Hate is a pretty strong word but necessary all the same. It’s how your family feels about what you do. They don’t understand you, your choices, or your goals.
Sure, they like certain actors in films and TV shows. It’s safe to say they probably like some of your peers in commercials, too. I mean, who doesn’t like Flo? It’s just you they hate. Or so you think.
For me, it’s the distinct lack of interaction about my career. My mom and my older brother may ask about auditions and acting roles but no one else seems interested. They don’t comment on my Facebook posts about acting. I get no “break a leg” or “good luck” messages from them. As far as I’m concerned, they simply don’t care.
It’s harder to address this kind of feeling when the family is scattered across the country and in several states. Individual phone calls or a group email seems less desirable than a direct approach in person. Perhaps that’s what led to what happened when we were gathered together in North Carolina during the holidays.
After an evening out to dinner and a Hurricanes-Canadiens hockey game on my birthday (December 29), I felt compelled to openly share my frustrations with everyone. I kept the focus on my feelings and avoided accusations. I talked about how 2014 was a real struggle. I mentioned the disconnection I felt with all of them. I repeatedly said they didn’t understand what was truly going on. I suppose I wanted to get that off my chest and see what happened next. And boy, did I start something!
An impromptu Come to Jesus Meeting with my family was quickly underway. You can’t find a better time for a Come to Jesus Meeting than your birthday, I think. The focus is suddenly all on you.
I didn’t blow out any candles that day. Instead, I saw my name on the Jumbotron at PNC Arena and got a reality check from my family. They don’t really hate me. In fact, they love me. They want me to get my life in order. They are rooting for me to succeed.
The trouble is, they don’t know me because I haven’t been authentic with them. I haven’t shared what I am truly about and where I want to go in my career and my life. I haven’t made everything clear to them so there’s been no entry point for them to communicate a message of support. It took walking up in front of everyone there on the night of my birthday and feeling that nakedness, that vulnerability, to get a genuine reaction from them.
My older brother told me afterward the conversation “needed to happen.” My brother-in-law who kindly handed me a glass of whiskey in the midst of the whole thing said something similar. One of my sisters offered me a notepad to write my goals down in the coming days there. It became the most memorable part of my birthday. Of any birthday I have experienced as an adult.
How many holiday movies have you seen where someone returns to his or her family and has something similar happen when they choose to be authentic? Probably a lot. That moment of walking up and opening my mouth, unsure of what would come out, felt like a movie moment. I didn’t know what would happen next. I knew the earth wouldn’t swallow me up for being honest but the rest was out of my hands. I dove in head-first.
Now back to my usual life yet it doesn’t feel so usual anymore. I feel stronger. More hopeful. More loved. These things were always within reach. I just had to create the opportunity to make them visible to me.
What challenges do you face in getting your family to support your passion? How have you tried to overcome the obstacles? Has an effort to make your thoughts, feelings and goals more transparent worked for you? Feel free to share your thoughts below.