Dear Mom, I Heart Peer Pressure ~ 177
Flashbacks of brightly-colored public service announcements, Hallmark-like after school specials, middle school health class lectures, and visiting high school students to preach the dangers of drugs to our elementary schools flooded back one Sunday during the first phone conversation I’d initiated with my mother in weeks. Between several voiced concerns about nudity in tableau vivant, she warned of the dangers of drugs, potentially for the first time, at least in my memory. I can only assume this lecture of concerns around thirty years in the making signaled an overabundance of party photos on my Facebook page. Who knew social media geeks (myself included) could worry a mother so? Didn’t she reach her early twenties in the late sixties, after all?
Admittedly, I’ve found myself more regularly in the company of folks who attend Burning Man (via social media friends, not tableau). While I may have learned my low tolerance for alcohol the hard way on rare occasion, their free, happy, and non-judgmental attitudes encourage me to embrace the most positive version of myself that I daily seek to find. Furthermore, although I do have close friends who have done LSD, Coke, or Ecstasy, I personally haven’t ever seen anyone doing hard drugs, nor has anyone ever offered me any. Aside from the obvious fact that I love life and don’t need hard drugs to “enhance”/ruin it, I really truly couldn’t afford to buy illicit substances once, no less support an addiction.
No, fortunately for me and my sometimes worrisome yet loving mother, I happily benefit from the very best forms of possible peer pressure. Financially, many of my close friends and colleagues suffer with me in a painful recession in the arts. With varying degrees of difficulties among us, several can’t even use credit and struggle to eat while still burdened by debt. We cook for each other, recommend each other for gigs, help find work for each other whenever possible, and brainstorm together to find ways to survive well in the city and keep performing. One of the most supportive groups of people I know, the artist community in NYC really knows how to stick together and encourage other artists to work hard and spend less. Even strangers I’ve met here, through social media and Internet Week NY last year have helped me out with financial motivation. Having met some amazing folks from Mint.com at the after party for the Webby Awards, the best suggestion planted itself and germinated until today, when I finally bit the bullet and created an account at Mint. What a great site and company… The services people offer together to help motivate the world truly astound me.
In a few short weeks, my good friends Amy Armstrong and Maren Montalbano travel to the city to attend a free seminar bymarketing/career coach Dallas Travers. We’ve formed an accountability and brainstorming team of writers, singers, and actors (each of us does all three) to keep one another on task, focused on furthering our futures as performers, and persistently putting ourselves forward in auditions and contacts with companies, regardless of success or rejection. We call it “The Diva is in the Details,” and I hope we keep it and ourselves forging ahead for a long and productive time ahead.
Although not convinced my mother believes this a positive or productive influence, I likely never would have gone skydiving without my sister having tackled if first or without the insistence of my dear friend Sarah Giardina, and it changed my life. While I have diligently moved forward on my own toward finding challenges to enhance my life, writing here gives me an instant source of peer pressure, knowing that anywhere from one to hundreds of people per post daily check in to see if I remain on track. Something as common as my recurring television addiction can derail me for a long time. Then, I go on a few dates with someone who reads a great deal and rarely watches television, or I witness first hand the productivity and excellent work ethics of my friends who don’t have a TV set, and I pledge once more to forgo repeats of mind-numbing sitcoms for practicing, working, marketing, networking, exercising, or doing necessary paperwork (in other words, actually living). I head to Planet Fitness as we speak, following a morning job and breakfast with a good friend…
Serendipitously, I ran into a great friend and colleague I hadn’t seen in almost a year while working out today. He told me all about his new successes as an extra and featured performer on Boardwalk Empire and Gossip Girl, sharing with me his passion for diversifying life as a singer and actor. Recommending his casting agency, he further went on to tell of recent solo concerts he gave in China, and we chatted for nearly an hour about possibilities of working in Europe and ways to work well at the trades we love so much. Don’t get me wrong. Some singers in the city do not play as nicely, especially in the audition halls like NOLA Studios, where “old friends” trade recent credits and upcoming gigs like status symbols to make themselves seem bigger and more successful than the competition, aka their friends. Not mine.
My friends root for one another, keep each other motivated, and attend each other’s concerts wherever and whenever possible. We recommend each other for gigs, remind our friends and colleagues when their behavior has gone a bit astray, and alert them when gossip has turned to focus upon them in a negative way. Finding ways to party, relax, and have a good time together, the very best friends I could imagine keep me happy, healed, and having the time of my life while enjoying a great career that, though difficult to maintain, offers the best rewards I can imagine. You’re right, Mom. I have a lot of peer pressure living here in the city, and I enjoy a better existence because of it every day.
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