DIARY

I Lied

On set in St. Louis, Spring 2016

My life, when I was an actor, was not a happy place to be. I’m sure (or I think) there are plenty of happy, well-adjusted actors out there…but for me? My acting career and my unhappiness were tied up together in a big, aching knot.

Because life as an actor is a neverending emotional rollercoaster: you go way, way, way up, putting in enormous amounts of time and energy and hope and faith, grabbing at whatever tiny sparks of positive reinforcement enter your orbit…and then all of a sudden – in an instant – it ends with “no” (no, you’re not good enough; no, you’re not pretty enough; no, you’re not connected enough; you’re just not enough). So you come down fast, and hard.

Then you do this over. And over. And over.

I know with utter certainty that this is unhealthy – or at least I am certain it is unhealthy for me. The industry, when I was in it, made me feel powerless; useless; desperate. It makes me cringe to remember how I looked to casting directors for permission to grow something resembling self-esteem; how whether I felt like a “success” or a “failure” was based on whether someone let me be in their shitty sitcom. I think back on this, and it makes me sad for the girl I was – but let’s please not pretend that she and I aren’t one and the same.

I am happy I’m not in the entertainment industry anymore. I am comfortable with my choices, and thrilled that I no longer have to beg total strangers to please, please, just let me work. I still love being on camera (as myself), and I think it’s something I’m good at, but it’s not my focus: being “on TV” – like real TV – hasn’t been the direction I’ve been steering my life in for years and years, both because I want off the rollercoaster…and because I’m not especially interested in pegging my entire sense of self-worth on things that are entirely beyond my control.

jordan reid on set

Fact: It is impossible to be hired to star in a television show – not to mention being given input into creative direction and content and having the show be something you believe in and love. It is triple-impossible to have this show actually end up going to air.

The chances of the phone call I answered one day in my car (reluctantly, because my children were yelling about Happy Meals from the backseat) from a producer who’d seen me on YouTube and wanted me to audition to host his new show turning into a two year odyssey during which I got to travel the country doing things I’d only ever dreamed I’d be able to do, and then see all that work turn into a show that was actually going to be seen by hundreds of thousands of people were zero. And so when all this actually did happen, I forgot everything I’d learned and did myself the grand disservice of letting my emotions creep back in, because my total and complete certainty that it was happening had eliminated any chance of being crushed by failure.

And then I got crushed. Again.

So when I said that I was okay after the show I’d planned my family’s entire life around fizzled out (as projects in a capricious and occasionally sadistic industry tend to do)?

I lied.

I guess I thought if I said “I don’t care” out loud, that would make it true.

So here’s the truth: I was – am – embarrassed. Embarrassed that I let myself get excited, and then even more embarrassed that I let myself get crushed. Mostly I’m embarrassed because I know better, and now not only do I feel like a fool, but like a flake, too.

I don’t like to say I’m doing something, and then not do it. I hate that. For me to announce that the show was a go; to start putting into place childcare arrangements and opening up frequent flier accounts and setting the wheels of my life in motion in this very bizarre – and, yes, exciting – direction…and then to all of a sudden say to everyone (including myself), “Whoops! Spoke too soon!,” it’s…embarrassing.

And to be clear: it’s not that the show is DOA. But call it a gut feeling, or whatever – I strongly suspect that this chapter is moving into my past.

That’s okay. I love the career and the life I’ve built. But still: for nearly two decades of my existence, there was a thing that I wanted more than anything else, and that was to be hired to be on a TV show. Getting the chance to do just that, in a way, felt like I was rewriting the story of the girl I used to be; giving her tale a different – and far less humiliating – ending. To take that 25-year-old girl – the one who was so, so sad – and make her happy, just for a minute…it would have been lovely. That’s all.

  • Baerin414

    I feel like being human (putting ourselves out there knowing that we can get hurt and doing it anyway) is the bravest thing we can do. Admitting that you’re crushed, admitting that you have real, reasonable, expectations and experience real, reasonable let-down is what makes you courageous. Being honest and open about the things that hurt us the most is good for humanity, inspires people, and takes an intense amount of self-assuredness (moreso than any starring role in any anything ever).

    The strongest people I know are the ones willing to show up, do the work, believe in something, and admit that it hurts when they end up face down in the arena (relatedly, have you read “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown? Life-changing stuff. And that’s not just the therapist in me talking).

    Anyway, hang in there. I’ve put myself out there so many times and have explained and excused and embarrassingly recounted how it’s gone wrong for friends and family (i.e. I’ve switched jobs and careers more times than I can count on two hands). But what I realize(d) is that this doesn’t make me any more or less of a “mess” than the friends that stay at a stable job with good pay and health insurance despite their gut feeling that it’s wrong. We’re all trying to figure it out, some of us* are just willing to do it with more reckless abandon than others. 🙂

    *my favorite kind of people

    • Jenn J.

      I second everything said here! I just started Daring Greatly and it is already amazing. I swear she is speaking to me directly. Highly recommend.

  • NJC

    This was beautiful, Jordan. ❤️

  • Lauren

    This is a great and honest post. I remember reading your blog around the time you were filming – it was very clear you were putting your heart into a project that excited you. Of course you would be crushed that it didn’t work out. If I put myself in your position, I know that I would have been daydreaming about the opportunities and doors the show could open up…and I’m sure it felt like it was “meant” to happen after your previous horrible television experiences. I hope one day your show gets on the air. But if it doesn’t, maybe this happened for a reason. Maybe another opportunity will come along in the future and you can be better prepared for the experience. Either way, accepting the strength of the blow is always the right first step.

  • antheapena

    So proud of you Jordan

  • Katie

    This was so honest, touching, and beautifully expressed. I know how much this disappointment must sting, but what you’ve done with it here is exactly what your new career – as a writer – is all about.

  • Andi

    You are exactly where you need to be – enjoying amazing experiences with your lovely family on your own terms. Most people think “success” is what defines us yet, ironically, it’s the failures that teach us the biggest lessons in life. Embracing the tragedies is just as important as celebrating the triumphs. xo

  • Beasliee

    Thank you for sharing. Very honest. Very human.
    I absolutely hate being disappointed, or seeing anyone else disappointed. I think it’s the worst emotion.
    But I think there’s no harm in being optimistic. If you had gone into it thinking ‘this will never work’ then it wouldn’t have been fun for you or anyone else and it most certainly wouldn’t have worked out.
    I think the key thing is being able to temper your excitement and keep it realistic, and if it doesn’t pan out shrug it off, chalk it up as a learning and the next time you see a good opportunity embrace it optimistically again.
    Never feel foolish for trying something new; remember everyone wants the best for you and if they’re judgmental they aren’t worth caring about.
    There will be a new distraction along imminently so keep smiling!

    • jordanreid

      well this was lovely. thank you <3