How Facing My Fear led to a New Acting Job

If there’s anything I’ve learned from facing my fears it’s that once I do I effectively change my life. I create and share new work to inspire people, get a new job to work hard on, or meet new friends to enjoy life with. In this case, facing fear led to a new acting job as a standardized patient (SP), but I almost didn’t even make it to my interview for it. If you don’t know what an SP is, more on that in a bit.

My interview was out in Long Island and I’m based in Queens so I didn’t think it’d be too challenging to get out there. The directions told me the fastest route was to travel into Manhattan first and then take an express bus out. I hopped on the subway and zipped out to Manhattan. Then things started to not go so smoothly.

After a fight with a metro card machine, it wouldn’t read my metro card because there was a little dent in it, I finally refilled my card with the funds for the express bus. Having conquered that machine I walked over to the bus stop in Midtown. I was right on time for a bus that wound up being 45 minutes late. At this point I was an hour away from an interview that was supposed to happen in 15 minutes.

I was freaking out. I very nearly walked away from the bus stop and went home. I told myself the job is too far away, they’ll never want to hire someone so late to an interview, and why do I even want to be an actor maybe this was a sign, yeah I was spiraling into that negative self talk zone. I realize now I was trying to rationalize my fear of disappointing people I’d never met and who might actually be understanding.

I forced myself to keep waiting and got on the very late bus when it arrived. I then charged straight to the back of the bus and just let the tears roll, interview makeup be damned. I was mad at myself for not being in control of the bus, for not finagling the situation perfectly and mostly for being late.

Yet even as I was having a moment I found the courage to email the guy who had set up my interview and tell him I was running late. Then I realized he might not get that in time and I called him and told him I was running late, forcing my voice to sound calm. He thanked me for calling and said he got my email as well and wished me good luck on my interview. I took positive action and got a little positive energy sent back my way. I started to calm myself and prepare for my interview. I reviewed my notes, fixed my makeup and took in the trees rolling by my window.

I finally arrived at the office and checked in for my interview and agreed to let someone else go in before me who had waited longer. During the hour I waited I continued to prepare for my interview/ audition. When I finally got in the room I was completely honest with them about my morning, told them about the emotional bits, how I recovered and how I’d plan better next time. They were understanding, maybe even a little amused, and told me about their amazing SP program.

SP actors take on the personal history, physical symptoms, and emotional characteristics of actual patients and then improvise with student doctors to help them train for optimal patient interactions. This hospital goes all out with their doctor/patient simulations. Cases I might play as an SP include a pregnant woman in labor, a homeless person sitting in an entryway (for this one they shut down the whole office building and put makeup on us to help us look more bedraggled), or a victim of sexual assault where they’d actually pick us up in an ambulance and drive around doing an entire intake scenario with an EMT in training. Those are just some examples of over 50 different training cases they have.

They interviewed me for an hour and then they offered me the SP job on the spot!! Flash forward to today, one month later, I’ve just had my first orientation for the job. The President of the hospital came and spoke to us, about 100 new hires across all departments of the hospital, and said something that really resonated with me: ‘You don’t fail when you lose, you fail when you quit.’

I would say the inverse is also true: you don’t succeed when you win, you succeed when you keep going. My success on that interview day was in getting on the damn bus, even though it wasn’t perfect, even though I felt embarrassed and emotional. If I hadn’t persevered I wouldn’t have won later in the day and booked the job. My success was in taking action and facing my fear of disappointing someone.

Today at the orientation they asked us to fill in the blank, ‘I am made to…’ My answer? ‘I am made to inspire people.’ I can’t predict when I’ll have an opportunity to do so, but often times I just have to show up and be present for whatever the Universe sends my way and it gives me that opportunity.

At one of the break out sessions during the orientation today we had to share personal stories about what we wanted to be as a kid and how it connects to our job at the hospital now. My answer? I’m doing what I wanted to do when I was younger, as a standardized patient I get to use my acting chops to help train doctors in patient care. My table mates told me that inspired them. See what I mean? Thank you, Universe.

Facing Fears: Solitude & Self Love

I recently separated from my boyfriend of many years. We’re still friends and didn’t break it off because of drama or anything like that, but after several years of being romantically attached I’m now single. I’m taking advantage of my newfound solitude to strengthen my inner core, not my abs (yet), but my will and drive and focus.

Solitude is a really marvelous thing. It’s kind of uncomfortable to acknowledge you’re a solitary being on your own journey because it doesn’t feel safe. Embracing that requires you step up to the plate, pick up the bat, and swing for what you want. It requires you to do that again and again and again and if you don’t you will yourself to sit on the sidelines and watch an empty field that could be filled with home runs.

(Photo credit: Dan Corbett)

I’ve recently discovered the only way to enjoy solitude is to love yourself and that I have not loved myself in a while. I love other people, I love the feeling of sunshine on my skin, I love the ocean, I love laughing with friends and family and I love home cooked meals. I love a lot but I’ve neglected loving myself for a long time.

(Photo credit: Dan Corbett)

A lack of self love is hard to recognize when you’re being loved by another human being because they help to fill that void. On the other hand when you’re in a relationship with someone else you still need some solitude and a ton of self love, and I believe it’s vital to learn to embrace self love whether or not you’re in a romantic relationship. Also, although Hollywood routinely shows us accomplished men as solitary figures and women as partners to them, it’s a journey worth taking no matter what your gender.

(Photo credit: Dan Corbett)

I’ve been practicing self love, in the past four months or so, by bringing things I loved to do when I was a kid back into my life: martial arts, writing poetry, and traveling. I’ve been spending more time with my friends, specifically female friends and that feels so good and safe and fun. I’m completing projects I’ve had in limbo for years. I’m noticing that by allowing myself to do things I love I’m more eager to connect with people I love and actively engage with the world.

I believe the path of solitude and self love, over time, leads you through the hero’s journey. If I’m honest, I’ve been afraid to actively love myself. I’ve been afraid of how powerful that is and how radically I’ll change my surroundings. That fear of self love undoubtedly has held me back in my creative career as well. However I’m now determined to love myself into a vibrantly creative life and hopefully I’ll give back and inspire people along the way. I’m in the midst of my own hero’s journey. 💛

I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going.