Surprising Yourself

Hi, my name is Ashley, and I love validation. Let’s not front, almost all of us vie for validation in some manner, and it’s totally fascinating, but I am also totally trying to wean myself off it.

There are nerdy boys vying for validation from prom queens, interns in cheap suits vying for validation from men in expensive ones, writers vying for validation with book deals and Facebook fans.

Show me the actor whom is 100% in it for the art of acting. You can’t because he is doing community theatre in Portland, Maine. And heck, even he has a back-pocketed dream of being on Broadway.

Right now he chants “just the chorus! just the chorus!” but only because he is too afraid of feeling crushed when he doesn’t get the starring role. We back pocket dreams because being an adult kind of sucks, paying rent sucks, working sucks, but making the jump away from that suckage is terrifying. This post may not apply to trust-fund types.

This is vain, but I will admit it. I think I write and do improv because I want to be brilliant at something — and be recognized for it. As my celebrity dream father Steve Martin once said, I want to be so good at something that I can’t be ignored. I think it comes from my deep-seeded fear of being perceived as boring.  To me, brilliance seems like the antecedent to an interesting life. I know it’s very celebrity dream crazy uncle Bill Murray of me, but I want to see what brilliance unlocks once I achieve it.

I think I am only willing to admit these things publicly because I work so hard at bettering myself. I do comedy four+ nights a week, I study it another 1-2 and I try to write one short story a week all while holding down a full time job. I imagine it’s a similar workload to being a mother, but replace a husband and children with comedy. As celebrity dream awkward neighbor Will Ferrell said, it takes 10 years to make it overnight. If there is one thing my celebrity dream crew has in common it’s hard work and cultivated talent. Full disclosure: celebrity dream older sister is Kristen Wiig and celebrity dream dog is Yoda.

The point of this post being, I made it to callback auditions for house teams at iO last week, and that’s a huge deal for me because I haven’t been on my journey for that long. I felt like I killed it in my first audition, but I still really wanted to know what everyone in the room thought about it, which is kind of gross, but comedy is so hard so any good feedback can keep your fire going for awhile. I did just OK in my callback, but in my first audition, I was so good I don’t think they could ignore me.

Isn’t it weird that it’s so hard to admit that you were good at something?

So my comedy debut to the overlords of iO went well, and it feels so good to have a small victory every once in awhile. Now back to the comedy grind, come see my team, Spaceman’s Promise, tonight at The Middle Theatre in Hollywood at 10pm!


63 thoughts on “Surprising Yourself

  1. brennagee says:

    I have a wish to be extraordinary – for similar reasons. I agree it takes consistent work. It also takes courage to stand out. It is difficult to say we are good at something but if we do it honestly and judiciously it can open doors. I’m cheering for you.

  2. Sheila Morris says:

    Good for you, Kiddo! Congrats – celebrate every victory – no matter how small or how grand…keep chasin’ those neon rainbows! The Red Man salutes you with paw snaps and twirls!!

  3. Geoff says:

    If you don’t get out of bed each morning striving to be brilliant at something, then why even bother getting out of bed? No one ever said, “today I want to be average” but that’s what happens because they are too afraid to take the chances you are taking. I absolutely loved this piece on multiple levels and am very much so looking forward to more to come in the future.

  4. gmariclay77 says:

    We have been told that it is pretentious to brag on what we are good at. I mean you know when you write something great but we all need validation somehow. I write poetry and now lyrics for songs…. I know when it’s good but crave validation. Writing is subjective so you never know if other’s will like it or not! Some very wise person once told me that you have to have thick skin to make it…. and to write for yourself and if other’s don’t like it then ‘F’ them…. I still have a problem with thinking like that….. but maybe I should try…….;)

    1. ashleyjillian says:

      The thing that bothers me about thick skin, is that there is this girl out here who has done improv for like 9 years and she isn’t very good. At this point, someone needs to be straightforward with her that it isn’t necessarily her thing. I’m just worried of being like that at something.

  5. Eric says:

    Every artist must have a certain amount of ego and pride. The challenge is not letting that impede your gift, but enhance it. It is the force of the stream that can propel you where you have never been before or it can dash you against the rocks. When you rise beyond that you will do your best. Oh, yes, one more thing: “There is no try…Do! Or do not!” —-Yoda Dog

  6. onecoolgriff says:

    You already have a ton of fans, Ashley! You just keep keepin’ on, girl. We are a lot alike, us two. We have brains and talent. We are both pretty hilarious when we want to be. And my word, but we’re goodlooking, too!
    In their song, “All Star”, Smashmouth says,”…my worlds’ on fire, how ’bout yours? That’s the way I like it, and I’ll never get bored.”
    Sounds like you- Congrats on suprising yourself- go give ’em more than they ever expected.

    Would The MIddle Theatre allow dogs??

  7. Drew says:

    I just want to be remembered for having done something that meant something to someone. I talk and rave about these old videogames and movies from the 90s all the time, and someday I’d like someone to feel the same way about something I was a part of.

  8. liz blackmore says:

    Way to go Ashley! Inch by inch – remember that song the inchworm?? You can do it. You will do it! Thank you for beiing so honest with what you share. You are in a tough, competitve line of work.

  9. disperser says:

    Steve Martin? Really?

    Hmmm . . . I think my celebrity fantasy father would be . . . Richard Feynman!

    No, wait!! Isaac Aimov!!

    But, for comedy? Yeah, Steve is a favorite. Do you play the Banjo?

  10. Louisa's Writer says:

    If you are only yourself when validated by others, imagine how crushing it would be if you suffered from a crippling stage fright? It is this emotion that drives many of us past that threshold to find out who we are. Break a leg

  11. Joel says:

    I know what you mean about feeling weird about saying out loud that you’re good at something. I guess any kind of artist is getting validation constantly, but if it’s coming from a live audience, it has to be a little like a high wire act. I’m looking forward to hearing more from you.

  12. Misty Morning Prints says:

    Soooo… I think you’re hilarious, which means you’re on your way, right? Very happy I clicked on your blog tonight – I definitely needed the pick-me-up. Congrats on getting a callback – I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you! And now I’m hoping that’s not an unfortunate theatre superstition that I stumbled upon 🙂

  13. Lyn says:

    We should all of us be involved in affirmation. Every child, every teen, every adult could benefit from a kind word or three and a round of applause now and then. There’s nothing worse than feeling as though you’re invisible and that no one notices anything you do. I think sometimes mother’s especially feel this way. You’re quite right though when you say, “Isn’t it weird that it’s so hard to admit that you were good at something?”

  14. katmwehr says:

    I love your web design here, it’s brilliant. And I found this post very easy to relate to. I think as children of the information age, we’re more dependent on validation from everyone – teachers, parents, friends, coworkers, even spouses. Who doesn’t like to be told that they’ve done a good job, whether it’s in the office or in bed? 🙂 Happy blogging!

  15. pishnguyen says:

    That is fantastic!! It is hard to seek affirmation — something we all want so badly and fear not getting, which hurts too much. I really enjoyed this post, and I hope everything turns out well for you with the audition and call-back.

  16. josefkul says:

    Great post! I agree, anyone who says they do things purely for the love of it with no desire for affirmation is either lying to themselves or everyone else around them. Good luck on your audition.

  17. littlejenmo says:

    I love that you called Steve Martin your celebrity dream father! Have you read any of his books? He’s just as funny on paper. Check out “The Pleasure of My Company” and “Pure Drivel” for a great belly laugh.

  18. zeze57 says:

    “Isn’t it weird that it’s so hard to admit that you were good at something?”

    in a way it isn’t. To be good at something always means that you are better in it compared with others (nobody says i am good in breathtaking or in taking a shower because we assume — when in a good condition — we all do it in a comparable way).
    So to become good in something there has to be the recognition by others that we do that thing better in some ways (whatever that may mean !). So it feels weird to say this about ourselves , because we feel it has no meaning without that recognition.

    What is more important in my eyes is what already has been said by Southern Sea Muse.
    As i wrote on my blog in an answer this week

    we tend to believe the experiences in our life
    lie in the outerworld outside ourselves.
    I think the best experiences hide inside ourselves, wherever we are …

    Trust yourself , discover yourself and find satisfaction within yourself. Good luck !

  19. sarahwriteshere2010 says:

    Thank you for quoting Steve Martin. When I tell people about him, that I think he’s an asshole because he directed, starred in and wrote one of my favourite movies along with my favourite novels, I get strange looks. Nobody has any business being THAT talented.

    I bet he hangs out with Louis Sachar sometimes and then they talk about how Louis wrote Sideways Stories From Wayside School in Law School, and how difficult it is being so gifted.

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