CHANGE is not just for “other people”–you can do it, too.
There was an incredible program on BBC years ago called “Faking It’. Actually, it looks like it’s still around.
A person from one walk of life would be dropped into another, for a month. A male ballet dancer trained to be a professional wrestler. An upper class class college student became a bouncer at a bar in a rough section of London. An exotic dancer learned how to ride horses hunt class. A shy Indian woman became a newscaster.
For four weeks, they were immersed in a new culture, with new expectations, often the antithesis of what they knew. The student, who was gay, found himself training with coaches who hated homosexuals. I still remember the scene where one trainer’s girlfriend boxed with him–and beat the pants off him. The dancer, terrified of injuries that could derail his career, was tossed and pitched across the ring in complicated take-downs.
The show was intensely watchable. You felt for the newest candidate, totally submersed in a new culture, terrified and overwhelmed. Tempers flew as coaches demanded top performances, and many tears were shed.
But amid the tears and frustration and fear, something marvelous happened.
They all transformed themselves. Each and every one.
And came out better for it.
The shy woman, who’d never even raised her hand in school, learned how to face a camera and report the news with confidence. The gay student not only found new courage, he also transformed the people around him. They marveled at his hard work and endearing personality, became his supporters, and learned to accept his homosexuality. The exotic dancer found her athleticism and excellent balance served her well as a rider. The classical ballet dancer learned inner strength he never knew he had. .
They all learned what they were really capable of. They all developed a healthy sense of self-confidence.
The final test at the end of each show was, could they “pass” as their new personae in front of three judges. And they all won, or nearly so.
Later, the crew revisited these “students of life”, to see how permanent the experience had been.
All had changed their lives.
The dancer performed his ballet with new spirit and enthusiasm. The exotic dancer returned to her world, but with new goals. Now her money was going to put her through college, and she made time to ride regularly. She dreams of owning her own horse some day.
They were either better at what they did, or they were doing something else, something they’d never dreamed of if they hadn’t learned to believe in themselves.
I constantly hear from people asking for advice or insight about their own art careers. At some point, the person always says, “I just can’t…..(fill in the blank)”
“I just can’t sell my own work. I’m no good at it.”
“I just can’t write my own artist statement. Do you have a template I could use?”
“I just can’t do shows/make cold calls to stores/figure out what my market is….”
Yes, you can.
When someone says, “I don’t know how to do that!” or “I’m no good at that!”, I always say, “Well, we’re not born knowing how to play the piano.”
It takes practice.
It takes perseverance.
It takes courage.
And sometimes, we have to fake it til we make it.
If a young gay man can learn to walk through a homophobic culture with pride and real peace in his heart, if a young stripper can find a way to keep horses in her life forever while she earns money to go to college (the first to do so in her family), if a shy woman can learn to stand up and speak with the power of her true self, if a chubby woman whose only “sport” is walking can learn to climb a rock wall and practice Tae Kwon Do, and take up her art at age 40 with two young children…
Then you can learn how to sell your work. You can learn how to market it. You can learn how to write about it. You can learn how to find the watch spring in your soul that makes you tick, that makes you create the wonderful work you make, that makes you sing the way you do, that makes you, well…you.
Yes, you can.