By Shannon Kaiser
When I first left my corporate job in advertising to start my business as a writer, life coach, and speaker, I struggled with feeling accepted by my friends and family.
I felt like they didn’t understand or support me. I felt so hurt when they didn’t show up for my workshops or read my newsletter. I kept thinking they didn't understand me or care about what I was doing. I recall the night of my very first public workshop when my dad asked, “Are you sure you want to do this?” I felt like he had energetically punched me in the gut.
How could he ask such a crazy question? This is my heart and soul poured into this work. Yes, you bet I want to teach people about happiness!
Many of us feel unsupported when we first venture out into new dreams.
Today, the support from my family has shifted. Just last week, my dad attended a lecture I gave in front of 50 people at a self-love benefit. He was blown away afterward and told me, “You are an excellent public speaker! You can help so many people with your message. I am so proud of you.” A big difference from the unsure him of many years ago.
I'm sharing this story because I know that many of us feel unsupported when we first venture out into new dreams. But it's important to always keep going. I've realized that, when you support and believe in yourself, in time others will likely come around just as my father did. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt when people we love don’t seem to support our vision.
I realize now that my father was really just asking me what I was afraid to ask myself. Putting yourself out into the world is a scary thing. My subconscious kept saying, “Are you sure you want to do this? What if no one comes? What if this is a big mistake?” The lack of support I felt from my family and friends was really just a reflection of my lack of belief in myself.
Starting a new business or working toward new goals takes courage, and most of the time we don’t really know if we can do it. We just have to go out and do the best we can.
Taking action steps speaks volumes to the universe.
Here are three things to remember when you're feeling unsupported by others:
1. Small actions make a big impact.
When you believe in yourself and have confidence, the rest of the world will believe in you too. But it has to start with you. If you are in a position where you feel like those around you are not supporting you, the best thing to do is turn inward and asks, “Do I believe in myself?”
The fastest way to believe in yourself is to take action. The more action you take, the more confidence you'll build and the easier your challenges will become. For example, I was scared in the beginning of my new career, but I still went out and did workshops. In the face of my fear and lack of self-assurance, I took actionable steps and my confidence grew. Another great way to build your inner-faith muscles is to focus on visualizing your success and picturing yourself achieving whatever outcome you desire.
2. With strategic action comes confidence.
Recognize that when we begin to take action to achieve our goals, we take a giant energetic leap forward. We are putting enormous focus on what we want instead of staying where we are or have been. This takes courage. When we are afraid of this leap, we desperately seek support from others to bolster us. Confidence is the only thing that will enable us to support ourselves.
Confidence also stems from action, so the more action you take, the more confident you will be. Make a list of all the action steps you can take to work toward your goal. If your goal is to leave a job you dislike to become a coach or writer, start writing today and coach people on the side or in your off hours. Taking action steps speaks volumes to the universe. In turn, it will swoop in and give you more clarity, confidence, and opportunity.
3. Support yourself instead of waiting on others to support you.
I eventually recognized that, just because my close friends and family were not supporting my coaching and writing yet, it didn’t mean they didn’t love me. In fact, it had nothing to do with their relationship to me. They all had their own lives and were busy living them. They loved me and supported me in the sense that they were happy I was happy. The same goes for you.
Are you focusing on others not supporting you instead of focusing on supporting yourself? If so, try to take all the energy you have focused on others and pump it into yourself. It all comes back to you believing in yourself. When you do this, everything else falls into place.
This article is adapted from an excerpt of the author's new book, Adventures for Your Soul: 21 Ways to Transform Your Habits and Reach Your Full Potential.
Photo Credit: Stocksy
""""One of the most mortifying moments I experienced in my theatrical career was when I was asked to bring the entirely African-American cast of a new musical we were workshopping, a new piece by an African-American librettist and composer, across the street to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and up into the plush boardroom so they could perform a song or two for the board of directors. I wanted to say something, but I didn't. For one thing, it would take an invaluable 45 minutes to an hour out of the creative team's limited time together. But... every year we had to do the same old song and dance for the board to remind them that yes, we did do new plays and musicals, so yes, it was sometimes a good idea to expose the board to new voices, to the vibrancy of an exciting work in progress.
You all know where this is going, don't you? I led the team in. The talent in that team! The writer/composer himself and the cast, lauded veterans of the stage and the most promising members of the next generation of acting giants. And there was our board. White, as white as can be, white white white white. And very comfortable. They'd just been served lunch, I believe. My theater spared no expense in pleasing our board and catering to their demands (oh my god, I'm feeling such rage right now! I'm pretty sure we had a staff member who was mostly dedicated to help our richest board members get house seats to shows on Broadway and the West End. But I digress...)
The only black face in the audience seated at the conference table? The only person of color? The head of our education department, of course. My heart went out to her.
The cast sang a song from the show. They did it. And they brought it. Because they were and are professionals. And the very pillars of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion reverberated down to the parking lot. It was breathtaking.
And I had just been complicit in the remaking of a scene for the millionth time: black bodies and voices entertaining white audiences, an institution raising money on the backs and voices of black bodies.
I was too mortified to apologize to our writer and to our cast, none of whom, I should add, expressed even an iota of discomfort. They were professionals, and they shone. And come to think of it, they'd probably all become accustomed to this scene. "It's just how theater works," they might have thought with a shrug of their shoulders. Or maybe they seethed inside, for the millionth time, when all they were trying to do is workshop a new musical.
Well, I apologize sincerely now to our writer and those actors. I wish I had had the courage to put my foot down. It is not how theater should work.
I quit the American theater on Valentine's Day 2016, so I've been out more than four years now. And honestly I don't plan to return, which is why I can write with such candor.
The heart of the problem, my friends, is with the non-profit structure, which is capitalism on steroids. Who are the bosses ultimately in an American institutional theater? The board of directors. Who are the board of directors? For the most part, those members of the community not with the strongest attachment to the art form but those with the deepest pockets. Often they're really not members of the community. They often just drop in. They are sometimes mere tourists.
It's no wonder that that board meeting was held in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The theater, like most American theaters, had built its board of directors on the old opera model: You get the richest folks together, offer them galas and house seats and receptions and private recitals and showings (for which artists often don't get paid extra, mind you), you pamper them and make them feel more special and entitled than they already do, and then they'll write you big checks to support the kind of art they like, the kind of art they can bring their kids and grandkids to. AND they--not the artists, not the community--get to hire the institution's leadership.
It is a rotten model. Rotten to the core. How can any artistic institution claim to be working for and in the community with that model?
It's got to be torn down. It's got to be reinvented. And I have no idea what the next model will be. I really don't. And no, honestly I don't think government is the solution frankly. Some of the most bloated, self-satisfied, decadent theater I've ever seen was in Germany, where it was almost fully government-funded. Lots of bells and whistles and provocations and completely soul-dead.
I see amazing and galvanizing lists of demands recently being made and posted by theater artists of color. These are vital demands. But they don't address the central issue. As long as the ultimate bosses of an artistic institution remain the community's deepest pockets, nothing will change. Nothing. You'll be putting band-aids on a gaping wound. Sorry, but it's true.
So please figure something else out. Maybe for a few years you just avoid the institutions. You've already started. In the pandemic, so many of you are making amazing art without an institution. Find those who truly adore your work and ask them to fund it. Screw non-profit. Form a corporation and value your art art-making as a resource that profits you, your viewers/audience and your community. I have no idea.
But please don't return to a new version of the old. After the virus, after he's out of office, after police reform and nationwide conversations about race, after, after, after, begin something new. I can't wait to see what it is!”
Words: Pier Carlo Talenti
Video: Griffin Matthews
April Yvette Thompson