Born This Way

Do you feel like you have to have it all together all the time?
Do you feel stressed out by the pressures of being seen?

Do you find yourself thinking,
What will they think?
Is this good enough?

In an industry where you are constantly evaluated and criticized, this can be deeply challenging.

And you may find yourself stuck in a perfectionist loop, where you get paralyzed because you are so afraid your work will be rejected.  Or you may find it takes you hours, days, even weeks to complete projects because it has to be JUST right.

Either way, I imagine you feel exhausted, and that can feel pretty frustrating when you came to this work because you love it.

Where is the joy?
Why is doing what you love creating so much stress?

I remember auditioning for a Broadway choreographer and feeling so strong.  I walked in with a smile, and danced my best.

When the choreographer went to make the cut, he looked right at me and said to his assistant,
NOT her.

His look went through me, as if my insides turned to ice. It felt violent, the look on his face, as if he was so disgusted by my dancing, that he felt absolutely repulsed by the very notion of having me stay and dance and sing some more.

I could understand being cut.
I could understand not being what he was looking for.
But, I couldn’t get over HOW he did, and the WAY he looked right at me.

It felt so MEAN.

And because this was years ago, I internalized his reaction and the look on his face.  I didn’t know what else to do with it.

I walked out of the room feeling completely dejected, and my conclusion was,
I’m not good enough.

Have you every felt this?

How do we deal with our overactive inner critic, and all the feedback we get?

Two weeks ago, I went to Las Vegas to see Lady Gaga in her Jazz & Piano show at the MGM Park Theater. It was my first time seeing her in concert, and I was so excited!

The energy was incredible.  Everywhere I looked was another fabulous outfit, glitter, and even a woman who had put a blond wig on her dog and was posing in pictures with other fans.

There was adoration and anticipation in the air.  5200 people had gathered to see this show, and I was pinching myself I was one of them.

After buying a sweatshirt, I was approached by a young man who asked if I wanted to make a button for the Born This Way Foundation.  Not knowing what that was, I eagerly walked over to the booth.

Led by Lady Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta, Born This Way Foundation was founded in 2012 with the goal of creating a kinder and braver world.

Their mission:

We seek to support the mental and emotional wellness of young people by putting their needs, ideas, and voices first.

We celebrate the individuality of those we serve and we revere the bravery it takes to reach out and start the conversation. Together, we’re building a community that provides approachable resources, fosters genuine connection, and drives action.

I was handed a blank circle with the opportunity to create a button.  The paper read,
This Way ________________.

Taking a moment to connect to how I believed I was born, I wrote three words,
You are Love

The button now read,
This Way You are Love.

Attaching the button to my jacket, I walked into the theater feeling more than excitement, but inspired and grounded.

Lady Gaga exploded onto the stage, her voice filling the huge arena.  In between numbers, she shared the many challenges she has faced, and the importance of mental health.  She shared how lonely she feels, and all the pressures of her work and felt there was really only one answer,
Kindness.

This was why she created the Foundation.

This resonated deeply with me, and for a moment I imagined hugging that younger dancer who walked out feeling so dejected.

I imagined hugging her in that moment when she wanted to make herself small and be equally damaging to herself.

How amazing that would have felt.
Something so simple, and yet deeply powerful.

In moments of criticism, it can be so easy to just take on what that person, or your audience is saying and believe it is true.

Their anger, their unhappiness can seep in so FAST and rob us of our confidence.

The truth is, you can’t control another person, so how do you keep your power and not be taken out by someone else’s harsh words?

Kindness.

And I’m not talking about outward kindness, but inward.  When you feel that negative energy, approach your  FEELINGS with kindness.

The shock?  Allowed.
The feeling of being unsettled?  Allowed
The feeling of dejection?  Allowed.

You are allowed to FEEL what you feel.  This is ultimate kindness.  This is compassion, and really, this is the core of mental health.

When we make an enemy of our feelings, we are in constant conflict.  Allow your feelings to arise from the criticism, and then instead of fanning the flames with your own self criticism, and letting your inner critic go crazy, connect to your feelings with kindness.

Even though I feel dejected, I deeply love and accept myself.

In fact, it was when I started to approach myself with kindness that I stopped caring so much what other people thought. When I received criticism, it didn’t take me out, and I felt free to be me and take risks.

This WAY you are love.

Because the truth is, you ARE love.  This is your nature. It’s inherent to your humanity.

And as they say in the This Way Foundation,
“Where individuality is encouraged.”

There is only one you, and the way you bring your work to the world is beautifully unique.  Bringing kindness to yourself in these moments is what grounds you in the journey and allows you to drop what other people think.

Because who you are is far more interesting than who you are trying to be.

What a relief:)

You were born this way.