You don’t suck

Post originally written for parlepost.com

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Quote: Jen Sincero

Ever have someone hate you?

I once was tweeting with a director. (Yes. Tweeting with a director. It’s a thing.)

I had auditioned for him previously. He suggested we meet up for coffee. “Yes please!” Unfortunately it never happened. I stopped hearing from him. I attempted to connect with him on Facebook, but he never accepted. This did wonders for my self esteem.

Click here to read full post! 

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Tony. Why do I have to click links?” 

I’m a contributing writer to parlepost.com. In the hopes that I can stay on the team, I’ve asked readers to check out my content on their page.

“So like, is this content any different?” 

Nope! Still me talking in my own voice about taking control and being a happier person.

“Does this mean you’re done posting original content here?” 

Nope! But I’ll be linking the post that are up.

“Okay fine. I kind of like your content regardless. Are you, like, available for hire?”

You bet. Shoot me an email at tony.rossi@gmail.com to discuss what you’re looking for and we’ll see if I’m a good fit!

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Dear Actors…..

Hi. It’s Tony.

You might know me, you might not. (Either way it’s cool.)

I just wanted to share some thoughts with you as a 29 year old actor, still working day jobs, and very much looking forward to…not working day jobs. I’m not where I want to be yet. And I have my share of “Am I doing this right?” days. That said – I know I’m exactly where I need to be and exactly on the right track.

Three years ago, I started reading personal development books. “Tony… I’ve never heard of personal development.” Here’s the Tony-version: Personal development involves books, materials, and other types of formal/informal training that either give you a better understanding of yourself or of others. You’ll learn about these things in a positive and productive way. With consistent application, you become more realistic about your goals while remaining optimistic about the obstacles. 

Personal development has changed my life in a lot of ways. But if I had to sum it up in one word, it’d be this one: confidence. I feel better about myself. I feel better about how I look. I feel unstoppable when it comes to my goals. It’s pretty bad ass. And because of personal development, I’ve found I bring a better “Tony 2.0” to my acting career. I’m unapologetic for who I am as a person, so I’m unapologetic when I audition. I’m more confident when presenting myself. And if I mess up in class – eh. It makes me more human. Not a bad thing at all. 

This wonderful thing I found isn’t something everyone knows about. I see a lot of people who could be crushing it in their field, if only they had more confidence. But fear not, friends. I got good news: Personal development can be learned by anyone. In fact, you’re hearing this from a guy who use to loathe reading. (Unless the title started with “Harry Potter and….”) 

So if you’re not a reader, not into personal development, and haven’t yet gained that confidence that you year for, I’ll share a little secret with you that I picked up. This is just for you. And it’s this – You are awesome. 

Seriously. You’re a badass. Think about it: You’re purusing an acting career. You’re here for a reason. And unless you find yourself hating the stage, hating the camera, or dreading the thought of your friends and family all crowding on the couch to watch your debut on Chicago Fire, please know you’re doing the right thing and you’re on the right path. (Especially if you think you’re, like, way behind from where you should be.)

So do yourself a favor – realize right now – yes, RIGHT NOW – that you’re a badass and don’t need to apologize for any “imperfections” that may or may not exist. You’re not doing the class a disservice by bringing your weird interpretation to the role. You’re not bothering the casting associates who are sitting in for your general call. If they are bothered, it’s because they need a career change – not you. So take charge. Acknowledge your inner awesomeness. You. Fucking. Deserve it. 

It’s time you acknowledged it. Actually, you should have started this yesterday, but I’ll cut you some slack. So please. There’s a lot of people out there waiting for you to show up, be you, and even pay you for doing what you love. 

Let’s go get ‘em. 

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PS – If you’re a Salem State University student, please hear these words…but also realize you’re on the right track. After sitting in and chatting with you guys this past week, I’ve found that you guys are well aware of just how fucking awesome you are. Kudos, my friends.

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Tony is a theatre and film actor living in Chicago, just up the street from Wrigley Field 🙂 He loves helping others to become the happiest version of themselves so that they can live more fun, fulfilled lives on their own terms.

He also loves to write blogs on how to do this. 

Contact him for a free one-on-one to see if he can help you with your own mindset and happiness in life, or to inquire if he can do some writing for you!  You can reach him attony.rossi@gmail.com

PS – Rumor has it that he loves when you hit that “share” button for friends and family to see 😉 

What to do when you feel like you’re undeserving (like I did last week)

It’s funny how quickly we can talk ourselves out of something we want. 

I personally experience this a lot when it comes to what other people will think of me. 

“You want to do…what?” 

“Why do you think you deserve to to that?” 

“You do realize you’re a [insert reason here why I can’t have that thing I’m asking for because I’m too young, too behind in my career, etc], right?” 

Of course, these are all thoughts I’ve made up in my head. And yet, they still come to mind quite frequently. 

Which is why I was surprised to find myself turning my bike around to head into the Steppenwolf box office Sunday night. 

It was Opening Night for “Straight White Men.” It wasn’t on their calendar. They weren’t selling tickets. Yet there I was, dismounting my bike, and peeking through the glass to see if the box office was even open. 

They were. 

The following is a close description of what I said upon walking up to the window: 

“Hi! Okay, like, I know this is a long shot, but like….and I know you aren’t exactly selling tickets for tonight’s press opening of Straight White Men but like…do you, maybe, have anything available for tonight’s show?” 

…they didn’t. 

I exited. As I did, I recognized the playwright, Young Jean Lee, exiting the theatre. She was with two other people dressed nicely. They all looked very important – much more importantly than the guy who just asked for tickets to opening night of the show that wasn’t even being advertised. (Side note: This, of course, was my perspective given my situation.) There I was – a non union actor with a non union agent, with a laundry list of Chicago acting goals in his journal back home, who was walking behind them out of the theatre. 

Needless to say – I was not exactly feeling on top of the world. But here’s the crazy part – the box office staff responded in a manner I was NOT expecting:

“Yeah man! Sorry, I got nothing for tonight. But like, yeah! I mean…please come back and see us!” 

He almost seemed apologetic for not having anything for me. For not having any seats for the show that wasn’t even on the calendar. 

Here’s the thing, friends: We come up with all sorts of reasons in our head why we aren’t enough and why we don’t deserve our big, crazy, ridiculous goals. The goals that are literally triple the size of our checking account. And yet, sometimes we still get a kind reply – or an apologetic reply – that it’s just not our time yet – from the Universe. (Or the dude from Steppenwolf Box Office. I need to get his name.) 

Our goals do not dictate our awesomeness. We are awesome and deserving exactly where we are today. 

Oh, and wanna know the best part? 

I may or may not have crashed their after party. Here’s a recap: 

-I mingled with a few of the actors.

-I had an ever so short interaction with playwright Young Jean Lee. 

-I had an awesome chat with some of the costume team.

-I was told by one of the designers from the New York team, “You’re going to be on this stage one day.” 

Here’s the thing: These were nice, awesome and inspiring people. I’m willing to bet they’d be just as nice to any other actor in my position. And yet, it helped. It made me feel deserving. 

But let’s pretend we didn’t crash the after party and didn’t get this reassurance from people we respect and want to emulate. The words I heard that night that gave me so much confidence were something I could have chosen to feel confident about regardless. 

I want you to feel confident regardless of your situation too. 

You are awesome. You are deserving. If you have an opportunity – please take it. 

Sound good? Good. 

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Let’s go get ‘em. 

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Tony is a theatre and film actor living in Chicago, just up the street from Wrigley Field 🙂 He loves helping others to become the happiest version of themselves so that they can live more fun, fulfilled lives on their terms. Contact him for a free one-on-one to see if he can help you with your own mindset and happiness in life at tony.rossi@gmail.com

PS – Rumor has it that he loves when you share his content with friends and family.

What Happens When We Make Assumptions

I’ve shared a lot in the past about that negative voice who chimes in from time to time.

Sometimes this voice tells us we’re not good enough. Sometimes it talks us out of doing something we know we should do. Other times, it just makes stuff up.

Today was a day where that negative voice was just making stuff up.

I was training a group of employees as part of a non acting gig I help out with. Perhaps it was the lack of sleep the night before. Maybe it was being in an environment that had a lot of uncertainty. For whatever reason, the negative voice was being extra loud today. I was asking myself a lot of questions prior to getting there…and they weren’t too positive:

-Am I going to be good enough?

-Will the management dislike me and wish someone older/more experienced was here?

-Is this going to be one of those trainings where the employees can’t wait to leave?

I arrived with all of my materials and supplies…and saw two people were there.

-Oh god. It’s so quiet. They’re going to hate this.

-I’m going to breeze through this in two minutes and not have enough information to share.

-They’re totally going to expect more hands-on activities than I have prepared.

Friends, an interesting thing happens when we start to assume things: We connect the dots ourselves. We create answers that are often false or exaggerated. The truth was, I was creating yet another gloom and doom scenario.I was also making up answers based false information the negative voice was feeding me.

So how did it actually go?

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-About a dozen employees were there in total.

-….they were delightful!

-Questions were asked, notes were taken, and their response was positive. 

-They also laughed at my jokes. (Always a win)

This wasn’t an acting gig, yet I left with a big smile on my face. I even had the courage to ask them to take a picture at the end – something I was sure that would make them groan and roll their eyes…

“Oh sure! We’d love to! Stay in our seats? Oh no, we’ll stand for you…”

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Making assumptions based on negative self talk and inexperience will just lead to stress.

Don’t do it. Remind yourself that you’re an amazing person who didn’t end up in your situation by accident. Instill belief in yourself so you can perform what you know, deep down, you’re capable of doing. 

Go get ‘em.

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You know you’re in a good mood when you take a selfie on the CTA!
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How to Handle Fear Without Getting Rid of It

UPDATE: Between reading, audio books, youtube videos, and team calls, I get in a lot of personal development. Because of this, I get a bit confused sometimes on where I learned the theme. I’ll start keeping better track in order to give credit where credit is due. 

As it turns out, this analogy was used in “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert. 

….I have yet to read the book (but it’s on my list!) I’m guessing I heard the concept on a team call, hosted by Ali Goodman. She’s always giving me gems on our team meetings. It’s also possible I heard the concept from a recent call for Courtney Rioux’s #MyBigYear2016 program. 

….can’t you tell I’m surrounded by awesome people? 

While I’m grateful to have these BRILLIANT words posted here for all to read, the credit goes to these folks for this one. Read on! 

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I always needed a ride somewhere growing up: School, rehearsals, summer theatre workshops, band practice, you name it. I needed to be there. (I was very important as a child).

Of course, you can’t just assume Mom and Dad can take you everywhere. They have lives too. Luckily for them, there’s this fantastic thing called carpooling. Here’s the thing about carpooling as a child: You don’t have a say in who rides with you. This can be unpleasant if you’re riding with someone you don’t want to ride with.

Buckle up, friends. We’re about to get in a car with someone rather unpleasant:

…Fear.

Even when we want it to leave the car, it doesn’t leave when we ask politely. Understand that when this happens, we don’t have to panic. In fact, we can drive ahead with fear sitting there in the car. Here’s how:

1) Accept that fear is allowed to ride with us.

Fear is going to show up at some very inconvenient times. If you’re an actor, you might get scared before a big audition. If you’re in sales, you might get scared before calling up a prospect. If you’re a single guy living by yourself, you might get scared every time you pass by a cute girl in your building…

Regardless of the situation, fear often comes up when we don’t want it to. I recommend accepting that it’s along for the ride. Often when we don’t acknowledge our negative emotions, we’re not accepting that there’s a problem. If we’re not accepting reality, how can we fix it?

2) Don’t feed fear with time.

Do you have something on your to-do list that makes you really uncomfortable? Get it done and get it done now. The more time we give it, the stronger fear gets. It leads to a lack of confidence. While sometimes we need a little prep time, don’t mistake that with procrastinating. The sooner you can cross this off your list, the better.

3) Fight fear with confidence.

Fear might be allowed for the ride. But it sure as hell doesn’t get to drive. Fear sits in the back. The best way to move forward, despite the fear, is having confidence.

Once you start getting results on your road to your goals, you’re going to notice the fear less and less. Auditions are less scary when you start booking more projects. Sales are less scary when you start gaining more clients. And that girl in your apartment? Okay she’s still intimidating…but she’s less intimidating if you know her name and know she likes puppies. (That’s just a guess.)

The more confident we get, the less we listen to fear. Without results, you might have to fake it a bit in the beginning. Take this time to feed off of encouragement from those close to you. Even if it’s in an area unrelated to your goals. Use whatever you can to fuel your confidence until you start seeing results.

So understand these points as you go about your own road to your scary (but awesome) goals: Fear is allowed for the ride. Fear is not allowed to drive. It feeds off of time – so don’t give it any. Get the uncomfortable things done early in the day. Then do what you can to gain confidence.

Also, there’s a fourth option that involves no fear: You can avoid the scary road altogether and not get in the car at all.

…..but that would lead to living a crazy, awesome, and happier life now, would it?

Go get ‘em, friends.

An important letter to read when you’re feeling frustrated

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Hi there!

Really glad you’re reaching out. I realize that chatting with me seems kind of silly, so I really appreciate what you’re doing here. Let’s get down to business.

First off, congratulations! I’m so glad that you’ve been taking action towards something that you really want. I understand that you’re not where you want to be right now – don’t worry, I’ll address that shortly. But I want you to know how proud I am of you for getting where you are now. Even if you are far away from the overall goal, you’re taking action. That’s a success. Always celebrate your successes.

Now let’s talk about this negativity you’ve been feeling lately: This is normal. After the honeymoon phase of “Hooray! I’m taking action and everything is wonderful and smells like peaches!” phase is over, you’re bound to run into some obstacles (though it certainly doesn’t hurt to have peaches around the apartment). From here on out, I need you to pay attention to when that negativity creeps in.

Ever hear that negative voice when you reach an obstacle? You’ll hear things like, “You’re not good enough,” or “You’ll never get this done”? I like to call this guy, “asshole voice.” The more you listen to asshole voice, the more you’re going to believe it. And that’s when you’ll find yourself getting more and more frustrated. Hence where you’re at right now.

So what are you supposed to do whenever that voice creeps back in? There are two options:

1) Come find me. Then we’ll have this talk again so I can remind you how awesome you are. Remember what we talked about in the beginning? How happy I am for you that you’re taking action and for getting to this point? I’m not saying this just to kiss your ass. (Although you do have a great ass, if I say so myself). I’m saying it because it’s TRUE. You are awesome, and you’re doing awesome work. Don’t listen to asshole voice telling you otherwise.

That being said, there are going to be times when you don’t feel like listening to me (which is outrageous!…but understandable). When this happens, you have another option.

2) Find a friend to talk to. A real friend. Someone who always listens and doesn’t criticize you. We have lots of friends who are easy to reach out to. But for this specific example, I want you to get in touch with one of those people who always makes you feel awesome.

I don’t wanna be too redundant here, but please, remember the message: You are kicking ass right now. Try to remind yourself of this when asshole voice comes back.

Talk soon,

Your inside voice who gives you confidence.

Okay everyone, I just want to say a few words about the above letter.

*Guys in the back from last week grumble because they thought we were done*

Don’t worry, I’ll be quick!

*Guys in the back cheer!*

Sometimes we forget about our voice that gives us confidence. Usually it’s because we’ve encountered new obstacles that we didn’t consider when mapping out our goals. This is when asshole voice creeps in and tells us that we’re not going to be able to achieve them.

Bullshit.

Find that inner voice who loves us. If you’re feeling too frustrated to listen, find a friend!  It’s always helpful to get encouragement from others.

And it doesn’t hurt to tell yourself you have a nice ass.

My Biggest Internet Confession Ever

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“You listen to what, Tony?!” (Photo by Jason M Hammond)

 

I have a confession: I’m embarrassed to tell people what music I listen to. Like, really embarrassed. I freeze up every time I get asked. I damn near threw my laptop out the window once I saw Spotify was showing my facebook friends my songs. And the reason I don’t like to tell people what I listen to is because the response is usually something like, “What?! You listen to Miley?! That music is crap! You gotta listen to some Zeplin. That’s real music!”

Have you ever had this conversation? Someone decides that your style of music isn’t “right” and they go on to tell you the type of music that you “should” be listening to. I’m tired of this. And I’m ready to make a loud, internet confession:  

I listen to pop. I listen to music that some people label as “garbage.” I like Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Kesha, Taylor Swift, Brittney Spears, Justin Beiber, Nikki Minaj, Selena Gomez, and many others. I’m sure you have a list ready for me about all the wrong/stupid/illegal things these celebrities have done. But you know what? I don’t care. They play good music, and I like listening to it. And as long as they aren’t physically harming other people, I could care less what they do with their personal lives (Though for the record, let’s chill with the Miley references on facebook).  

Admittedly, I also like music that a lot of high schoolers and even middle schoolers probably listen to. I was huge New Found Glory fan back in the day. I still enjoy listening to them every now and then. I also like Simple Plan, We The Kings and lots of other pop punk bands.

 If hearing these artists make you cringe, you’ll probably need a barf bag for this part: There are Nickelback songs that I like.

“Okay Tony. We get it. You listen to terrible music. Why are you telling us?” Because I realized recently that it’s not a bad thing. I’ve just always assumed it was a bad thing because from what I’ve been told, I’m the only person who likes these artists. First off, not true. I guarantee you I can find several readers who will collectively like all of the singers/bands I’ve listed – maybe not Nikelback. Second, your opinion of my music is, in fact, an opinion. And nothing more.

What about this whole thing where I’m the odd one out? Again, I don’t think this is necessarily true, but let’s say I am for a moment. I’ve had my share of circumstances where many people told me not do something that I liked/wanted to do. Here are some instances where I was the minority and had others disagree with me:

-Moving to Chicago

-Moving to Chicago for acting

-Going to school for acting/trying acting as a career

-Waiting tables as a side gig.

I originally intended to talk about how I accomplished many of these things. However that comes off cocky, and I also haven’t accomplished all of them.  There’s a good chance that I won’t accomplish some. (Though I am CRUSHING the whole waiting tables thing!) And maybe that means those who told me not to do go after those goals were right. But you know what? That’s for me to figure out.

And you know what else? Maybe I’ll realize someday that the music I’m listening to now is actually garbage. That’s for me to figure out too. My hope is that if you’re in a situation where people are telling you not to do something that you really and truly want, you’ll go after it or do it anyway. Within reason. Let’s not do anything silly like hurt someone, or root for the Yankees.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some Taylor Swift to listen to before bed.