By Courtney Romano
I didn’t feel bold. There I was, in pain from almost ten years of auditioning for Broadway musicals, coming oh so close to booking oh so many, and falling short every time. I was tired, doubtful, and fed up with rejection and the energy of waiting to be picked. It was 6 a.m. and I was sitting at my kitchen table in Queens, in a staring contest with a blank page of a Google doc. I finally said, enough is enough.
I started writing. It was really bad. But I kept writing. More really bad sentences. I kept writing. I got lost in my own words. My hands kept typing away. I looked up at the clock and three hours had passed. I had just written an entire chapter.
That was the very unglamorous beginning of my book. It was also the first time I gave myself permission to be exactly who I was. My very first taste of my true, inner boldness.
"It was also the first time I gave myself permission to be exactly who I was. My very first taste of my true, inner boldness."
For years I tried to be exactly what they needed. They were casting directors, creative teams, even employers at my day jobs. I didn’t try to be bold, I tried to be good. I tried to fit in and pay my dues. But the pain and delusion of fitting in led me down a path that wasn’t mine at all.
The courage to write my own story (literally and figuratively) came from my pain. It didn’t come because I was in this great place. The courage came out of and because of the pain. We tend to look at people doing bold things and think they must feel great all the time. They must wake up with sunshine and bluebirds comin’ outta everywhere. My first bold move, the radical idea that I could write a book after not majoring in English, never holding a writing job, and giving up my childhood writing habit to be a professional actor so I could speak other people’s words, came out of sadness. It came out of the chasm between who I was and who I wanted to be.
"We tend to look at people doing bold things and think they must feel great all the time. They must wake up with sunshine and bluebirds comin’ outta everywhere."
Those first words were terrible. Really poor. Not even sure I punctuated. But they were down on the page. I owned my story. Taking ownership of it empowered me. Recognizing my pain and then owning all the good and bad parts of that pain, dissolved it. And then, the sky was the limit. Everything shifted. I went all in.
Boldness is our true nature. Being bold is not something we have to learn how to do, it’s in each and every one one of us. Owning your boldness, living from a place of confidence and brightness and clarity is about clearing away that which dims your already brilliant shine.
"Boldness is our true nature. Being bold is not something we have to learn how to do, it’s in each and every one one of us."
If you’re wondering what the four easy steps are to being bold, I couldn’t tell ya. There’s no simple formula and there’s no quick fix. There is only a commitment to your messiness, to your intuition, and to your absolute power to own your story. Your boldness already lives in you, but make these four commitments and things will shift. Fast.
1. Start before you’re ready. No one knows what they’re doing. The people “leading the way” are making it up as much as you are. So dive in and figure it out as you go. Here’s how: Make a list of things you haven’t done but have been secretly wondering about. It could be anything, from starting your own blog to rolling sushi to tennis lessons. In the next week, do the smallest one. Pick a new item off your list every week for six weeks. Build the muscle of starting, not the muscle of perfection.
2. Own your story, including your pain. So many times we’re trying to hide our imperfections and cover up our mistakes. But our imperfections and mistakes are how others can relate to us the best. Your story is your power. So own it, here’s how: Create your timeline. Write down every event that got you to where you are today. Everything from what you majored in to what job you didn’t take. What pain points come up? What did you learn from them? Why are you grateful for those moments? That’s your boldest, most powerful story.
3. Take nothing personally. It’s easy to get caught in the mindtrap that the world is out to get us. Boldness doesn’t preclude rejection. In fact, it might invite more of it. But, your boldness doesn’t depend on others’ opinions, it depends on your strength of spirit. Here’s a good practice for that: Imagine the pain of your perceived antagonist. People react from their pain and they protect themselves because of it. So when you’re up against a person who’s rejecting you or bringing you down, see their pain. Understand they might not even see their pain. Bring compassion to the situation and imagine what it would feel like to be them.
4. Give back. The surest way to live a bold life is to be in service of others. Why? Research shows that our brains are hardwired to serve. It’s our nature to give. And when you help others and lift them up, it’s mighty hypocritical to not do the same thing for yourself. Being of service can be easy, start here: Do one thing a day that lets someone know you see them. Feeling seen is rare. Look someone in the eye every day and give ‘em a smile, give a friend a hug who seems like they need it. It may seem ridiculously simple, and that’s because it is. Transforming your life isn’t about an overhaul, it’s about a commitment to this moment. And this moment. And this one.
There is a boldness living in you already. There is power in your story. Decide that enough is enough, and own every part of yourself. And then show us what ya got. The world needs what you have to give.
Courtney Romano is a writer, actor and creative mentor who believes authentic, bold creativity has the power to heal the world. She is a Barrymore-Award nominee with performances ranging from Off-Broadway to commercials. Her writing can be seen in Backstage, Writer’s Edit, Verily Mag and others, and her book, The First Ten Years: A Philosophical and Practical Guide to Creative Longevity, was published last fall. In addition to her role as a marketing strategist for Distinct, an app that connects and empowers creatives, Courtney has her own creative mentoring services where she guides artists and creatives toward fuller, more profitable careers. When she’s not making things or supporting other people making things, she’s hanging out with her husband and cat in Queens. Thinking about making things.