Last year I shared one of the most inspiring weeks of my life in Jamaica with The RuJohn Foundation, it was transformational. So, throughout the year I kept in contact with the foundation and was on track for going this Summer. But due to budget cuts and scheduling logistics I couldn't go in the end.
I was SO disappointed, I must have sulked for a full weekend. I started to investigate those feelings, like WHY do you feel so sad about this, Shelah? After a lot of meditation and writing I came to the conclusion that I associated that trip (being linked to celebrities and luxury) with a certain marker of success.
"If you go on the trip you are successful or better off than you were last year."
Yes, it's important and valuable to be linked with people who are actively getting roles in film and on TV, yes I should network and understand the value of social status as it relates to be an actor. Yes, it's nice and important to be recognized.
But all of that has almost nothing to do with that trip. I am friends with some celebrities, I network and all that stuff already. I'm already doing that.
But the story I told myself about the trip being a marker of success was just ONE STORY. Our experience is largely made up of the stories we consistently tell ourselves. The things we choose to believe to be true for our own experience ultimately craft that very experience.
So I allowed myself to feel those feelings of rejection, disappointment and despair without judging them. They are simply information. They were letting me know that there was a gap between my desires and my beliefs about those desires.
And what do you know? That same week I got a call from a colleague in Dakar, Senegal who is associated with one of the few schools there for students with Down Syndrome. They have a special program for their higher functioning students where they develop trades and different skills like gardening, farming and sewing.
After some talk I sent a proposal to do a version my Sustainable Theater Workshop in August.
So do I still think about not going to Jamaica? Of course. But I also know that what you focus on you magnify, so I'm focusing on what a life changing experience going to Africa will be, how much these students will teach me, and how fulfilling it is to do what I love internationally.