Ego

Generally speaking, I find I’m only aware of interacting with the idea of the ego under the ideas of self-importance, self-esteem, and/or conceit. It wasn’t until acting class in LA that brought me back to my Grade 11 studies of psychology on the ego as defined in the dictionary:

the part of the psychic apparatus that experiences and reacts to the outside world and thus mediates between the primitive drives of the id and the demands of the social and physical environment”

Acting class truly allowed me to tap into that definition and become aware that the ego within ourselves is what keeps us to believe that we are “in control” of our lives and that we are safe. It was my Oprah “Ah-ha!” moment. If you don’t think you have that ego, well I’m here to tell you that you do.

Do you ever wonder why you can’t seem to quit your job, even though you know it’s making you unhappy, and to pursue your true passion? It’s because of your ego.

Do you ever wonder why you can never confront your best friend that they have hurt you? It’s your ego.

Do you ever wonder why you can’t break up with your boyfriend/girlfriend knowing the relationship is so toxic?  One word: EGO.

The ego is the voice that tries to rationalize so many different thoughts you have in your head to the point where you become out of control, unfulfilled, and confused. Every experience in life ends up becoming stagnant, tolerated, and safe because you don’t allow yourself to confront situations that are out of your comfort zone. Your ego responds by saying, respectively, to the above questions:

“My job is a highly reputable and recognized profession with a secure employment in any industry and a guaranteed 6-figure salary in the future. To be an actress, there is no guarantee I will be successful and prosper”;

“If I confront my best friend about how I feel, I may lose our friendship forever”; or

“I can’t break up with my boyfriend because they’re the only person I truly have and care about in my life right now. Without them, I’m lost”.

Your instincts will appear in a blink of these moments by considering how to confront these conflicting experiences in life that may seem so out of your element that you can’t imagine yourself doing it. But you can. Your ego is just holding you back so that you feel “in control” and rather just “play it safe”.

Since I was 6-7 years old, I always wanted to be an actress. But those thoughts only came for a split second because my ego would intervene and say “You’re not pretty enough, you’re not skinny enough, you’re Asian, etc”. And I accepted those as rational, reasonable responses. And since then, I’ve always played it safe. I asked myself questions like “What is the career that will be easy to get into?  Is this a career where I can make a reasonable amount of salary? Will I be respected among my social network?” I definitely pursued a safe choice in life but it’s left me unfulfilled in so many aspects of my life. So it wasn’t until last year I started to truly listen to myself and asked, “If I had no insecurities and no judgement upon myself, what is it that I would pursue?” And then my inner voice came again for that split moment and said “acting” as it has for many years. And from there, I allowed my instinct, and not my ego, to guide the life that I want, that I am worth, and that I love. And this has allowed me to be at a truly happy state of mind because I now feel I’m doing it for myself and not for the respect and acceptance of others.

I find meditating will help guide you to your inner voice because you free your mind of all the flaws, imperfections, and judgements you have on yourself. Spend some time to just act on your instincts because your mind is telling you something that is important. Don’t over-rationalize every single thought and place judgement on them, especially on yourself. Like I said, that’s your ego talking to you.

Thank you Anthony Meindl & studio staff for teaching me such a valuable lesson.

Meditation

I recently started meditating after it was assigned as my homework from my acting class. Strange that that would be my homework for acting, isn’t it? At least that’s what I initially thought. My unconventional acting book by Anthony Meindl called At Left Brain Turn Right illustrates that meditation is key to allow yourself zone into the moment leaving behind all preconceived thoughts, judgments, and anything else that’s junk in your head. As an actor, this is essential as it allows you to really live in the reality of your character as opposed to having predispositions of how things should be, which makes the acting more choreographed when it should seem like you and your character are just one. But this also rings true to real life because we tend to have “an idea” of how we should go about doing something as opposed to just doing it.

At Left Brain Turn Right

Even before I read the book, I knew that meditation was linked to all sorts of good things: happiness, success, and overall greater health. I just never adopted it because it’s so hard. But one thing about myself that I was certain before going into it was that I carried no judgment of myself. Or so I thought…

On my first attempt of meditating last week, I tried so hard to focus on my breath. But I kept running all these thoughts about people in my life and I somehow developed fictional conversations with them unconsciously. For example, there was a female in my acting class who kept staring (up and down) at me for a good amount of time last week. I sat diagonally behind her so it’s not just easy to just stare at me as she did. We’ve talked before and had a lovely conversation – but in class, her glances back at me did not make me feel comfortable. So as I was meditating, this memory came back to life to me. Although she did not say any words to me in my memory, her stare read to me as if she wanted to tell me the following in her sassy voice “What are you wearing? Your dress is too short. You’re showing too much skin. You’re in class, not at a bar”. [FYI: I was wearing a sleeveless black and white striped dress that was mid-thigh length and my military boots]. This is one of several thoughts I generally have while meditating. It’s always involving another person in my life who is either speaking or unconsciously speaking to me in a negative connotation. At the end of each meditation, I find myself either saying in my head or aloud “SHUT UP MIND, JUST SHUT UP”. I know that attitude is really the opposite of what I’m really trying to achieve when meditating but I just get so frustrated when I can’t close my mind at peace.

So then I asked myself why I kept having these negative, confusing, and yet fictional conversations with people in my life. Even when I’m not meditating, they still exist. Then the light bulb went off. The reason all this was happening is because I do judge myself – A LOT – and NEGATIVELY. All this time I was so in denial about it. The first chapter of Meindl’s book essentially said “stop judging yourself” in order to reach my deepest, most authentic self. My response: “Psh, I don’t judge myself.” But I DO! I don’t realize it because I use people in my life to say the words that I would say to myself if I looked at me. So even though the girl in my class looked at me, all those thoughts I had of what she was saying, was ME all this time thinking those things about me. For all I know, in reality, she could have said “I like her outfit” and kept staring at me for inspiration. Who knows!!?

Now that I look back at that class, I felt very well put together that day because I wanted to feel good. And when I saw everyone in class wear jeans and a long-sleeve tee, I started to feel insecure. And that insecurity transcended to fictional ill-judgment of everyone who did stare at me. How do I really know that people think of me THAT negatively? I don’t. Should I care? No.

It comes all down to being comfortable within my own skin and letting go of any judgment of myself. I know who I am more than anybody else in this world so I will let judgment pass.

I highly recommend everyone to just meditate – not just for better health, success and happiness. It’s the journey to unravel who you really are as a person and letting go of all the junk in your mental capacity that you don’t need so that you become a more awesome you.

Cory Monteith

I arrived in LA this past Saturday to pursue my passion for acting, knowing that I had a very limited time off from work to do so. I booked 3 audits within my first week of arrival to the best studios known in LA. My first audit took place at the Anthony Meindl’s Actor Workshop just yesterday.

An audit is essentially an observation of a class being taught live in front of you. I could not begin to describe how inspired and amazed I was from the start and end of the audit. I was even lucky enough to meet Anthony [studio director] himself as this typically does not happen until you reach a certain level in the studio. He started the class off by remembering Cory Monteith, who played a lead role in Glee, as Cory was actually a student at this studio. Seeing that I was watching a stage where Cory used to perform, just astounded me.

Cory

I was also struck by Anthony’s messages in relation to Cory’s death. His message was simply to say that life is too short and sometimes you have no control over it – so ask yourselves, what are you delaying your life for? Go for what you want, and don’t live in the routine of what life gives you. Give yourself greater permission to do what you want to do and don’t ever seek happiness from the outside.

Society has it backwards for us to believe if we work hard, we can succeed, and when we succeed, we can be happy. Inner happiness creates success, not the other way around! As long as we are happy with who we are inside, then everything else in life will fall in place for us the way we want it too.

And that is why I love acting. It’s constantly affirming me at the present moment and loving myself from inside out.

I hope I can get into this studio before I depart back home. Apparently, there are some people who have waited 5 months to get into this studio! As for now, I have two more audits this week – one in which I actually had to prepare my script! I’m excited and nervous all at the same time. Nonetheless, I do feel at home here.

Not Like Therapy

In acting class, a common constructive feedback in my performance was the fact that I tend to only touch the surface of choices I make in a character’s emotional journey. When I was sarcastic, I wasn’t sarcastic enough. When I was happy, I was still reserved. It was really frustrating for me to think I performed well and only to find I was short on emotions from watching my playback.

The great thing about the instructors I’ve worked with was the fact that they open up to me and ask me why I made such choices. As much as I was told that acting class should not be treated like therapy – I treat it so. I found out through self-discovery that working in the corporate world, I have a poker face. I can’t express too much as it’s considered a sign of weakness, unless I want to get fired of course. But I don’t. Who does!?

My instructors constantly reminded me that acting class was a safe haven to express emotions and carry that journey to places you’ve never been before. And I loved that. And I loved it even more when I saw the class react to my progression in a positive way.

Now that I’ve joined improv at Second City, my first class experience has really let me come out of my shell. To be spontaneous, proactive, and impulsive were things I never knew I could embrace.

There was one game called “Yes, Lets!” where someone would scream out “Let’s do this [fill in the blank]” and the group would scream “Yes, Lets!” and act out what the person screamed out. So when someone in the class screamed “Let’s audition for a reality show!!” and we responded “Yes, Lets!” my instinctive reaction was pretending I was on camera, taking off my shirt and flashing to everyone. Everyone who saw me started laughing hysterically. And to be honest, I was so taken aback, I flushed. I just couldn’t believe the response. But it made me feel good inside because it’s been quite awhile since I’ve made complete random strangers laugh (unless it’s me embarassing myself like falling off a curb while walking, which I’ve done before). And through that, it reminded how I love making people happy/feel good/laugh.

To say to treat acting/improv class not like therapy, how can I not!? I feel like I’m in a much better place than I was a year ago. And I can’t thank you all for sharing this journey with me.

Success

Happy new year to all my readers! It’s been a whirlwind of chaos (good and bad) since my last post. But to say the very least, I have made huge achievements in both the professional sphere and in my life in the last few months of 2012. In fact, I successfully passed the CPA/CA national exam and advanced to the next level in my acting classes. What a great way to end 2012!

I find a lot of people don’t take the time to really reflect on their achievements over the year . It seems as though everyone looks at the year at a high level and quickly move on with their lives for the new year. But I’m a true believer that it’s really important to give yourself some self-recognition, if not, A LOT! Of course there’s going to be some bad or embarrassing moments in your year but they definitely don’t define who you are today. Every moment has its place.

So without further ado, I’d like to highlight my successes in the year in hopes to inspire you to reflect on your own achievements:

  • Passed my CPA/CA exam at my first attempt!
  • Took on acting class for the very first time. Even though I didn’t successfully advance to the next level at first attempt, I didn’t quit. After my second attempt, I successfully advanced. And I can definitely say I love it more every time I do it.
  • Took on dance classes for the very first time this year and eventually worked my way up from the back of the class to the front of the class
  • I began this blog which allowed me to channel my creativity and spark conversations with close friends on similar stories of inspiration, hope, struggle and challenges
  • I committed to making positive changes in my life by doing things that I love to do, reinforcing positive affirmations, and maintaining and strengthening genuine relationships with loved ones

I have a gut feeling that 2013 is going to be a great year and I can’t wait to share my stories to you along the way. I have some big plans coming up so it’ll be interesting to see what will happen next. For now, I can only dream with excitement.

Dream Your Heart Out!

Game Changer

The best of friends are truly the ones that inspire you to be a better person than you already are. So I dedicate this to few of my best friends who inspired me this year to come up with an action plan, which I am so excited to share to everyone. But first, I want to acknowledge the few friends who have inspired me at this point:

Sara: I still remember the  random call I gave her back in March, after several months of disconnect, breaking down about the career path I was in. She inspired me through her own personal story as she shifted gears from the professional marketing guru that she was to now becoming a naturopath. Follow her blog here. Her fearlessness made me realize you can make changes happen at any time and no one can stop you but yourself.

Allen: To be honest, when Allen told me he wanted to start a food truck, I giggled. He graduated from university studying economics. So from there, you would think the typical path would be somewhere in the corporate world. But not for Allen. He’s on a mission to start a food truck in Toronto, by traveling to L.A. and Asia for food inspiration. He knew the corporate, white collar job was not for him. And he’s not afraid to talk about his mission to start a food truck on his website, twitter, or tumblr. Alllen’s drive and passion for food made me realize you need to love what you do – and people will love you for it too.

Bryan: Bryan is probably one of the smartest friends I know from university. He could be anything he wanted to be without even trying! After a short stint doing the office job, he just had the bug to do what he always wanted to do: teach snowboarding in Vancouver. I couldn’t be happier for him. And with that said, I wanted to try something I always wanted to do too: acting!

So what’s my game plan???

I’ve decided to accumulate all my vacation days (and some additional leave of absence days) at work to take two months off next summer to travel to LA to learn acting and find opportunities for some acting gigs. It’s always been on my mind to go back to the City of Angels since my last visit in June! To do what I love to do in the city I love would only be a dream come true. As they say:

Playing the Victim

I am back! And I didn’t want to come back without having been inspired by something to write and share to my readers.

Once again, I am fixated by a recurring theme in my acting class that resonates so much in my own twenty-something life.

I was given a monologue where my character goes on about a fun, light-hearted memory of her and her brother, as kids, playing a prank on their mother. My character jokingly tells her mother that her brother died from a bad car accident while her brother hid in the backyard. When the prank was done, her mother cried not knowing it was just a joke. My character’s innocence at the young age didn’t understand her mother’s cry until years later, when her brother ultimately passed away and was never coming back.

My initial performance of this monologue was what my instructor deemed as “playing the victim”: feeling guilt, remorse, sad, and nothing more. He said that playing the victim makes the scene “boring” because the character has given up and that there is no sense of hope. Whether the character should use her loss as a fight of frustration or hope that things get better, makes it all the more entertaining than just to “give up”.

Take Gladiator for example. In the very last fight scene, Russell Crowe’s character was stabbed right before he entered the Colliseum. Did he show a sign of loss hope in his last battle? No, he fought until he won before he fell upon his death.

Sadly, I do “play the victim” in my life on my lowest days, whether it be at work, relationships, etc. I let things get to me, and hold on to it with no sense that things will get better or accept that it’s for my own good. It’s not that I’m pesstimistic about life, I just surrender and accept that things are the way they are, and I have no control over it.

But that’s not at all true. I do have control of my life!

I know this sounds like my typical inspirational blurb, maybe moreso to reassure myself more than anything. But the truth is, two random strangers confronted me at two separate clubbing events about this in the past three months. The first person (female), intoxicated as ever can be, walked up to me and held her hands on the sides of my cheeks and said, “You are so beautiful, you should not be sad”. I didn’t even realize I had a frown on my face before she came up to me. I do admit, though that I was not having as much fun as I should because I ended up submerging myself into thoughts of loneliness even though I was accompanied by a group of friends.

The second person (male) that confronted me actually walked by me twice and stared at me. I couldn’t tell if he was drunk, but I think he was fed up with my sad face that as we passed by each other again, he said to me “You need to smile”.

And that’s when I had it – not with these people – but with myself.

I’m playing the victim where I have found myself to not think I’m worthy enough of being in a relationship, that no one would ever want to date me, and that I should give up and accept the fact that I’m going to be single for awhile.

And because of that, I think I actually push away guys from approaching me.

Playing the victim is not only boring, but it’s unattractive.

I know I am more worthy than I come off to be, but I’m still in search of defining who I am. That’s all it really comes down too.