As an artist what is your biggest fear? Rejection? If it is, join the club! For so many artists the fear of rejection can be so powerful that it can stop you from creating anything at all. The reality is not everyone is going to like you, or work and that can be a very vulnerable awareness to have. However, if you don't give yourself the chance you're going to feel rejection anyway, the rejection of your creative self. That's far worse than any possible rejection from anyone else. Stifling your creative impulse can cause major dis- ease in your body, mind and spirit. If you're too scared to even put your work out there in fear that someone might not like it, you'll never find the people that do like it. When fear comes up ask yourself what are my core values? What do I want to give people through my art? What do I want them to experience? The answers to these questions will reveal that your art might not actually be about you after all. You're just allowing it to move through you so you can give it as a gift to someone else. So, if it's not really yours to begin with then why do you think it's yours to judge?
I'll share a story from my personal experience as it relates to this. One night I was booked to host a comedy show and I really didn't want to go. Legitimate excuses ran through my head, I had a very stressful, busy and confronting day. I was tired, it was raining and I wasn't feeling like the funniest version of myself. I was in a dark place. As a matter of fact, as I sat in my over-priced 800 sq. ft. Los Angeles apartment feeling sorry for myself, I thought I would much rather stay home and listen to the crack- heads in the alley dig through my recycle bin than go out and entertain a bar filled with people who might not even like me.
That's when something took over my body and I rose up above my fear and limiting ideas. It might have been spirit, or the pot of coffee I polished off during my deliberating, either way, before I could second guess it for a third time I was in my car and off to to host the show. While driving I had an epiphany, I thought why do I even like doing comedy? Then I suddenly remembered. I like comedy because I love making people laugh and I love when other people make me laugh. BOOM! Like a lightning bolt it hit me, that's it! It was so simple- I didn't do comedy to win the approval of others and judge my performance good or bad, I did comedy because I simply enjoyed the energy of laughter and I LOVED being the catalyst of laughter in others because I know what it does for me when someone makes me laugh. It's a game changer.
When someone makes me laugh or I make someone else laugh, I'm suddenly lighter and everything is fun and possible again. I'm instantly connected and present. Rather than thinking and planning I'm just present and light filled and that's a very good feeling. That's when I decided to make that my soul intention that night. There's an old joke amongst comics "If you can make just one person laugh... then you must not be very funny," ... but I didn't care, I was actually setting out that night to be that old hack joke to make just one person laugh. I showed up and guess what? Yowza, there was only one person in the audience! Ha- jokes on me, touché God! All the other comics left the bar one by one because they thought the show wasn't worth doing for just one person. Oh and by the way, it wasn't at The Hollywood Improv where this photo was taken, nope not at all. This show was at a dive bar in LA, dirty and grossThe interesting thing is... this particular show ended up being one of the most memorable life transforming shows ever! It was way beyond any cool club packed house show I had ever done and I'll explain why... this is a blog after all.
So yes, I stayed at the dive bar after all the other comics left although the circumstances provided the perfect storm for me to politely leave.
I did the opposite, maybe I was bat sh*t crazy, or I was possessed, or spirit took the wheel, whatever you want to think.... regardless of the circumstance, I started the show. Okay let's be honest, at that point it was more of a conversation and less of a show because keep in mind it was one person staring at me from the audience but I had a mic and I was on stage none the less. However, within seconds- mission accomplished. We both laughed and I mean a lot! I did my entire act just for her. I couldn't believe that I did that but the really funny thing is that she loved it so much she gave me a standing ovation. Okay, yes it was just one person standing and clapping and maybe that seems weird but it most certainly counted as a standing o that night. And as all comics know, it's actually way more challenging to perform in front of a few people as opposed to a full house, let alone just ONE person!
When I got off stage she quickly gave me a huge hug and I don't know who needed it more her or me. Okay this is going to sound dramatic but it's the truth, she then opened her heart and shared that she had been seriously contemplating suicide that night because she felt so alone but something brought her to the show instead. It was her "last ditch effort to change her vibration." The best part is, she said she hadn't laughed that much in a very long time and she felt so much better and more connected. She said she was so grateful she pulled herself out of the house to see the "show." And by that time I was really glad to have pulled myself out of the house too. She said it was hard for her to believe she was in such a dark place because she felt so good now and she wondered how she could have even entertained such a depressed idea of taking her own life. She thanked me immensely for doing my act just for just her and as she walked away smiling... glowing actually, she shouted over her shoulder upon her exit, "I'll see you next week Lea" and she did. She came to all my local shows after that night but that was the only time it had been just the two of us.
On my way home I couldn't help but think, wow what if I hadn't shown up at all? And then I got it! Like a ton of bricks slammed right into my head... when facing the fear of rejection make a clear intention from your core values to guide your art and leave the rest behind. Feel the fear and show up anyway. Your art is not yours to judge, it's yours to give away.