things outside of ourselves as the reasons to justify why we can’t.  What I often hear in our industry is: It’s so hard; it’s only for lucky people, pretty people, skinny people, young people, popular people, people who know people… When really it’s because we won’t let it go and we’re too chicken sh-t to get back up.

When Helenna and I first spoke about me writing for Ms. In the Biz, the theme that came up was how humanitarian work has helped with my career in film and television. One of the greatest gifts activism and humanitarianism has given me is to shift my perspective: to see the ‘bigger picture’, see things from a different point of view and get out of my bubble.

This film industry is interesting. It’s easy to get caught up in the world of “cant’” and “it’s SO hard”.  I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t bought into that script of falsehood at least once in my career.

Over the past 6 years of travelling with Caleb’s Hope, I’ve seen ‘hard’. Being a refugee is hard, being a prisoner of war is hard, not knowing how you will feed your children is hard, being a slave is hard, dying of AIDS is hard, being mutilated because you’re a girl is hard, genocide is hard.

Being in the film industry – by your choice – is not “hard”. It’s an incredible journey you have chosen to take full of ups and downs. How you navigate the ups and downs will determine your success, your happiness and how you serve the world.

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.” – Dr. Maya Angelou

Sure, some days will be harder than others but it’s important to remember that you dictate your reality. Acknowledging a challenge and pushing through it is one thing. Living in a perpetual state of “it’s so hard” is another.

It’s as hard as you make it.  It’s also entirely up to you how and when you get back up when you experience low moments. It’s also up to you to learn from that crap moment, let it go and move on.

If you’re reading this while currently feeling down, I sincerely hope you get back up.  Everyone has a calling in them. Some are writers, some are accountants, some are healers, some are acrobats, some are actors, some are plumbers, and some are stay-at-home parents and so on.  You have an obligation to yourself and to the world to embrace your calling with full responsibility, clarity and action.

Because most of you reading this article are artists, let me say this: What an amazing gift it is to change the world through art. How incredible is that? It doesn’t matter if what you create makes people laugh and escape their daily stresses for a few hours or you’re shining a light on a serious issue – what you create as an artist matters. So don’t let the negative Nancy within yourself get in the way of that. Don’t let fear stop you from getting up when you fall. What a terrible waste of a gift.

Fear is lack of love. So do like Snoop and drop it like it’s hot. Lose the resentment, the entitlement, the jealousy, the comparisons – whatever it is. It will hold you back. Listen to Conan and lose the cynicism. Cynicism doesn’t get you anywhere, it doesn’t make you cool and hip, and it doesn’t give anything good to the world.  And ultimately, you can’t get back up if you’re angry, disappointed or jaded all the time.

Everyone falls down. It’s how you get back up, how you show your gratitude in your lowest moments, how you exercise your patience with yourself, and how you believe in yourself that counts.

If you’re thinking, “well that’s all well and good, Holly, but how do I do that?” I’m glad you asked.  Here are some easy and inspiring things you can do to not only help you get back up but remind you why you need to get back up:

Read and watch interviews of people in the industry that truly inspire you. Listen to their journey and their attitude! I find ‘Inside the Actor’s Studio’ is really great for that and you can usually find episodes on YouTube.

Get outside your bubble. Seek out news from around the world. A word of caution here: don’t overload with heavy stories. Although it’s important to be informed, it’s not necessary to be inundated. Inundation leads to feeling overwhelmed which leads to the scary land of indifference. Rather, seek out stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things in the face of extreme adversity. May I suggest Half the Sky, Malala’s journey, Upworthy, TED talks, Soul Pancake’s Kid President and My Last Days.

I’m also a big fan of looking for inspirational leaders outside of our industry that have done the ‘impossible’ like Sir Richard Branson. Now there’s a person who doesn’t believe in limitations and really understands what it means to follow your passion:

“There is no greater thing you can do with your life and your work than follow your passions – in a way that serves the world and you.” – Sir Richard Branson.

Oh and there’s this guy…and this lady. Both are examples that believing in yourself is more potent than a lifetime of so-called failures, obstacles and falls.

Lastly, have a daily spiritual practice, whatever that means to you. It can be super simple, just pick something and go with it. Maybe it’s meditating, maybe it’s writing in a gratitude journal, maybe it’s mentally giving thanks and declaring that today will be awesome the minute you wake up, maybe it’s going for a walk, or maybe it’s just looking in the mirror and giving thanks that you are alive and have the freedom to pursue your dreams. Whatever it is, commit to it deeply and honestly. It will shift you, I promise. 

Ali Quote
If you’re hurt, feel hurt. If you need to cry it out, you cry. That’s okay. If you’re frustrated, feel frustrated. But then be like the 14 month old and get back up. You’re too important to stay down.

I’d love to hear your comments below. Was there a time where you fell – and hard – but managed to get up? What did you learn and how did it make you stronger?  Or are you feeling down now and need to reach out to get back up? Please share below!

 Sat nam and stay golden.


About Elissa

Elissa is an ecofeminist interdisciplinary artist and activist. To learn more about her work visit