A friend of mine had a ground-shaking, nuclear blow up with her husband. This fight was so bad that her immediate community rallied around her to make sure she was okay, being careful not to make her feel like we were all up in her business. Sidebar: Sometimes being all up in your friend’s business is EXACTLY what she needs, but I digress.
Over time, she assured me that things were getting back on track. She had faith, and she was strong. She and her man had even gone to therapy once to work out their issues.
Once is not enough.
This conversation is not about therapy alone. It’s about consistency. I don’t believe it’s possible to make any lasting progress in any area (i.e. faith, relationships, finances, emotional well-being) without consistency. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had friends say they went to therapy once or a couple times to work out their issues, and it only helped a little. Of course it only helped a little! It’s supposed to be a process.
Going to therapy one time for an issue you’ve had for years is like getting an x-ray for a broken arm and then walking away without any more treatment. That’s foolish and cruel to the soul.
If you have been dealing with a lot of tension in your relationship or your own issues (depression and anxiety) by yourself for years and haven’t seen major improvement, go to counseling. GET HELP. You don’t have to suffer alone for years at a time because it’s familiar. You can be happy, actually happy with yourself and in your relationship if you do the work.
When you go to therapy, you will have to talk about yourself. If you are a young black woman, this might feel crazy because we don’t like to tell people our business. But you will need to talk to someone, if you want to get better. You will feel vulnerable. You will talk about things you’ve avoided talking about for years, but that is a GOOD thing. You think you are protecting yourself by dealing with pain alone but you’re not. Isolating yourself only keeps you in that state of pain longer.
You will need to give yourself TIME to heal. I’ve been in therapy for five months, and I know folks who have been in therapy for years working on deeply rooted issues. I’m not planning on staying in therapy forever, but I’m not rushing through my process. I’m dealing with YEARS of trauma. A few months is nothing if it’s going to help me get better.
If you need to go to counseling and still haven’t taken the first step, stop putting your emotional wellness on the backburner. I deeply believe that if you commit to dealing with your own issues, the better you will be at caring for others. If you’ve gone to one or two sessions but haven’t fully healed, I urge you to keep going. You are worth that investment.
I was 8 months pregnant when I got the news that one of my acting students booked a series regular role on a tv show. I was 8 months pregnant and at my baby shower. I was supposed to be celebrating new life: my coming personal triumph of becoming a mother and her coming professional triumph of becoming a star. I wasn’t happy for either of us. I was jealous.
The Student was going to go off and launch her career, and I was stuck having a baby. I hadn’t even had a small tv role yet, and I was a part of helping someone achieve massive success. I felt stupid. I felt stuck. I felt left.
I figured out how to enjoy the baby shower, but I spent the next few months loathing the idea of pausing my non-career to take care of a baby. I wanted to act so deeply, yet my life was moving in the opposite direction. When I should have been taking it all in, I was just getting through it. Nursing. Changing diapers. Clothing him. Carrying baby bags. Yuck. I wanted to be on set.
She was living my dream, and I was playing house. I’m laughing right now at how utterly ridiculous this sounds, but this is truly how I felt. I believed a lie.
There have been a handful of times I’ve felt jealous of someone else’s success, and they all felt terrible. When I get jealous, it’s normally of another actor. It’s professional and rarely personal. It SUCKS. On the outside, I am gracious. The week of my baby shower, I’m sure I congratulated The Student because this win was a HUGE accomplishment, and in this case I was extremely proud. I just wished I could experience what she was experiencing.
So, I’ve never figured out a way to get rid of jealousy for good. I don’t have a four-step strategy for getting rid of it in the moment, but I can tell you what I learned from this experience that gives me perspective when I start to feel jealousy creeping in again.
1. My eyes were on her journey when they should have been on mine. Learning about The Student’s win made me discontent with my own career, and I focused on that discontent. I will never get those first few months of my son’s life back, no matter how hard I try. I completely missed the point of that season of my life wishing for another season. I had a miracle right in front of me and couldn’t see it. I pray I never do that again.
2. I wanted something I didn’t even work for… The hard reality is that until The Student booked her role, I didn’t even know that was a real possibility. I hadn’t been working towards that goal, and she had. She didn’t do anything wrong. She worked for what she wanted, and she got it. It’s simple. If I wanted a version of what she had, I needed to first make it a goal and then work towards it. The Student’s win wasn’t something to be jealous of. It was something to be inspired by.
3. Her win was my win. When I teach acting classes, I really give my students everything I have. Seriously. All of my tools. All of my knowledge. I’m not holding back for fear that they’ll pass me. I want them to win. In this case, it happened. And that means I’m good at what I do. When The Student got on set, she did a good job. That meant she was well-trained. I’ll drink to that!
I can honestly say I am not jealous of The Student anymore. She continues to win, and I’m extremely proud of her. Since working with her, I’ve helped groom other BEASTLY young actors with full confidence that they will win in a big way too. My motherhood journey is a story for another day, but I will say I’m mentally present for my son’s life, and I’m thoroughly enjoying being a mom.
Lastly, I’m proud of what I’m accomplishing in my own career. When another young black female actor gets a role that I’m right for, sometimes I feel it. But I’m honest with myself about it. I pray about it and ask for perspective. I remind myself that their win doesn’t take away from who I am and what I’ve accomplished. There is plenty to go around. I’m winning in my own way and in my own time, and I will not miss my life wishing I had someone else’s.
He pissed me off… The Man (my man) took me from zero to a hundred in a matter of minutes, and I didn’t know what to do. It was the beginning of my day. I had a little while before my therapy session, but I did NOT want to use my precious hour on this fight. There were other things I wanted to work on. BUT I can’t BS my mood when I arrive in my therapists’ office. I just can’t, so if I come in feeling a way… I have to at least address it. And I did NOT want to address it in therapy.
After a couple minutes of reeling, I remembered The Man and I were supposed to go to my friend’s birthday party that night. I texted her to give her a heads up, “Happy birthday love. The Man and I are going through a thing. Not in the mood to go out tonight. So sorry.” I know how selfish that sounds, but I knew I couldn’t be one hundred percent present. I would rather take her out on my own another night than fake it. Her response, “Sorry hun. Do you want to talk about it? If not, I understand.”
I have been friends with The Bestie for over a decade, and I can count on one hand how many times one of us has reached out for help. Our normal mode of operation is to drown in whatever issue we’re dealing with on our own until the bestie sniffs it out. But your girl is evolving… This time I said something within the hour. I didn’t drown in my issue first. I told her while I was still mad. I picked up the phone and called. “I feel like a jerk. It’s your birthday, and I’m not supposed to be mad.” I was laughing and crying at the same time.
She quickly moved past my introduction. She laughed at me and asked me what was going on. I described the argument I had with The Man, and she quietly listened. When I finished ranting, she told me that she and her man went through the same thing for years but in reverse. Turns out she understood The Man’s point of view because they had the same personality type! She laughed and said, “Cyrah, you do realize he’s the male version of me right?” Of course. The Man made a decision that frustrated me to my core, but The Bestie would have done the same thing. Instead of siding with me, she helped me understand what he was thinking. She also offered some advice based on how she and her man got through their similar situation. My whole vibe changed from pissed to understanding. She was right! He was just doing what he thought was best.
I didn’t have to process the issue with my therapist because my friend was there for me. I gave her a pat on the back for just being a dope person, and I gave myself a pat on the back for surrounding myself with people who really care about me. She didn’t tell me what I wanted to hear in the moment. She told me the truth. In this moment I am giving myself another pat on the back for speaking up when I was feeling hurt. I didn’t pretend to have it all together. I spoke up in a safe environment, and I got through it.
The Man and I talked things out and had a blast at The Bestie’s party. I am slowly but surely learning that I have a support system. For years I prided myself in being there for my people, but I didn’t let them in when I was struggling. That’s stupid. That’s ego. That’s weak. True strength is vulnerability. So…I’m going to share my life with my loving community, the good and the bad.
Who are the folks in your life who know you at your worst and still love you? Write down at least 3. Call them this week just to thank them for being amazing!
It was a Tuesday. I was supposed to leave for LA the coming Sunday, and I had no meetings on my schedule. I spent money on flights and an Airbnb room in Venice. I did this all on a wish and a prayer that I was going to get a manager in LA. In a matter of days, I was going to be in the city, and I didn’t have a thing scheduled. On the outside, I pretended I had everything under control, but on the inside I was spiraling.
“What were you thinking Cyrah?”
“These agents and managers aren’t responding because they don’t want you.”
“You knew you weren’t ready for LA yet!”
“You don’t have enough credits for people to take you seriously.”
How did I get here? Let’s go back four months. I took a trip to LA at the end of the summer with some industry friends. I had a meeting with an LA agent and manager. I left Atlanta feeling good about my monologues. I paid for coaching. I shopped for cuter clothes. I showed up to that meeting feeling like a star. I went into the room expecting to kill it, but I didn’t. My acting was just okay that day. No magic. My work wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t stellar. I left LA feeling confused and defeated. What happened?
Then depression… Yep, this trip sent me on a downward emotional spiral. I was sad. I was frustrated with my lack of progress. I didn’t understand why I didn’t fully show up in the room like I know I can. On top of that, I was mad that I even cared.
“Why are you down about this?”
“This is a rejection business! You know that.”
“Man up and move on with your life.”
I felt so stuck. Looking back on this experience I now realize I was too attached to the outcome of this one trip. But at the time I didn’t know how to deal. I wanted to lie to myself so badly about how I felt, but I CARED. And I was disappointed in myself.
Then therapy…. After I recognized I was depressed, I stopped giving excuses and sought out help. I went on my insurance company’s website, found a therapist that was covered and started going. THIS CHANGED EVERYTHING.
First of all, this business can take you on an emotional rollercoaster if you don’t have proper perspective and a way to process thoughts in a healthy way. I was taught to not let this business get to me. To not care. But the truth of the matter is that I’m invested. I CARE. I can pretend not to care, but I can’t lie to my soul. My insides know when something matters, so I learned in therapy to stop with the BS and align myself with what I really wanted.
I love Atlanta, and I love the business in Atlanta. But I wanted to expand and challenge myself. I wanted LA. So, I contacted my Atlanta agent and asked her how I could get ready for the LA market. She said that she thought I was ready for LA now, and the agency could start submitting me to LA managers and agents.
Pause…ready for LA now?! In my heart of hearts, I felt like I was ready, but on paper I didn’t know if people would take me seriously. My agent believed in me! And she confirmed what I knew all along, it was time to make some moves.
So, with no guarantees, I cleaned up my casting profiles, got new headshots and booked a ticket. This happened over a span of two months.
Then… less than a week out, we had no one on the calendar. One of my agents said that the market was getting very competitive, and if we didn’t get any responses to just assume they weren’t interested. My heart sunk… This was going to be a repeat of my last LA trip. Pointless. But I’d been doing some personal emotional work. This time I was much more aware of the downward emotional spiral…
Instead of waiting 3 weeks to get help, I waited 30 minutes. I called my godfather to get some perspective. I told him how I was feeling, and he helped me to look at what was happening from different angles. This was the first time in years that I didn’t try to process something alone. I was so proud of myself for asking for help!
After talking with him a little while, I took action. I wrote “You are ready for LA” on pink sticky notes and put them up all over my house and car. Everywhere I went I was reminded that this was my dream, and I wasn’t going to let fear or rejection stop me from moving forward.
I called my agent. She put in a good word for me with an agent and manager in LA. I called my industry momma, and she got me a meeting with a manager I already had a good relationship with. (She’d seen me perform before and loved me.) Within a matter of days, I had four meetings on my schedule. I went from no meetings to more than enough. The day before my flight was scheduled to leave, I had my regularly scheduled therapy session. I was reminded to not dim my light and to go get what I wanted.
One of my goals for 2019 was to get a good LA manager. I flew out Sunday morning. I had my first meeting Sunday afternoon. Within 24 hours, an LA manager offered me representation! By the end of the week, I was offered representation by two managers and an agency. LISTEN! I was on an emotional high for like 24 hours… I got exactly what I wanted and then some! This process and trip was packed with so many lessons, and I just had to share them with you.
So here are my take-aways…
1. I don’t have to be limited by the expectations of others. If I believe in my heart of hearts I’m ready to do or be something, with God’s help I can create what I want despite what it looks like on the outside.
2. Feelings aren’t reality. The truth is that I felt like the entire LA market was rejecting me just days before I was supposed to go. That wasn’t true. I just needed to connect with the people who believe in me. The truth is that sometimes I will be rejected, and that’s okay. Eventually, I will get what I want if I just work through my process. So, I need to call up my support when I’m feeling a way. Perspective is everything.
3. I have to stretch my faith! If I sat around and waited for someone to tell me that I was ready to take this step, it would have never happened. Even though my Atlanta agent believed in me, I had to initiate the conversation. All of my wins happened because I stepped outside of my comfort zone and believed for more. Note to self, “Keep doing the things that scare you.”
Okay, so now that you know what I’ve been up to the last couple of weeks, what’s up with you? What is your next scary faith project?
About me . . .
I'm Cyrah Hill. I'm a woman of faith, an actor and an everyday black girl.