Of Overthinking Advice

In your lifetime, you’ll get hundreds of pieces of advice. Most of them you’ll ignore, just for the sake of making your own mistakes, so you can learn from them. But some will stick and some will come back to you when you least expect them.

In my case, I’m still not sure if the words my grandpa would repeat each day like a mantra, count as advice. But the more I live and experience, the more I find myself pondering those words. They seemed so obvious, when I used to hear them all the time. He said „You have a heart and a brain. Use them.”

What could be more obvious then that? Of course I have a heart and a brain, I’m a human am I not? My teenage self would shake her head, kiss him on the cheek (or not) laugh and say „I know, I know” and be on her way. But as life goes on it seems like it’s harder to see it as something so clear and easy. Not because I don’t believe I have a heart or a brain, but more because I’m having a harder and harder time using them both. It’s almost like these two are constantly competing with each other, trying to decide which one is more right then the other. And perhaps there are matters in life that are only matters of the heart and things that only brain needs to concern itself with, but when it comes to making decisions it would be rather nice if they could agree on something. If something could be good and wise, rather than good, but stupid. I know I’m not making any special discovery when I talk about this, everybody seems to be pretty aware of the differences between the heart and the brain. Or, as  some pragmatic would call it, the left and the right brain.

So you see, I spend my time trying to figure out what he meant. I never asked him, because I thought I knew. I could ask him now, but the way he is, I’m not sure if he could give me an answer. And maybe the question would be stupid, because it’s so obvious and I’m trying to read too much into it?

Maybe it’s in the way he lived his own life? He was kind yet smart. And he was known for his kindness and intelligence. I was told so, at least. I believe it. I think we all need to keep believing in our childhood heroes, no matter how much we learn about life in the process of living, and how improbable some of those stories seem, as we grow up.

As I’m writing this, I’m not even sure if this is the kind of inspiration the daily post was looking for. I’m sure people received some amazing advice in their life they can follow, instead of trying to figure the meaning out. Then again, a known fact about myself is that I think too much, so perhaps it’s nothing that needs thought, but just something simple? Maybe it’s… Follow your heart and be kind, but always apply logic and remember to trust your knowledge of the world, to guide you through life’s challenges? That kind of makes sense, doesn’t it?


In case it doesn’t, there’s always this advice my grandpa gave me. Pretty straight forward: „careful at the crosswalks!”

Of Small Steps

More like tiny steps.

It is a fairly common thing to hear. Take small steps instead of big leaps if you want to get to your destination. Trouble is, and I see it in most people my age, we want to get where we want to be… Fast. We don’t want to waste our time working, or rather we’re willing to work, as long as the work has immediate effects and brings us quickly towards our goal. Unfortunately for most people, myself included, life doesn’t work that way. It is almost unnatural to find immediate success in the thing you want to do or the passion you wish to pursue. It takes time and patience and sometimes it’s hard not to get frustrated. Especially since we do live in such a cynical world. I recently was having a conversation with a friend about my blog. I mentioned that I had just started writing it, and that I feel fairly happy about it. And I do. Not because it’s largely successful, not even because it’s good. I mean, I enjoy it, but quality of work is a very objective thing and I can’t be a judge of that. Sometimes I love it, sometimes not so much, through that I practice and learn. The point  is: I’m doing it. I’m doing it a little and I’m making myself do it regularly. Next step being writing every day. I’m not there yet. I will be.

His question to me was: „How many views do you have?” views being the only direct way to measure a blogs’ success. I blinked my eyes a couple of times, experiencing a flashback. It isn’t anything surprising, but people love to verify what you claim to be, in measuring your popularity. Granted, at the end of the day, one way of figuring out how well you’ve done, is when you see other people having use for it and appreciating it. But when I told people I came out to LA to be an actress, one of the first questions asked was „What have I seen you in?” and then the traditional „Well, you know, someday I’ll be telling stories about how I gave this actress a ride”. And you scoff and leave because you have to deal with the reality, that despite the efforts you put into it, you don’t feel any closer to accomplishing your goal. Which is to be able to say „I’ve been in this and that, my next project I’m not supposed to talk about” but it’s really a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio, directed maybe by Martin Scorsese and then you’ll finally be one of those people that the cab drivers brag about. But until that dream becomes a reality, you have to hustle and grind, and nowhere is it promised, that it will actually come true. And it’s the same thing with writers. Whatever it is you’re doing. There will always be ways by which society is going to try to measure your success, but the truth is: only you know what success means to you and if you’re getting closer to it, or not.

This as a whole makes me realize, whatever it is you’re trying to do, there are many moments in which you won’t feel like you’re making enough progress or as if you’re moving at all, but the truth is, with every action you take, you make a step forward to whatever destination it is you’re chasing. It’s when you let questions like that stop you, or your own fears and doubts resonate in your thoughts for a little too long, that’s when you first start putting your journey to a halt. Here’s what I firmly believe in. Doing is the best practice. If you can do, whatever it is that you love, every day, do your best to do it every day. Trust me, I’m still figuring this step out because there’s always all sorts of things that distract you, life just loves messing with us, and sometimes we make choices that pull us a little farther from the goal but make our experience as humans richer. It’s when you don’t do it because you’d rather just do something that you already know doesn’t benefit you in any way… That’s when you should pause and rethink your approach to passion, I believe. And frankly that’s how I found that acting wasn’t really that big of a passion of mine. Because after a couple of months I couldn’t get myself to do the most basic things actors need to do, which is submitting myself for projects, trying to find jobs and developing the craft. Here’s to another attempt at finding a passion. And hoping it will stick. If this fear resonates with anybody, please let me know. Either way, for some reason with writing the whole practice stage seems a lot more accessible. You can always do it, and if you can’t, learn about it. Setting realistic goals, doesn’t mean you’re not shooting for the stars, it means that instead of shooting blindly, you’re actually building a path to reach them.

Here’s another thing that people like to say to young artists. „Just do it, that is the best way to do it”. I even said so myself, a second ago. But what I think is being left out in the process is learning more about that thing that you are trying to do. Granted, practice is the best teacher, but if you don’t know where to begin, it is good to have guidance and some form of structure to know when you’re making a point and when you’re completely lost in your own actions. It’s a little like throwing punches while being blindfolded. You know you’re trying to hit something or do something, but you just can’t seem to figure out the direction it’s supposed to go.

Speaking from personal experience, I attempted writing a stream of consciousness story, that was myself, looking upon myself from the outside perspective and writing about what I was experiencing as well as who I was perceiving, as I looked into my written reflection. Interesting idea, I thought to myself, but I got to a point where I had to stop. The thoughts became unruly and the story I was trying to tell became something different. Sometimes that’s a good thing. Sometimes it’s the hand of God, or inspiration, or whatever you want to call it. Sometimes it’s just a mess. The more you know about the art or craft or passion you’re pursuing, the better you are at recognizing the difference and knowing how to structure what you’re taking on. Essentially, it’s like a person who wants to be a runner, participating in a marathon with hopes to win, without any training. Or an artist trying to paint a masterpiece equal to Mona Lisa, without ever studying the basic techniques.

To sum up. Know that even if the steps you’re taking are very tiny, with a combination of working and studying whatever you’re doing, you are moving forward. The road might not end up taking you where you expect, however. And don’t let your own doubts and critics in your mind tell you, you’re not good enough, just because you don’t have enough followers. All in due time.

And If you could’t tell, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Whenever I write those things, it  makes it easier for myself to process. I’m still going through all that struggle myself. I’m sharing my observations. I’m hoping it might be easier to relate to someone who’s going through the same thing. I find it hard to listen to mentors. I do listen, because I want to learn, but when they give you those mantras and pieces of wisdom, sometimes it feels like it’s coming from a different planet. Like they’re already where I wish to be and they’re trying to let me know how to get there, but all they know is the path that they have taken and I’m over here building my own path. Can’t really relate, even though I try to. So here’s hoping that there’s people out there, on that same journey, fighting their own battles and building their stairway to stardust.