I think we all buy into a lot of crap in our American culture – in a lot of cultures actually.
Let’s start with “Prince Charming”. Young girls grow up believing in the fantasy that there is ”the ideal man” out there who is perfect in every way. And young boys grow up with their own version of this fairytale. It’s really too bad because it’s all those flaws and differences that make us all human and drive us all crazy, that are the very things we should embrace. In our expectations for perfection and our intolerance for less, we often see only the “blemishes” or the cons and overlook the overall person. We fail to see that it is all of those things that go into the make up of a person’s character. It took my husband and I many years to figure out that the very things that annoyed us about one another – our differences – made us stronger as a couple.
There is no such thing as an “overnight success”. We believe that because in our culture we only hear about the successes. For some reason we don’t look at the big picture and everything that led to that recognition. Success is an interesting concept to me anyway. Many people define it by winning or attaining financial wealth. Ultimately, it’s defined by a final destination rather than the journey. Is it really about the final destination? If so how does one determine if only one win is enough or how much money is enough?
Talk to anyone who has risen to celebrity status and they will talk about the ups and the downs and the constantly evolving journey. A lot of musicians, who have had big hits and have gotten rave reviews, don’t always get the same glory the 2nd, 3rd or 4th time around. Their careers are made up of the highs and the lows and everything inbetween.
I’ve had my share of highs and lows. Last week I got my rejection notice from the Sundance Film Festival for my film, Opening Our Eyes. Rather than be despondent about it, I will frame this email rejection as a reminder to myself that I entered and had the courage to try. There were over 11,000 entries and only 16 documentaries will be shown this year. I am proud to be in this 99%. This rejection is but one of many that I’ve had over the years of my career. I’ve certainly had more rejections than I’ve had successes, but the failures have only made the successes that much sweeter.
This film in particular has been an evolving journey for me – with no destination in sight. While it may never be a “success” in terms of how some people define that word, for me it has already brought many unexpected rewards to my life. For example, I’ve just returned from Sao Brazil, Brazil where I had been invited to do a TEDx talk. It was one of those weekends that gave me great hope for the future as I dialoged with amazing people who were doing extraordinary things with their lives and for the lives of others. The next evening I was given the opportunity to screen my film at MIS, a beautiful museum in Sao Paulo. During the Q&A, a man asked me if making this film had changed my life. I didn’t have to give it a second thought before I answered “yes and it continues to do so in amazing ways.”
I will continue to embrace the entire journey – the lows as well as the highs.