Some wisdom from Ben Vereen

I wrote last week about how we define our own self worth.  And how many of us do that by accomplishments like grades, salaries, weight loss, but mainly our career.  And how sometimes that is not so awesome.  Sometimes that means we start defining ourselves or giving ourselves value based on something that we simply cannot control.

Feel free to read that one again, if you’d like.  But now I’d like to expand upon that idea.  That idea that if you don’t get the things you want- like the job, the promotion, the recognition, the success, the relationship or the once in a lifetime experience- it might be ok.  It might be better.

I’m not going to tell you what I think.  Instead, let me introduce you to Ben Vereen.
Some of you know Ben Vereen from his many movie roles (All That Jazz, Idlewild, Roots, among many others and many tv appearances), some from his work on Broadway (Wicked, Hair, Fosse, Jesus Christ Superstar and many others), some from the now defunct (but much beloved of my generation) PBS children’s show, Zoobilee Zoo! I had the privilege of listening to him speak back in the summer of 2006. He seemed amused at how awestruck we were with him (this was a room full of about 250 aspiring singers/dancers/actors and double and triple threat students). He noted that people who meet him are thrilled and say how good he is but, he said, “I’m currently unemployed!” and In fact he has spent quite a bit of his life unemployed other than teaching and speaking engagements like this one. For an actor, particularly a stage actor, this is fairly common (but don’t let celebrities fool you… they too go through phases like this), hence the term “day” job.

This was a revelation to me at the time, and I wish it had really sunk in then… he is AWESOME. And yet, unemployed.

Unemployed/underemployed/at a job that I don’t absolutely love does not equal not awesome.

I don’t know that there’s enough work out there for all the awesome people. Not paid anyway.

And so he encouraged us not to get discouraged when we did not get a job. When someone else got the job. When we didn’t have a job. This is what he said, and I’ll never forget it:

“If you don’t get the job… it wasn’t your job.”

And how true that is in more than just jobs. Did you have a break up? That’s ok, because they weren’t your future spouse anyway. Didn’t get picked for the team? Not your team. Not hitting that one notch of success you’ve been waiting for, maybe there’s just a better time out there where your success could be even bigger. Point being that there’s lots of stuff out there that you may want, but you don’t get, because it just doesn’t make sense to have or be everything. If you were everything or had everything then you’d be really tired, and then how could you be awesome at the job that is or will be yours? How can you fall madly and deeply in love with your future partner if you insist on obsessing over why one relationship didn’t work out? It’s freeing to realize that if you don’t get something, it’s because it’s not yours. And why would you want that? To have something that’s not yours means you either stole it (not nice) or borrowed it (still… not yours). Not near as good as the thing that belongs to you. I don’t want someone else’s husband!  I don’t want someone else’s job!  I don’t want someone else’s life!  I want my marriage, my career, and MY LIFE!

It may take time, but when you get the job, or whatever it is you’re looking for, it will be yours. And it will be better.

If you don’t get it, it’s not yours.

IF you don’t get IT, IT is not yours!

I’m repeating it for myself, because this is something I have to remember.  All day, every day.  It’s hard to let go.  But it’s freeing.  Letting go means you know that what will be, will be.  It just will.  Don’t overthink it.  Listen to John Lennon.  Let It Be.  Whatever will be, will be.

And whatever will be, will be yours! 

And it will be awesome.

Is there something you wanted, but didn’t get, because… hey, it wasn’t yours?

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