News flash: not everyone is going to like you.
I’m a recovering people pleaser, so this is a big one for me — especially considering that as a model, pleasing clients during auditions was the way I made money for years. I literally needed people to like me, and pick me, to pay my bills.
A huge turning point for me was when I was up for a national commercial featuring Sofía Vergara that paid a life-changing amount of money. The client told my agent I was exactly what they were looking for. I went on three callbacks. I was so excited about the opportunity and exposure, in addition to the paycheck.
I didn’t get the job. I remember feeling completely devastated. It’s hard for me to even admit this, but at the time, I truly thought it was because I wasn’t good enough in some way I should have fixed. Not pretty enough, not the perfect shape or size, not young enough, or not up to snuff in my audition performance. The core message that ran through my entire body at this rejection was, I’m not good enough.
I couldn’t help but laugh with relief when I eventually saw the commercial and discovered that a petite African American woman had gotten the part. It wasn’t about me at all. The casting directors simply wanted someone who looked very different from me, which happens a lot. In hindsight, it was another reminder of that core lesson: so much that happens to us, and in our interactions with other people, isn’t about us at all.
At the time, though, it hurt. It stung. I had been going on more huge auditions than ever before, but I wasn’t booking any jobs. There must be something wrong with me, I thought. My self-esteem had plummeted without my even realizing it. I didn’t wake up to this reality until I wrote an article for mindbodygreen.com and one of their editors titled it, “I’m a model + had low self-esteem. How I found calm in a competitive industry.”
I remember getting an email from the editors that my story was live, and feeling horrified and embarrassed when I saw the title. Ouch! I really had to let it sink in for a minute: I was a model with low self-esteem. What an oxymoron. Or actually…of course I was a model with low self-esteem — all we do is get picked apart and told what’s “wrong” with us. How could we not have low self-esteem? Our entire livelihood is based on what we look like. And not just on what we look like, but on someone else’s opinion of our looks, which really has nothing to do with us at all but rather with our mom, dad, grandma, and grandpa’s genetics. And as a plus-size model, jeez, I wasn’t even fitting into society’s extra-small standard of beauty.
So, slowly, I realized the title of that article was a gift. It was like this little hall pass to own my insecurities, to talk openly about them and encourage others to own and embrace their perceived flaws and insecurities, too. We are all in this together, after all.
I had stretched out of my comfort zone of trying to appear to have it all together while striving for unattainable perfection. And it turns out my willingness to stretch this way would kick off a beautiful new journey for me — as an author, executive leadership coach, keynote speaker, and champion for living from the spirit (love) rather than ego (fear).
Which brings me back to the question of our willingness to stretch ourselves. I allowed myself to be willing to admit that my self-esteem needed a massive (inner) makeover. I was willing to speak openly and honestly about it. I was willing to discipline my emotional muscles daily because that inner critic can be mean, loud, and extra bitchy. I was willing to show up, be uncomfortable, cry, notice my depression when repressed thoughts and feelings surfaced, go to therapy, do the work, meditate, pray, ask for help — to not just give myself love but also to remember I am love and to connect deeply with a higher power.
For me, that higher power is God, and my God is unconditional love. “God” can be a loaded word for many, I know. But by it, I mean unconditional love — a tremendous source of goodness, guidance, and powerful energy that is always with and within me. The willingness to connect to that source and plug into it daily has transformed my life, and I’m so happy it can do the same for you, if you are willing.