I was interviewed for a podcast last week (my dear friend Steph Gaudreau’s Listen to Your Body podcast — the episode will premiere later this month) and the convo turned to one of my favorite topics: enoughness.
Y’all know that enoughness is at the core of everything we do in the world of Self-Management for Actors. Learning your type and brand is not about BECOMING something; it’s about excavating it. Targeting your buyers or creating content is not about IMPRESSING anyone; it’s all about leaving the impression that is accurate for who you are. Every audition, meeting, connection online, whatever… it’s all an opportunity to just share exactly what you’re about, nothing more. What comes from THAT? It’s not up to you. Never was; never will be.
So, during the interview, Steph asked why it is that we have to do this excavation to get to our enoughness and the thing is, we come pre-loaded with enoughness. We’re born with it. But at some point, the EXPRESSION of our enoughness got inconvenient for someone who was directly responsible for our survival.
Like, we got told, “You’re too much,” or “Be quiet!” or “Go away,” or “You’re too big for your britches,” or my all-time favorite, “Who do you think you are?!?”
And we were at just a crucial enough age and stage of development when that landed — when the all-out FEAR that we were risking our own survival by continuing to express ourselves fully and authentically — that we did the only logical thing for our young brains: We tucked in our enoughness to be a more acceptable version of ourselves.
Then we encountered not just primary caregivers but also teachers and peers and other people we felt the need to impress… and we kept learning new ways to push down our enoughness. We began to feel shame for how much we LIKED ourselves. It became more acceptable — and expected — to not just dislike ourselves but actively (and publicly) hate ourselves.
And over time we got so much acceptance for what a good job of actively rejecting our enoughness we were doing that we found we could finally exhale about fitting in. And upon that exhale we really connected with a part of ourselves that hadn’t relaxed in maybe decades. And that part of ourselves whispered, “You know this isn’t who we are, right?”
If you’re like me, you found really effective ways of shutting THAT voice up for a long time (vodka, sugar, overworking, abusive relationships, really cruel self-talk — those were my big five). But eventually, there’s this curiosity. This interest in pulling at a thread that feels like it may lead to something.
And THIS is how we begin to excavate our enoughness. We get curious about who we are when we DGAF about what anyone else would prefer that we be.
For a little while, we’ll actually think about this and go, “Hang ON! Have I built a life around being what everyone else needed me to be… and now here I am so freakin’ far away from who I was born to be that I almost don’t recognize myself?” And we may pile on those effective ways of shutting that voice up (again, that’s the vodka, sugar, overworking, etc., for me) but then, again, we may find ourselves getting curious.
What would happen if I were to just KNOW that I am — exactly AS I am — enough?
Here’s what I’d love to suggest, right now (and always).
GET CURIOUS. That’s all.
Get curious about the shape your life would take if you were to sit fully in your enoughness. Get curious about how it would feel to be on your own side for a change. Get curious about things you were once told were none of your business.
We were hushed about our curiosity because it inconvenienced someone else. Eventually, there IS no one else. So if we’ve built a life around the convenience level of others, there’s a moment down the line when we’re unburdened by those others… and by then it’s too late to ask what would’ve made us happy, content, at peace in life.
I’d love to hear how this curiosity feels to you. Comments are open just below! Give yourself permission to be curious. Try behaving in ways that feel native to your soul (even if you’ve tucked those behaviors in for a long time). I’m not asking you to stage a rebellion; just be curious… and open to what your enoughness wants to teach you about who you really are.
(In case you’re looking for the punchline about your acting career, here it is: Everyone who “makes it” in showbiz, long term, has gotten down with their true selves. They sit fully in their enoughness. They publicly accept themselves for exactly who they are. Alllllllll the work you do trying to figure out your type and brand while you’re ACTIVELY avoiding being your true self is the most futile of all actor busy work. It’s why meaningful success pairs so well with authenticity. Once you get down with yourself, you’re magnetic like never before. It’s awesome.)
Sending you all my love, beautiful people! Let me hear from you. You’ve got this!
Enoughness is an inside job… and sometimes you need a guide to find your way there. Let Bonnie Gillespie get you started.
Bonnie, this comes in such a good time! I was watching a theatre production online last night and just had that feeling of “what the f am I doing with my life?”, when will my break be? When will I make it as an actress? Will I perform again, ever? And then all the: I am too old, too late, too far from the “real” markets etc…I think I will just try to sit with myself more and maybe…I’ll find the answer. Being enough is one of the most important things I’ve discovered lately, I don’t know why they don’t teach us that in school, we should hear that like 1000 times a day.Thank you!
Right on, Raluca. I think we’re ready to work on our enoughness when we’re — as Liz Gilbert puts it — sick of our own bullshit enough to do so. Not a moment before. So, that feeling of “What the eff am I doing with my life?” is exactly that sort of indicator. I love it. 🙂 You’ve got this!
I think this: when I am just being myself, when I am not TRYING to please anybody but JUST being myself, saying what I really think, not trying to be impressive or cute or whatever, that’s when my life works so much better for me. Because I’m walking in my enoughness, given to me from above and encouraged by Ms. Bonnie.
Some of the most consistent advice I’ve ever been given is “just be yourself”. Frustrating because I hear it so much, but encouraging because THAT IS WHAT WORKS. And to be myself, I have to be cool with myself, and holistically speaking (spirit, mind, body), I’m honestly getting there.
And I get better at this, I see myself being a better friend because I’m more real, a better actor because i’m more vulnerable and less self-defeating, less guarded, maybe even a boyfriend or a husband because she (whoever “she” is) can see who I am and that’s attractive to her.
And as I keep betting better at this and remembering who, and Whose, I really am, I see the negative self-talker being shushed rather than doing the shushing. I see peace in that area.
I guess I’m curious, and excited, to see how right I am. When I am finally cool with the person I am divinely assigned, for lack of a better word, or built, to be. This was done for a reason. I’m curious to see what happens along the way and what’s next.
I LOVE the excitement about learning who you are and while being cool with it is a great goal, sometimes we cannot be cool with who we are (it’s why we embark on things to create change for ourselves; it’s why we have goals). I think being cool with where we ARE with who we are may be a better setpoint because that’s a changing space. I love that you’re ready to come at this from a place of curiosity and I’d love it if you could ask your friends what they mean when they say, “Just be yourself.” Not to outsource who that is, but to see if there are some patterns you could find in that answer — and of course I’d like you to start asking yourself that question too! 🙂
Thanks, Bonnie. Good advice, as ever. 🙂
There is such power in being curious and finding a way to not stifle that curiosity, to not prejudge it, to let it actually take you somewhere. But that also takes guts, because it can mean jettisoning pieces of yourself that are very comfortable. It’s such an interesting dance…this going back and forth between letting ourselves live in the discomfort so that we can get in touch with the pieces of ourselves we’ve lost & buried but that are actually more of who we really are.
You’ve nailed it, Tamara. That DANCE. It’s the work. Allowing just enough of the discomfort that we are learning and discovering and growing but not so much of it that it spins us out or sends us off into behaviors or choices that try and turn down the amplitude of the discomfort itself. I love a good dance. Right on!
This particular er “global situation “ is a gift in a way because I (and I imagine others) are having to sit with myself a lot more. Things I used to do to avoid feeling those feelings I now can no longer do. I even feel kinda stupid saying this but I now realise my daily supermarket shops were not actually necessary but just a way of keeping myself busy (with something that felt socially justifiable ) so I didn’t have to deal with “boredom” which is really just not enoughness.
It’s not like I had the time to do those shops, it’s not like i didn’t have better more “ curious “things to do. It’s that getting my family food (even though we have plenty) felt easier than actually sitting with my feelings.
I’m uncovering all sorts of crap that I do to cover my feelings. Things that go beyond (sugar, alcohol – I’ve done those too!)
I’m slowly stripping away all the“ stuff “ and finding out who I am more and more.
I am a creator (we all are right ?) I LOVE making stuff, pretending stuff, imagining stuff. I can be selfish and self centred, I love attention, but I am also highly intuitive, sensitive, kind and I have a thing with animals and I am at my best when I am deep in nature. I still care too much what people think. Put me in a room with judgmental people and that seems to be my Achilles heel. I withdraw but I’m working on that. I’m pretty sure it comes from me not wanting to shine too bright (might upset other family members)
I love what you say about just being ourselves. We’ve heard it so many times …just be yourself blah blah blah but it is easier said than done and those that do it are irresistible. We just love people who are 100% themselves. We love them because they remind us who we are. Or some people hate them precisely because they remind them of how they are not really being who they are.
Takes huge courage to be who you really are because some will love you and some will feel threatened by you.
Maybe the key (for me anyway ) is to embrace the jugement that sometimes from others as a good thing. It means I am being who I am and not censoring. Then again I actually think much of the judgement is in my head anyway ! Maybe it’s from them, maybe it’s in my head..it really doesn’t matter I suppose.
I’ll be in a room full of people. It’ll be my turn to talk. If we’re talking about a subject or I’m directing a scene I speak with total confidence. If I have to talk about myself or my feelings to a group – I do it – and I’m sure it sounds fine and no one would ever notice but inside I know I’m uncomfortable, I finish quickly (so as not to take up too much time ) and then feel self conscious when I have finished.
I’m just recognising all of these feelings – I’m sure I’m not alone in having them and I am getting better at distancing myself from them – they’re just feelings they’re not “true”
Stripping away all the crap (liz Gilbert talked about taking away our pacifier right) means I’m actually acknowledging all this stuff out loud (and on here – 😱) for the first time …which I guess is a good thing
I’m getting there …
I may have recommended this book to you in the dojo, Anna, but I’ll do so here (too) because it’s a good one: Judgment Detox by Gabby Bernstein. It’s so helpful re: the getting into those rooms with judgmental people and letting that spin you out. They’re only mirroring what you already judge yourself for… so working out why you judge yourself for your urges, needs, being the YOU that you know you are at your core, allowing that FULLY, etc.
I love this work you’re doing and I think this acknowledgment is so, so good! Thrilled you’re taking these steps to allow yourself to get to know the real you! 🙂 I think that’s amazing and you may be blown away with the delightful things you find.
Thank you for this incredible little nugget this morning! Wow…this hits home hard. As I’ve gotten older I think I have come to slowly figure out that I am in fact just “enough” but it’s a constant, daily struggle. I see so many women around me who are just plain unhappy or can’t seem to find their ‘thing’. I knew that this acting thing was my thing every since I was little. I followed the advice from my Mother on teaching after I went to Nyc out of college and just didn’t know what the heck I was doing pursuing acting. She said every woman needs something to fall back on, yes, but I missed the performing part…after teaching for 6 years and got married, was pregnant I quit teaching and was a stay at home mom. Years later, my husband asked me “Why aren’t you pursuing acting with 100% if that’s what you love??”. Um, great question??? ; ) So, I started pursuing it and giving it my all again. People around me would say, didn’t know you were doing this? I said, I’ve done this forever, but am finally giving it my all because it’s who I am. So, even now, I have close family members that think I need to just be at home with my kiddos…why do I keep pursuing this acting deal? Well, because it is WHO I AM. Anyhow…still a daily struggle, but thank you for this. I am gonna keep looking for how I can continue to follow this and be enough and show me…and be me. Thank you.
I find it so interesting when others have such a strong opinion about what it is we should be doing with our time. There’s a saying I love (which I’ll get slightly right, here, remembering off the top of my head) and that’s, “When we ask others for their opinion on what might work for us, what we actually get is THEIR limitations.”
I’m so glad your hubs encouraged you to pursue acting 100%. Now it’s just about you staying on board and not letting the fact that ANYTHING can be a struggle at some point in time talk you out of living out your dreams.
What a timely post. This is the work that I’ve been diving into. Quite frankly, because I can no longer live with the terrorist in my head. Yeah, I can recall vividly when I was little, those voices that started this spiral. And here and now, the adult version of me is slowly removing this. This time that we’re in has enabled me to join my acting class in San Diego again. And it’s been such a gift. Because when I tap into my gifts and my creativity it feels wonderful. It’s so joyful. When I’m stuck in my head and trying to be someone else it’s horrible. So this reminder to just continue to be curious about what it would be like to feel fully and completely myself and feel my enoughness and what it would be like to live from that place all the time, so grateful. Thank you!
Perfect. And girl, I hear you on the terrorist in my head. That’s exactly what it is sometimes and DAMN if we let it get away with a LOT sometimes. Glad this curiosity idea landed right on time for you, as a reminder of what’s possible. You’ve got this!
It never ceazes to amaze me how inspiring and grounded you are. I love this post and it’s true, society conditions directly or indirectly to denying or repressing certain part of ourselves. Growing up, kinds used to be jealous I understood things easily shocking teachers, so because of being bullied for standing out always I learned how to make myself less in order to avoid conflict. That’s just one example. But this lockdown is an opportunity to sift through all those choices and chose attitudes that align me with my True North, as you brilliantly teach, not someone’s conceptions. Ah, Freedom! 💕 I am embracing it so much more! Thank you for yet another soul nourishing post.
Thanks, love. XO