One of the best gifts in my life happened because I was too naive to know that I was being naive.
As I reflect back on it, it was part my expectation for others to do the right thing, a little about ‘you don’t get what you don’t ask for’ and even more about knowing I had nothing to lose.
This is definitely true for us actors who are fighting so hard for our dreams.
You can’t expect to make your dreams come true if you don’t go after them, right? We all know that. Our passion for acting is the fire that gets us out of bed every day to keep going for it, even though so many voices (sometimes even our own) are screaming, “no” and “it’s too hard”.
Because regret is insidious.
And while I regret a lot of things in my life, my biggest regrets are the things I didn’t do.
Luckily, following my dreams to be an actor isn’t one of them. And it isn’t for you, either. So high five, my friend. We’re doing it!
I’m about to tell you a story of something I did in high school. I had pretty much forgotten all about it until 5 years ago when my mom brought it up to prove a point about “squeaky wheels."
And when she told me the story, I cried.
I was flat out rejected from my dream college, The University of Michigan, and I was absolutely devastated.
After moping around for who knows how long, my mom suggested that I try to talk to an admissions counselor in person. We couldn't afford it, but she said if I could get an appointment, she’d figure out the plane fare.
So I called and made an appointment during my Spring Break which was in late February.
I distinctly remember the month, because...IT WAS FEBRUARY. IN MICHIGAN.
No one forgets the feel of their first Midwest winter.
As a young girl from Hawaii, walking off the plane into the middle of a Michigan February was akin to me trying to get north of The Wall by scaling it with my face.
Winter had most definitely arrived for this little wannabe wildling.
The only thing was, I didn’t care about the cold. As I sat in front of the Union watching the students walk by, it was like someone had love-punched my heart.
This is where I belonged. I just knew it.
Ice and fire, indeed.
Then it was time for my meeting with a counselor. Here’s how it started:
COUNSELOR: Hi there, Heather. Come on in. Would you like to bring your mom in with you?”
ME: Oh, no. She’s not here.
COUNSELOR: Really? Where is she?
ME: At home. In Hawaii.
COUNSELOR: Hawaii?! Oh! Then...how did you get here?
ME: I flew
COUNSELOR: By yourself? But then...how did you get to campus?
ME: I took the bus.
I remember asking him to explain why I didn’t get in. I remember him flipping through my application and transcripts, and I vaguely remember asking him about my SATs, but that’s it.
Two weeks later, I got my acceptance letter.
When my mom reminded me of that story, I cried.
I cried, I think, because it caught me so off guard. How could I have forgotten?
And mostly, I cried because I barely recognized that devil-may-care, starry-eyed teenager who thought nothing of flying 4400 miles, by herself, to fight for what she wanted or what she believed she deserved.
And maybe also because thinking of my time at Michigan still makes my heart ache, in the best possible way, and it’s hard to imagine that I was *this close* to having a different path in life.
And I wanted the brave and determined naiveté of that girl back.
But the more I’ve thought about it over the years, the more I've realized that she’s still here. Because against all odds, I have been fighting for something I believe in. Myself. And my passion for acting.
As so are you.
You’re one of the lucky ones who is following your heart and your dreams. You’ll never regret the fight, and it may be the best gift you’ll ever give yourself.
So I implore you.
Be naive enough to believe that you can do this. This “acting thing” that everyone tells you is an impossible dream.
You’re following your passion and that’s a lot more than most people can say.
It’s time for your story.
This is your life.
Go get it.