I know that this is not the first time that you have heard the idea that the things in our lives happen for a greater purpose. Even the seemingly negative things. I know that this idea can be REALLY hard to swallow, believe me, I know. But maybe the real lesson here is to be present in the moment when something ‘bad’ happens and step back and say, ‘What can I learn from this?’ or ‘Perhaps I’m that wasn’t meant to be.’
I had a recent ton of bricks land on my head recently about this principle – and it only took 3 years to see it clearly.
The year was 2008, I had just booked a large role on the popular TV show, My Name is Earl, I was also preparing to compete at the US Nationals Championships to qualify for the Paralympics Games in Beijing, China later that year.
What a year, right?
I had to kiss Jason Lee in the episode that I was in (and YES, the mustache was REAL) and very shortly after that I came down with Mono, so I like to say that Earl gave me Mono (not CERTAIN that that is true but it makes for a better story).
I was sick for many weeks and was getting very concerned about my upcoming track meet. I wanted to attend a race before the big one just to get the nerves out, big mistake. I was still sick and I really shouldn’t have been out there. I was warming up and went to do a short sprint when I caught my toe on the track and went flying through the air, landing on my neck and face and injured my back fairly badly. I had to have stitches in my face by my left eye, I had a huge shiner, I was taking pain killers every few hours just to be able to move and I realized that I had to run at Nationals in 5 days to be selected for the US Team.
It was bad.
I was already asked to sing the National Anthem at the meet and being an actress you know that the show must go on so I attended the event with big sunglasses to cover my black eye and on enough pain killers to numb a horse. I sang then I sat in the stands and watched my 100m run by me and with it my chances of becoming a Paralympian.
Being the Eternal Optimist that I am, it wasn’t long until I was looking for the silver lining to the incredibly dark cloud that I was currently in. I said to Jay, “There is going to be something that comes up during the time that I would have been in China that I would have missed out on. There had to have been a reason that I didn’t get to go.” He smiled back at me.
Fast forward three months. I received a call from a director of a short film that I had shot earlier that year called ‘The Break Up’, and she told me that we had been selected as finalists in the NBC Short Cuts Film Festival and they wanted to fly me to NYC to attend.
Had I qualified for the US Team that year, I would have been in China.
The festival was great and I met a lot of people, including Kendra, the Director of the Diversity Program at NBC and we really hit it off. I flew home thrilled to see what was going to come of this event!
That ended up being nothing, for a while.
As an actor you have to get very good at the picking up and moving on, for better or worse. So we did. Quite sometime later Jay told me about a program that he wanted to audition for called Stand-up for Diversity, put on by NBC and run by Kendra. Interesting. I tagged along to San Diego to maybe have the chance to say hi – which was an understatement. She was so happy to see me that she had me take pictures with her staff and then asked me to stay and watch the auditions. It was a fun trip and an opportunity to reconnect.
Again we moved on with things and I didn’t run into Kendra for another year or so. NBC was hosting a showcase for diverse actors, writers and directors and I wanted to be a part of it. I reached out to her to see if they would be willing to see me for the project and she invited me to audition. After two meetings I was called and told that they wanted for me to perform in the show! I was super excited!
It ended up being a really great time working with my scene partner, writer, director and the NBC team as a whole. The show has proven to be a great opportunity for me to be seen and it wasn’t long until I was invited to meet with the Senior Casting team at NBC.
As I was sitting in the waiting room on the Universal Studios Backlot, it hit me, everything happens for a reason. If I had not been hurt and missed the film festival I would not have built the relationship with Kendra and the meeting that I was waiting to attend might not have ever happened. It took me 3 years to see the forest through the trees.
The meeting went really well and they are interested in helping me take the next steps in my career. Couldn’t be more thrilled about that!
The next time that you are experiencing something that appears to be a bad thing, perhaps it’s just the universe’s way of clearing the path for you so that you get to where you need to go. You might not understand the meaning for a long time, or ever but just knowing that can take some of the sting out of the bite.