I think the secret to understanding me is to know that I am All Talk. I talk a lot. I talk about my opinions. I talk about my feelings. (A lot.) I talk about my plans. I love to make plans. I mean I have so many of them. I just have a problem executing the plans.
Execution has become such a difficult personal obstacle course that I have stopped believing I will ever complete any plan I dream up. To be fair, I am sometimes successful at starting them. And to be generous, I’ve been known to make it three‑quarters of the way through. But never have I ever brought any of them across that elusive finish line.
Unless you count the time in 2003 when I packed up my few belongings and my 3-year old daughter and moved from Salt Lake City to New York City to be a model. Or the time in 2008 when I packed up my few belongings, my 8-year old daughter and my 2-year old son and moved from New York City to Los Angeles to be an actor. But I’m not talking about those times.
I’m talking about this time. And this time I’m in a bit of a pickle because I accidentally started this plan by giving notice to my landlord that I will be moving out on September 26, 2020 to travel around the United States for a year to explore several cities before embarking on a year‑long sabbatical abroad. As of this writing, that is exactly 43 days away. Well, really, 42 since it’s already past 10:00 p.m.
See, I gave notice directly after a personal coaching session. Take it from me, this is dangerous. Pause. Just pause after a session with your amazing, inspiring, awesome coach. Because, after that session, when I was riding on some kind of dopamine, feel-good, confident, you-can-do-this high, I listened to that voice in my head that was saying, “No, no, but seriously, this time we’re really gonna do it.”
I believed that voice. And now, I need to dig through and sort 40 years’ worth of life and possessions and then sell, donate or pack up and store all of it within the next 42 days. So, of course what I’m currently doing is binge watching the second season of Glow Up on Netflix. What better way is there to avoid achieving my dream than watching others realize theirs? (Side note, it’s great. Highly recommend.)
So, here I am chewing my nails down to nothing (a habit I haven’t indulged in since at least 2001) in my I-never-did-get-good-lighting living room, sitting on the couch I meant to have posted for sale today on Facebook Marketplace, and I am overcome with The Fear. I think, Oh God, did I just do it again? Did I just make another Grand Plan that is going to end up in the graveyard?! I already told everyone about it. I even announced it on Instagram AND Facebook. Why do I always do this?!?
See, not counting the two fully executed and admittedly awesome Grand Plans above, I’ve made a lot of plans in the last 12 years that never saw the light of day.
There was my plan to write, star in and co-direct a short film that was an expression of my complicated experiences and relationship to the #metoo movement. I got the script about two‑thirds finished before I puttered out on that one. Then, there was my plan to hire an all‑female cast and crew to get Last Summer at Bluefish Cove, one of my favorite plays, on stage in Los Angeles. That was a good one. I even got the rights! But while in talks with potential producers and directors, I got hired on another play and I let it fizzle out. And then there was my plan to write a memoir reflecting on my complicated feelings about and relationship to motherhood. Admittedly, that one isn’t quite dead in the water yet, but the longer I don’t write it, the more I’m starting to think I’ll never finish it.
In every one of the above examples (and these are just three of many), I was overcome with The Fear. I didn’t have to call my therapist (or my coach) to know that The Fear was stopping me from doing what I really wanted to do. I trembled at the thought of sharing my #metoo story: the rawness and complexities of my experiences and the maybe-controversial point of view: I feared it would lead to backlash. My fear of asking other women for help in producing Last Summer at Bluefish Cove completely immobilized me. The thought of being rejected makes me want to crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head, go to sleep, and never wake up. This is probably why I’m a wildly successful actress.
And right now, I am filled with dread daily at the thought of sharing my story, my thoughts, my experience of motherhood with the world. Not to mention the abject terror at having to look closely at not only my own experience as a mother, but my experience as a child being mothered (or lack thereof, as it were). Even more, I am terrified that I will cause my children harm in telling my story.
I read somewhere that to overcome your fears, the first step is to become aware and to understand what the fear is. Awesome. I’m good at this game:
I am aware that I am afraid because I won’t even look in the direction of the hand written and ever-growing to-do list that needs to be completed in order for me to be ready to hop on a plane and embark on this adventure I so desperately want. I also see that I am afraid because I’m spending a lot of time online window shopping, rationalizing a need for a new “adventure wardrobe,” which has on three occasions turned into actual purchases. Oops. Make that four.
And I understand that I am scared because no one does this. I mean, who decides to get rid of everything at the age of 40 and set off on a nomadic life-adventure in the middle of a pandemic?? If this isn’t the definition of a mid-life crisis, I don’t know what is. In fact, I’m starting to qualify when I tell people about my plans: “I’m aware I’m having a midlife crisis and the actions I’m taking are a clear symptom of that.”
But here’s the truth: whenever I think of my plan to wipe the slate clean and go wherever my heart pulls me, I am filled overwhelmingly with excitement, hopefulness, and possibility. I mean I didn’t even think it was possible to feel those feelings past the age of 30.
I think what I’m actually afraid of is that in the 12 years that I’ve been in Los Angeles, I haven’t followed through on any of my Grand Plans. As a result, I lack confidence and trust in myself because each time Inspiration paid me a visit, I let The Fear ultimately dictate what I did with it. I let fear of what could go wrong, fear of what others would think and say, fear of rejection and, really, the possibility that I might fail stop me from bringing any of my Grand Plans to life. And now, in the middle of a global pandemic where I have been forced to slow down and take stock of my life, I’ve been sitting with the thought, Oh God, am I failure?
Maybe that’s what is propelling me. Maybe this is my silver lining in what is arguably the worst year of my life. Because I’m doing it. In fact, I did it. I completed a Grand Plan. I sold and donated everything I owned, with the exception of six boxes that are sitting in a storage unit in North Hollywood right now. And on September 26, 2020, I got on that plane and I flew to my first destination: Tacoma, Washington.
Do you think I should tell my bosses?