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.

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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.

More Than…

When your friends, family, or loved ones compliment you, do you shy away from them or do you thank them? Or both? Believe it or not, shying away from compliments is the worst thing you can do for your overall self-esteem and self-recognition. I’m definitely no stranger to this fact.

I was always the person who did not acknowledge compliments at all. It’s almost like a fight or flight situation when I was given compliments. When someone said I was “pretty”, I would get all awkward and nervous, and throw back a generic response, “No! YOU’RE PRETTY!” Or when someone said I was “smart”, I would give a fake smile and just say “Ohh, okay” and walk away. Because at the end of the day, I didn’t believe what they said.
It didn’t take long for me to realize why I was that way.

Growing up, my parents were very strict with high expectations of my sisters and I. Being Asian, this isn’t breaking news.

In Grade 2, our class had to sing Christmas carols in front of the entire school. It was an evening performance and my mom dressed me up to the nines. I did feel pretty and I felt confident and ready to sing my heart out. I got on stage with all my classmates, and as the red curtains unveiled, our class sang. I gave it my all. I was so proud of myself. As soon as I came to meet my mom, she said to me, “You looked so boring up there – like you didn’t sing at all” and started mocking me showing me how bored I looked on stage. I almost broke into tears. But I didn’t know any better. She was my mom. I never spoke out of line at that age – not like kids in this generation at least.

It was a cycle that never seemed to have ended since then. And it didn’t just impact me, but also my sisters.

My older sister was, and still is, very conservative in values and taste in clothes. When she got ready for prom, that was the first day I noticed how pretty she really was. So I told her: “Wow! You look so pretty!” She looked at me with these glaring eyes and said “Shut up” as if she was somewhat embarrassed by that fact. And that was that.

I can’t blame my parents for how they raised me because they were only victims of their own parents. And I realize that my self-esteem is a battle of my own and no one else.
I was inspired to write this post because I had so many limiting thoughts of myself this past week that I had enough – I was really sick of myself.

Things come into my life the funniest ways when I stop saying I’m not good enough and this week proved that:
• I used to always tell my roommate, an avid (amazing) runner, that I can’t run. Just yesterday, I ran 3K for the first time in over 10 months. Well, now I know I can. Next goal: 5K!
• I thought I performed poorly on the last two client projects I had. I didn’t think I would get recognized because of that. Turns out, my managers were satisfied with my performance and I was rewarded for my efforts. I couldn’t be any happier.
• I kept thinking I wasn’t as funny as my classmates in my improv class. Seems like, every class I enter, they think I’m hysterical. It feels so good to be able to entertain people. I just need to trust my instincts and go with it!

I am more than who I think I am. And I need to embrace who I really am. I am smart. I am funny. I am more capable of achieving anything as long as I put my heart into it.

No doubt that I am getting better in accepting compliments because it helps me reflect who I am and what I am.

And I don’t think anyone else should shy away from compliments for that same reason.

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:

Becoming An Actress

As you perhaps already know, I rarely hide my true emotions from my readers. And to say that I never thought that I wanted to become an actress at various points in my life would be a complete and utter lie.

At the age of 7, I thought I could make an awesome Sailor Venus actress if they ever made a live version of the movie.

By the age of 13, I went on a tangent and thought it would be fun to be a model. So I attempted to do some auditions but only failed as I was unable to get a single booking. (I wish I had my portfolio with me so you would laugh at my headshots as I proudly smiled with my brace face.)

And by 17, I auditioned and landed a (un-paid) role in a commercial that was dubbed in Cantonese, to which I never even actually seen on TV.

Since then, I never thought once to ever go back into acting.

Until now.

I truly thought that the idea of doing acting was a dare to try something that is so out of my own comfort zone. But I still didn’t get the concept of WHY I was doing it – especially out of all things that I could dare myself to do.

I finally found the answer on the first day of my acting class.

I had my first session this past Monday at Armstrong Acting Studios. My instructor, Laura, gave me my monologue, from the movie, The Social Network. I was playing Erica Albright, the “ex-girlfriend” of Mark Zuckerberg. It was the scene where she bluntly tells Mark that he’s an asshole for insulting her family’s name, her bra size and rating women based on their hotness. I memorized my lines off by heart, recorded my voice, and watched myself act in the mirror for two hours. I was confident. I was ready.

I walked into class and met a bunch of beautiful, and quite lovely, people from different walks of life: models, economist, stay-at-home mom, etc. All of us shared one thing in common: we were always curious about pursuing a career in acting. And as Laura put it “we’re crazy enough to do it now”.

Right off the bat, she made us perform, one-by-one, our monologues on camera in front of EVERYONE. I was nervous. I was petrified. As soon as it was my turn, I lost all my lines. I completely blanked out. I was so dissappointed in myself, that I did not hide my frustration while the camera was still recording.

Everyone around me was so supportive and encouraging me that it’s okay and that they screwed up too. But I felt like I did the worse out of the entire group. I let myself down so hard.

As the monologue performances were done, Laura gave us general pointers about how to improve but told us we need to study our performances (as they were individually recorded each on a separate dvd) and ask ourselves the following question:

  • What did you do well?
  • What did you need to improve on?
  • Would you hire yourself?
  • Did you tell a story?
  • Etc.

Throughout the rest of the class, I was absolutely bitter about my performance. I never felt so low about myself in a long time. I really felt like giving up.

But then Laura gave us one pointer that stuck to me to this day. She actually explained the WHY that I needed to hear.

She said, “In acting, the power is in the NOW. Being in the present has so much power”.

And that was my “AH-HA!” moment. I was meant to be on this path in taking acting classes because I have struggled, and still do, in living in the present moment. And if there was one thing that I learned from Louise L. Hay’s book, it was that the power of the present moment can make you absolutely unstoppable in achieving the best in life that you deserve.

I just find it so amazing that even in my acting class, itself, is teaching me about personal life lessons that ring true to me. I’m actually still in awe about it in this very moment.

So after reviewing my embarassing video of myself, I realized, I can only improve from here. It was my first day, and as long as I stay committed, I can improve.

I am truly so grateful to have such loving friends who support me through this crazy adventure. It’s insane but I love every bit of it.