“There’s something that happens in all of our lives—whether they’re thrust upon us or we’re making them happen—there are moments or choices that happen that you’re going down a new road that you’ll never get to go back from.” – Brit Marling, co-creator, writer, and executive producer of Netflix’s The OA.
It’s hard to let go of an old version of ourselves. We get stuck in habits and over time those habits become patterns that dictate what direction our life will go, unless we’re willing to let go of those habits and make changes.
Looking at our lives with a magnifying glass and dissecting our day-to-day interactions with friends, colleagues, boyfriends, brothers, sisters, and parents, is hard to do. We often know that if we look too closely, we’ll see something we don’t like. Then, we’re faced with a decision: do we let go of an old version of ourselves, or, do we grip on to it because it’s comfortable and what we know.
Maybe you see a behavior pattern with your relationship with your boss that you want to let go of, like maybe you’re constantly looking for recognition that you’ll never get so you’re constantly deflated?
Maybe you see a behavior pattern with your family, like maybe you’ve always been the one who has made sure that everybody else is “ok?”
Maybe you see a behavior pattern with your friends, like maybe you’re always listening but none of them take the time to listen to you?
Maybe you see patterns that you want to let go; maybe you want to let go of an old version of yourself.
Or, maybe you’re not letting go of an old version of yourself; maybe you’re letting go of the version of yourself that was never really you?
Enter “Hollywood’s Anti-It Girl,” Brit Marling. Brit was working at Goldman Sachs one summer during college, shuttling home from the office at 3 a.m., then crawling back to work in the early morning like every good Goldman intern does.
One weekend a few of her friends convinced her to enter in a 48-hour filmmaking contest for fun. After filming that weekend she was hooked and decided to drop out of college and move to Cuba for a year to film Boxers and Ballerinas. After finishing the movie her parents convinced her to finish college so she did, and graduated as valedictorian in 2005.
After writing, writing, and more writing from her apartment in Silver Lake with her two friends and creative partners, it happened. Brit was recognized as the breakout actress at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival for co-writing *and* staring in Another Earth and Sound of My Voice.
As I was reading the article I couldn’t help but wonder how Brit so effortlessly let go of an old version of herself, her investment banking self, to become who she is today.
The article mentions that theater was a constant theme in Brit’s life as a child; it was an anchor that she kept coming back to. Studying economics in college then pursuing finance was the practical and safe route, so that’s what she did. But, it sounds like she always loved theater as a child.
This is where we come in. Studies show that we all suffer a creative slump around 7-years-old. Our brains are more developed so we become better at impulse control and delaying gratification. With impulse control and the ability to delay gratification, around 7-years-old we start to repress creative thoughts and suppress imagination. So on a day-to-day basis that means that we don’t say and do things we would do as a 7-year-old; the development of our brain is like a leash that keeps us from being creative, and maybe even from being who we really are.
I found this video of Brit. If you watch it you’ll see that her investment banking self was never her “real” self. It was Brit’s representative, and now she’s back to her 7-year-old self. We all have a “representative,” and it’s not only due to technology and social media. Author Glennon Doyle Melton talks a lot about “the representative” in her new book I just finished called Love Warrior.
Back to Brit. So how did Brit find the old, real, non-representative version of herself?
Brit didn’t wait to be “chosen.” She started to write her own films so she could create the characters that she wanted in her films.
And, she nominated herself for the roles. She wrote scripts and then cast herself as the staring role. She didn’t wait to be chosen and she wasn’t afraid to let go of the investment banking version of herself, that wasn’t really her.
Each day when we wake up we make the decision if we want to nominate ourselves. We decide if we want to write our script. If we don’t write our own script, we’re waiting to be chosen.
We all temporarily become someone who we think we should become. But if we’re not afraid to navigate our way through unchartered territory for a little bit, I’d bet we all eventually migrate back to being our 7-year-old self.
What does your 7-year-old self want to be? Let me know.
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