I never, ever knew (or admitted) what I wanted to do when I “grew up.” My major in college was Undecided. (Yes, they actually had that as a major.) I would “accidentally” get into plays and musicals as a kid and took drama all through high school and college even though I opted never to try out for parts or ever take it seriously—probably because I was a big chicken, simply terrified that I wouldn’t get parts.
It was only when I found myself jobless in New York City right out of college that I finally had to really examine what I wanted to do in life. New York City has the best of the best of every profession operating there, and I had been interviewing, exploring opportunities, and gathering information in every field I had ever been interested in: fashion, publishing, film production, literary and entertainment agencies, public relations, Wall Street, and even politics. And I had also somehow bluffed my way into my first professional acting class—“for fun”—even though I don’t think I even knew what a headshot was at that point.
One day, while confiding in a friend that I was freaking out about all this research I was doing and still didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life and career, he said this to me:
“Ask yourself: if anything was possible in the world, there were no obstacles, no fear and nothing at all was impossible—it’s only you and God in the world—what would you do? Write it down. That’s really what you want to do. Then, from there, you figure out how to back into it or build up to it with small steps.”
I thought, “uh-huh, whatever.” But later, I found myself grudgingly sitting there with a pad and pen, replaying that scenario over and over…“no obstacles, anything in the world is possible, no obstacles, anything in the world is possible.” Much to my surprise, when I finally took a deep inhale and put pen to paper, I had a revelation. I witnessed myself writing “ACT.” And then slowly circled it with a huge exhale. I felt such relief! Then I slowly wrote under that “BE THE CREATIVE.” And underlined it.
It dawned on me that I had been dancing around what I really wanted to do; dancing around with all the businesses surrounding the arts and acting, because I was too scared to admit that’s what I really wanted to do. What I really wanted to do was be an actor. Be the creative. I didn’t know what I’d really do about it in the moment but man, it felt great to really admit it—even to myself! I was actually a bit in awe that acting is really what I wanted to do.
Once that sunk in (and trust me, you will know if that’s what you really want—right down to your toes), the next thing was to figure out steps of how to really go about doing that—how was I going to “build up to it” or “back into it” as my friend had explained. One of the first things I did was buy BackStage newspaper, a weekly paper primarily for actors. And I went from there—acting classes, studied the business, got headshots, went on random auditions, got an agent, got into the union, started booking jobs, etc. Within a year, I was working professionally as an actress. This path has continued to lead me over the years to other avenues in the entertainment business of producing, directing, and writing.
It hasn’t always been easy. Sometimes it’s even painful. But it’s amazing to be on what you feel is your right path. And now that I have interviewed hundreds of people about their epiphanies, I have come to believe that our hearts wouldn’t yearn for something that isn’t what we’re supposed to be doing, or that something about it won’t serve us in some way. Maybe it’s about simply taking a few steps to get there that is the purpose, but you’ll never know until you get clear and honest about what it is you truly yearn for. A wonderful teacher of mine always says, “If not now, when?” If. Not. Now. When.
“GET HONEST ABOUT WHAT YOU TRULY WANT” EPIPHANY EXERCISE
If it were just you and God /Infinite Intelligence / your higher self and there is no fear, no lack, and there are no obstacles, no commitments, no responsibilities or obligations blocking you—if ANYTHING is possible—what would you do? It can be anything, from backpacking through Europe; meeting a soulmate; climbing a mountain; becoming a farmer, an actor, a doctor, a writer, a race car driver, the mayor, the president, a scuba diver—whatever—but what is it, really? What would you do? Where would you live? Who would you be?
Think about or meditate on this question with a pen and a piece of paper in front of you and be open to being absolutely honest with yourself. It will come to you. And then, Write It Down—it’s only for you, no one else has to ever see it, you might even throw it away later—but write it down. Write down what is really, truly in your heart when you answer this question. Whatever it is may surprise you…but when you answer truthfully, it is such a relief. And then sit with it for a bit. Absorb it. And, beginning with what you truly want—start backing into it. Start by writing down the smaller, attainable steps that will build toward your ultimate goal. Take the steps. Even one baby step every week or month. It doesn’t matter. Just move. Take action. And then watch the world conspire to support you.
Like I said, you don’t have to share. But if so inclined you are more than welcome to let the world know who you are, who you’re becoming—what you really want—in the comments below.
* Please feel free to join me at en*theos academy. All of my classes are available for download.
Elise Ballard is the author of the book, Epiphany: True Stories of Sudden Insight to Inspire, Encourage, and Transform, a heartfelt journey full of amazing stories of fascinating people, from world-renowned figures, thought leaders, and performers—such as Maya Angelou, Dr. Oz, Desmond Tutu, Deepak Chopra and Barry Manilow—to former inmates, leading psychologists, teachers, homemakers, and many more. To buy the book or read more, please CLICK HERE. You can also visit Elise on her website, EpiphanyChannel.com.