10.21.12 Truth & Wisdom
Growling with frustration at the ‘beach ball of death’ on my laptop screen, I realized it was time to clean out my hard drive. Simple tasks had become an exercise in patience, every click causing that dreaded round ball to pop up, halting work for a painful few minutes. It had gotten to the point that if I opened an application by mistake; I would have to cancel dinner plans. Stupid rainbow circle, I thought, searching through folders to find hidden files, you have no right to be so colorful. Then, I found the source of my storage issues. A folder within another folder, simply labeled ‘interviews’, and inside, a few Quicktime movies from 2007, 2008 and 2009; forgotten remnants from early in my career as an entertainment reporter. Clicking open, promising sacrifices to the beach ball God if it worked, and taking a deep breath, I hit play.
Instantly, I was transported back in time. Watching the younger version of me, I had to laugh. Who is that? I thought. And wow, what a strong Australian accent I had! Well, still have if I’m being honest. I remembered so clearly sitting in that chair, opposite that Hollywood celebrity, feeling incredibly nervous. These questions are horrible, I had thought at the time, I need more confidence. Can he tell I’m nervous? After the interview I had rushed back to the office to study the tapes, criticizing myself. I need to lose weight, I thought, grow my hair, wear better clothes. I am all wrong.
But now, I watched with a mixture of fascination and humor. “What was I so worried about?” I said out loud to myself, laughing. What I could see now is probably what I should have seen then. What other people would have seen. I was cute. I actually looked quite pretty. I didn’t seem nervous at all. Those questions were interesting and the star had responded well to them. I liked my outfit. My hair looked nice. I was slim, looked healthy. Why couldn’t I see it then? Of course, years later, I still do the same thing. Still watch my interviews with critical eyes. Still consider myself a work in progress, still forget in that moment of watching where I’ve been, the years of success I’ve had. I wondered if movie stars do the same thing. If it can be painful to watch yourself on the small screen, what would it be like on the big screen? In front of millions?
I started to ask that question of celebrities in my interviews. The familiar faces, the perfect, handcrafted-by-God-himself faces, the Oscar winning actor faces; overwhelmingly, they all said, “It’s awful watching myself! You never get used to it!” and “You know how you hate hearing your own voice on an answering machine? It’s like that, but so much worse!” Many admitted to never watching their own movies for this reason. I asked a famous director who stars in his own movies whether he can be objective with his own performance. “No. I’m so incredibly critical that I just can’t even watch,” he admitted, “Then occasionally you get to a little piece and think, that’s okay. We look at ourselves much more critically than others do. I’m not sure why that is!”
Surely, if there’s one person in the world who should always be supportive of me, it should be me. I should be my own best friend, my own cheerleader, ready to tough talk myself if necessary, but always there, in the mirror with a warm smile and a thought of: You’re alright, you!
So, I tried just that. A smile in the mirror with a cheeky wink for good measure. And I challenge you to do the same thing. Go to a mirror, stare at yourself without letting your thoughts stray to anything negative. Give your self a big ole smile. And a wink. See how it good feels.