My home videos are hard to watch. I would mandate that my bright-eyed baby sister hide under a coffee table and reenact scenes out of the early Mary-Kate and Ashley mystery series. If I remember correctly, she was Mary-Kate, I was Ashley; no switching allowed, no name changes allowed. No one ever taught me to take the reins in that way, but whether I like it or not, I have a particular vision of every given situation. Once that vision is present, I will do everything in my power to carry that out.
Though notoriously quiet during class, I think I’ve always been a director of sorts. I like things around me to fall a certain way. Once, in a theater class in which students were randomly cast in either Annie or Oliver!, I cried and asked that I be switched from Oliver! to Annie because (as I can comprehend now) I knew Annie was the better play, and one that people would be more excited to see. I was not about to be put in the opening act. My wonderful and patient
mother called the teacher who begrudgingly made the switch. I tried my hand at team sports, but after eight years of town soccer teams, I was tired of getting unspecific recognition; “good game” just wasn’t enough. In middle school, I returned to theater productions and classes that seemed to do the trick. I was applauded for performances, I went to a small Shakespeare camp where I could more easily audition for the hard-hitting roles I desired. I got to stage-fight as Hermia, fall in love as Juliet, and sass up a storm as Phoebe. Everything was in place until I realized that the life of an actress/waitress wasn’t one I was prepared to undertake. I wasn’t getting leads in musicals, and Broadway seemed like a more and more unrealistic goal. I gave up that dream, it broke my heart.
Eventually, it hit me that I could still keep the glamour of the entertainment field in my life without acting. Though I still got pangs of jealousy and depression after seeing a Broadway show (I still don’t go very often), I attempted things like directing theater, as well as making, writing, and directing my own films. To my gratification, I excelled. I was nominated for a “Best Animation” title in a film festival, I won a small scholarship (the recognition was more than enough), and I went to college where I still write plays that are produced at school, do some minimal acting, and have made great strides as a writer and editor. Being acknowledged for my ideas has been another way I’ve been able to maintain my own sense of self while also feeling as though I’m contributing to society.
My outlook has gotten me so far. I’ve taken the opportunities I’m given and turned them into a projects that are unique to me. I am a boss, a writer, and a leader even though I’m not an extrovert or Miranda Priestly. How many other 21-year-olds can say they’re a magazine editor? I believe that I can make positive change while also being kind and knowing what I want. I may try and fail several ways to get there, sure, but I have no doubt that I’ll be in a career on my own terms. I’m not sure what I want to do yet, and I’m not sure why I have to choose just one thing. “Plan B” is not in my vocabulary, I just need to decide on Plan A, and I’ll do it. At the same time, I do strive to improve my teamwork skills. I joined a dance team in college which satisfied my need to be seen, and forced (though my experience was always positive) me to work with others to achieve a presentable result. Every day, my team members’ patience and calm leadership teaches me how to be a better player.
I would never have used this potential pitfall for good without the encouragement of my family. My parents never labeled me as “attention-seeking” though that was clearly the case, and today I appreciate that fact. As long as I wasn’t being cruel to others, my boss attitude was fair game. They could’ve easily told me to be quiet, let someone else take the lead, take the part in Oliver! and stop crying. Had they told me to take it down a notch, I don’t think I would have considered my directorial skills to be a positive attribute. They knew that the desire to be noticed can be positive if you channel it in the right way; make sure you aren’t trying to get attention with negativity.
I want to be famous. Winning an Oscar is still on my agenda, but that doesn’t mean I have to do it now, and it doesn’t mean I have to be Julia Roberts in order to achieve something notable. I realize now that what I want is to be well known within my field. I want to be known for being good at my job, and having some creative liberty in whatever project I do. I realize now that I can’t mold every project exactly the way I want it, and sometimes others have ideas that are far better than my own.
I would urge everyone to tap into your inner boss and own your ideas. Virginia Woolf once wrote, “Arrange whatever pieces come your way.” Do just that: don’t try and create a situation that doesn’t exist, but do take what’s thrown at you and turn it into something tremendous. The pieces might not be big, and you might not have a lot to work with, but there are always ways to make your own masterpiece—even if you have to create your own awards show.
How have you tapped into your #innerboss?