Image by Frances Brennand Roper

Counting someone else’s chickens will only get you in a scramble…

by Frances Brennand Roper

Hollywood, or more specifically the people of Hollywood, never cease to amaze me. We all want to be a part of the same business and yet we compete incessantly; even with our ‘friends.’ Elbowing, shoving, disparaging, hell… Even sabotaging others to get our own voices heard.

I was recently laying outside next to my pool in West Hollywood trying to read a script — so L.A. — when I kept being distracted by a conversation that was loudly being had behind me. I continued to try and read, however, said script was pretty boring and their conversation seemed infinitely more tantalizing.

The topic was pretty usual for Hollywood: who are you repped by? What have you been in? What’s your IMDb star meter? 89,065 but who’s counting?! I digress. It wasn’t so much the conversation that was interesting, rather it was what lay underneath; that dripping insecurity. Oozing out of every pore, like when you drink a gallon of tequila and don’t shower – you can smell the desperation… Or is it perspiration? Either way, it’s pretty toxic.

Listen, we all know that this business is fucking hard. It takes courage, commitment, fearlessness, a 9 inch thick skin… Get your mind out of the gutter. And somewhere in there, a bit of talent. But what happened to encouragement, compassion and genuine support for someone else’s success? Here’s hoping yours is just round the corner, right?

In the recent documentary Seduced and Abandoned, Ryan Gosling explained that, “Hollywood is filled with all of these Don Quixote like characters. Everyone’s left their families. Their homes; their friends; their jobs; to pursue a dream where they know that the percentage of them achieving that dream is never, and they do it anyway. And everyone has shared the same dream. And no one is sure if it was a premonition or a delusion. And there’s only one way to find out.”

He’s right. It can seem like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and not knowing if you’re going to reach the top or get altitude sickness. So why do we make it harder on ourselves by comparing our own journey with other people’s? And why do we allow ourselves to become bitchy about it in the process? “I auditioned for that role, It just wasn’t very me,” or “You won the Nicholl Fellowship, I’m gonna apply next year.” I mean, where do we get off talking to each other in this way?

We torture ourselves with these endless comparisons. The people around us, the stars that inspire us, the ex-best friend who became famous before we did. “I’m like, so much more talented though…” Wow!

This delusional narrative of success means happiness isn’t getting us anywhere and yet, it’s everywhere you go. An unequivocal need to impress, seeping through every bar, restaurant, club, and gym… Nowhere is safe!!

I want to share a fable with you. It helps me get through those days when I feel like throwing in the towel… No, seriously, I mean literally into the pool:

“A poor man in a run-down shack lived next door to a rich man in a lovely mansion. Everyday the poor man looked into his rich neighbor’s mansion counting all the fine pieces of furniture, the pots full of delicious food in the kitchen and all the works of art that made the place look wondrous. But most of all, he counted the money. His neighbor had great heaps and heaps of gold. The poor man counted every coin he could see, he began at sunrise and wouldn’t stop until midnight. But when the next morning came no matter how high the poor man had counted, the gold still did not belong to him. He wasn’t any richer.”

If you count someone else’s chickens, money or success, you are not giving yourself a chance to become their peer – merely their lesser.

I learnt this not so long ago in a particularly brutal way; that everyone’s journey is and will be different. That’s what makes us unique. I reckon we need to be more like Matthew McConaughey and chase ourselves, because only we can make ourselves better!

I truly believe that if we just focus on what we want and how we are going to achieve it, the little steps we take today will lead to the great successes of tomorrow. Being genuinely kind to those around us because we never know what they are struggling with. Or in Hollywood terms, who they might become.

Frances Brennand Roper

About Frances Brennand Roper

Frances Brennand Roper is an actress, writer, singer and film producer. Originally from Guernsey in the Channel Islands, she now happily lives in Los Angeles and is consistently working on new features with her production company Genre House Films. Follow Frances on twitter @brennandroper

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