I have been trying to figure out my whole life how not to associate my self worth or happiness with my success.
Let me explain.
When I am in a successful place in my career and at the top of my game, I feel a high. I feel important, loved, & happy. The best long term example of this was when I was starring on Broadway in 42nd St. I was playing my dream role on Broadway for a whole year. And I had never been happier stepping out on stage every show. Dancing my heart out and seeing the faces of the audience at the stage door afterwards. I loved doing interviews and feeling involved with the Broadway community I so admired.
Also I felt a high from the molecular energy only a live audience can give you 8 times a week.
It was a drug.
But I also felt valued, I felt like all my hard work in the dance studio as a kid was finally paying off and I was just doing what I had dreamed of my whole life. I was doing what I had passion for. What I loved and craved. I felt like people felt that energy from me and that in turn just kept giving me more joy.
For years I kept striving to get back to this place. For 10 years after that to be exact. I was in NYC striving to get back to that feeling. I did it briefly, for 2 months, get to star on Broadway again with the musical White Christmas, but after 12 weeks I was "back on the street, looking for that fix again".
I sound like a drug addict. But those of us who have been there, know that feeling. And there is no other way to describe it.
It is a drug.
But, if you are lucky, you get your fix, you get the opportunity to work. And I did, for years, but after awhile I wasn't working. No one was calling, I wasn't getting hired. Nothing about me or my work was being appreciated, praised or valued. I was being rejected right and left. My skills were the same, my talent hadn't changed, but people just weren't biting anymore. And as much as you try, when you are at this point, its very hard not to feel worthless, sad, lonely, and depressed.
From the time I was a kid I have loved Madonna. (Stay with me, this has relevance)
I know Madge has her faults, but truly I think she is a brilliant mind. I think she is an incredible business woman & artist. To have survived and thrived in this business from the time she was 24 is impressive. I don't care who you are.
So the other night I was feeling "worthless" and happened upon an old interview of hers while surfing YouTube. Random... but it helped me put things in perspective.
It was an interview with another powerful women I love, Ms Oprah. Madonna had just become a mother and was talking about her life now, the ups and downs of motherhood, her career and then she got to a part where she talked about fame. She talked about the high's and low's of this business. I was fascinated to think that she, someone who I think of as having everything, has times when she is feeling worthless and sad.
Of course she does.
She is human.
Oprah chimed in about how she deals with the high's and low's. and I was just glued to their every word. There they are, Madonna & Oprah, two insanely powerful women talking about how they have had to learn to disconnect from the power of connecting your self worth to your success.
Ah ha. Moment.
Now if they have to learn that, with all their success, what does that mean to someone like me? It means it is much harder to be Oprah & Madonna with the high's and low's because not only do you have yourself to face....you have millions critiquing and judging every move you make.
So in a way I feel lucky because my low's are on a much smaller level.
No wonder Madge says she doesn't watch TV or read American magazines. Its too hard to be exposed to the criticism's. Hey I get it. I would shield myself too.
After hearing all Madonna and Oprah said on the subject I thought...I don't think I would've been mentally fit for fame. It takes a certain personality to survive those high's and low's. Thick skin and a thick heart. But...don't get me wrong.... I wouldn't turn it down because the "high's" I know are incredible. Being able to do what you love and have people call you, want you to perform, have tremendous influence and not to mention the financial benefit.
I would take it in a heartbeat.
See? Even after all that....I still am a drug addict.
These are confessions of my life as an actress working on Broadway, TV and Film for 20 years