Freaking out over a Jab

Changing from a hoodie to a suit jacket in a bathroom stall makes me feel like a con man.

A couple weeks ago, I took a train to Toronto to meet with a talent agency. I woke up at 4 in the morning so I could be at the train station in time (it’s two hours away). In total, I travelled about 15 hours that day, and I was awake for 21 hours. I got my representation, was happy all week, then left for Peru.

Now I’m back from Peru. While on my trip, I started feeling uncertain about what I was doing. It hit a real low point halfway through my week away, when I was thinking of all the things I’d have to do when I got home, and all the money I didn’t have. It paralyzed me, and kept me from seeing much of the country I’d travelled so far to visit that day. To be fair, I was exhausted from travelling. I’d been dealing with delayed baggage, an airline that didn’t seem to want to speak to someone who didn’t understand Spanish, and a fair share of flight delays. I hadn’t really gotten a chance to stop and relax, actually enjoying my vacation. On that day, where I stayed in bed pretty much all day, I decided to get a bit of work done. I finished a script I’d been working on. It’s not a long one; it’s a script for a 10 minute short or so. That’s the only productive thing I did that day, and it probably took no more than an hour. The rest of the day was spent having a bit of a freakout.

Part of that freakout was looking into the agency I had signed with. I was nervous, because I knew that young, hopeful creatives get taken advantage of by people lined up to do so. I was nervous because I paid for comp cards right after the interview. Comp cards are small pieces of cardboard that have a few of your headshots, as well as your stats and some body shots. I paid $500 to get these done, part of which involved booking a session to get my headshots done. That session is later this week. During my trip, I was dreading having to do the long trip to Toronto again, and it made my head spin. I looked up the name of my talent agency online, to find people who wrote and raged about getting screwed. They mentioned paying for headshots and never getting any work. I remembered something I was told during my network marketing fiasco: “You can look up anything on the internet and find someone telling you it’s a scam”. I found articles saying that you should run if a talent agency makes you pay anything upfront, others saying you couldn’t expect a talent agency to pay anything for a new, unproven talent. Some websites claimed it was normal for talent to pay for comp cards, others confirmed the opposite. I spent hours bouncing back and forth between these websites. All I could think was that I’d gotten duped, that I got screwed out of $500 when I really couldn’t afford to be.

But guess what? I’ve already paid it, and my photoshoot is booked. So I’m going to go to Toronto, I’m going to get my headshots done, and take on whatever comes next.

I was watching Creed on my way to Peru, and something Rocky said stuck to me. “One step, one punch, one round at a time.” When you’re in a fight, in my experience, the moment you start overthinking is the moment you lose. When you’re thinking about everything your opponent might throw at you, or what move you should be trying next, you get stiff. It’s hard to explain to someone who’s never done it, but when you fight you’re supposed to stay loose. Not soft, just loose. It’s like a drunk driver in a car accident: they usually survive because they don’t tense up right before impact. When you’re expecting somebody to punch you in the face, your muscles tense up, ready for impact. They’re less pliable and less responsive. Ironically, this makes you more likely to get punched in the face. That’s why you strain to stay loose, relaxed. You can throw punches faster and smoother, and you’re more responsive. You’re more likely to dodge whatever’s coming at you, letting it roll off your shoulders, by the side of your head or down your back.

I’ve been looking at this all wrong, and I know why. I used to have zero ambition, zero interest in setting up a long term goal. I corrected this in the past year but I overshot. I became entirely focused on my long term goal, success and greatness. I started looking at everything as a means to an end, like a chessboard. I was trying to think three moves ahead at all times. It’s incredibly stressful, especially when you have no idea what you’re doing. I should have stuck to what I know.

I’m going to approach everything coming at me like a punch to the jaw, because that’s what life is. Life throws jabs at you to see how resilient you are, how easy it’s going to be for it to throw that cross that knocks you out. If you let the jabs get to you, you’re already halfway to getting knocked out. I’m going to stop letting the jabs get to me. I’m keeping my eyes out for the cross, so I can duck it, hit back, and knock out whoever the fuck thought it was a good idea to throw that at me.