Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Are you "somebody?"

First, the answer is, "yes."

Problems arise in American culture when, to be seen as "somebody" too often means that you have to be on television or in the top ten ... whatever (singer, movie, team, speller), are recognized by others for doing nothing (i.e., a celebrity), are recognized for doing something - such as being exceptionally skilled, athletic, famous or infamous or--

You get what I mean .. the message is that we're not considered really special unless we are "known" -- by others. Through rumor or media or popularity or in some over the top, larger than life way.

At his core, Cho Seung-Hui wanted to be somebody - and we now see he planned for years just how to become somebody - notorious - in American history.

On a much less sinister level, one thing we've done to feed this cultural hunger is set up places advertising that we ... exist.


Like myspace.com and other websites that flash your photo and username - or the photo of someone you claim to be - on the internet for no other reason than .. than .. you sumitted a photo, and then not even necessarily of yourself.

For folks just starting out in the biz or stars wanting exposure with fan bases, these websites might work just fine.

But when I had a myspace.com site for a nanosecond, I was stricken - and uncomfortable - with how many people I barely knew or actually didn't know at all who wanted to be my "friend." Some brag they have "hundreds" or even thousands of "friends" on their myspace and that's supposed to mean something.

Are they really friends? Or real friends? Or friends at all?

Friendship is a serious commitment to me; I don't need a website to identify or communicate with them.

I guess one significant way we feel like we're "somebody" is to have a reflection of who we are from others - coworkers, friends, family, pets, others - and hopefully it's a correct impression.

Some people can actually believe that they are really popular if they have a bazillion friends listed on their website - no matter how few with whom they actually have a personal or intimate relationship.

Or if the reflection and comments of others are too fantastic -- we may think we have to "live up to" that high falootin' impression. Especially if it's not really who we are. Do we respond by trying to be the person they believe we are rather than have the courage to show them who we really are?

One way to show how much of a "somebody" we are is to figure out all the reasons and ways we are unique, important and valuable - to ourselves as well as others. Even if the others don't recognize those qualities in us. It's especially important to get in touch with those fantastic qualities within ourselves if in the past we've overlooked just how unique, important and valuable we are -- to ourselves and therefore to others.

The point is that whether we realize it or not, each of us is, indeed, "somebody."

Problems can occur when we don't realize that we are already somebody - or conversely if we believe we are somebody we actually are not.

Nothing wrong with trying to change - to enhance who we are.

But if we believe we're a concert pianist and we've only taken a few lessons?

Well, *that* could be a problem. ;-)

Again, great stuff for drama - not so great experienced in living color.

I've coached people who realized they wanted to become camera actors so they could show old classmates who picked on or bullied them that now they are somebody. After they started appearing in films or on TV, however, the passion they thought they felt for the work dissipated - because they got into the business for the wrong reasons.

Others want to be in films and on TV to pump up their self-esteem. Only to discover that self-esteeem has to be worked out and in place before working their way up the food chain in the biz of show.

If it's not already in place, insecure people act out in all sorts of horrendous ways when they start getting massive attention; their egos expand hugely and they become a real pill to work with instead of a true professional. All of that is caused from fear - the fear of being exposed as the nobody they believe they really are inside. These people become so intolerable to work with, as soon as their popularity wanes, they are no longer employed because no one wants to be around them.

The list of these former stars is long, indeed.

The "spiritual advisor" to one famous star told me nightmareish stories about how her client wouldn't even buy a plane ticket without checking with her first. The same for making work, personal and other choices we all face in everyday life. The star called her spiritual advisor any and all times of the day and night to find out if she should or shouldn't do something.

The "spiritual advisor" told me the star and I could work really well together on a project, but I freaked. I could not see myself working with someone that insecure and withdrew the project.

Interestingly I realized that here is someone who is seen as a "real" somebody, but doesn't in many ways feel enough of her own power to experience herself as a real somebody who can rely on her own judgement for too many basic decisions in her life.

By the way, that star also turned out to be a pretty vengeful person - she said some pretty nasty things about me after I withdrew the project.

Meanwhile, contrast that with the person who believes he or she is an amazing really bigshot somebody, but whom everyone around him or her only considers a pain in the posterior.

Like the guy currently in jail for squandering his company's money and assets on lavish personal gifts, homes, celebrations and trips. He considered himself an international somebody, as did everyone else. He also believed everyone around him, including his trophy wife, actually loved him. More, adored him.

But as soon as the position, homes, possessions and money were gone and he faced a few years in prison, so were all his "friends," co-workers who might have cared about him but didn't tell him how they experienced his behavior for fear of losing their jobs, sychophants, trophy wife, everyone. Buh-bah.

Today he sits in his jail cell, past midlife, starting life all over.

But now, his challenge is to understand that "even" in this situation - he is still somebody. He needs to discover his authentic self - his true identity - and what is genuinely valuable, important and unique about him that he can offer to himself and the world in order to be a healthy, happy, fulfilled somebody.

Gosh, this stuff fascinates me - think of all the stories that could be created about individuals from any one of these scenarios.

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