Congratulating Yourself

My whole life I have been terrified of looking conceited, self centered, too engaged in my own behavior, but in doing so, I’ve become my fear. I’ve allowed my self-proclaimed humbleness to inhibit my talent and dreams. Finally, as a 26 year old actor, I’m beginning to let that go.

From a young age, accepting compliments has always been something I’ve struggled with. I decided that the attitudes of kids I surrounded myself with in our theatre community were not attitudes I wanted to see be reflected in myself. And so I buried myself in the work of it all. That is something I’ve been doing pretty much ever since. Except the difference between myself and those self centered attitudes of the fellow twelve year olds I knew back in the day, was the fact that I continued to learn and grow, and pursued theatre as a career for myself. Many of those kids I thought were conceited were simply confident, and were not afraid to let people know. Now I understand that the fear of looking self centered as an artist has taught me to keep my talents behind a wall, to not use them or flash them, or try harder than everyone else around me, and that is a problem.

Fear has turned me into a timid actor (even though it may not always seem that way), and I’m working on changing that.

I’m going to the auditions, doing the best I can, even if I fail.

Not too long ago, I went to an audition that I was really excited about. I went in, sang, and they asked me to stay to dance. I’ve always been confident in my singing, and it’s something I still work really hard at. Anyway, I stayed for the dance call, and all I did the whole dance call was tell myself that I wasn’t good enough. That’s all I could think about.

I got out of the audition and called my friend Sarah. She said something really important that I am so thankful for. She told me “You should be congratulating yourself.”

I put myself out there, I did everything I could, and I walked away with my head down. All it takes to change that attitude is to move my chin 2 inches to the clouds.

I can firmly say I am good at what I do. I work hard, I try hard, I sound good, I go to the auditions. So, good job Val, you’re doing great.

I’m doing great.

Of course there will always be things to work on, and as an actor I’ve got to be working as hard as I can, but it feels great to recognize my own worth as a person and an actor.

Things I learned When I Got a Bigger Apartment

1. It’s okay to be picky

Last year, when we finally decided to move from Brooklyn to Philly, we decided that we had to be more choosey with what we wanted in a house/apartment. I can not advocate for this more. I am so happy we went for what we wanted, and not with just was easy. We happened to find an amazing townhouse/apartment kind of thing. If we didn’t set our goals four ourselves earlier, I don’t think we would have found our amazing place.

YOU’RE living here. Not your family or friends, YOU. SO get used to liking it. Work hard for your rent money. And if you’re like me, surround yourself with a home that fulfills you. I am so proud of our efforts and choices involved in finding our current home. I feel motivated every day to get outside and get stuff done.

This is an apartment that we looked at, but ultimately passed on. It was so beautiful inside, but just didn’t fit our needs. We love walking down this street still. It just so happens we took engagement photos outside of this apartment even before we looked at it!

credit: Samantha Braun Photography

2.  There will ALWAYS be dishes to do, even if you have a dishwasher.

LISTEN. Our very first place in NYC, we didn’t have a dishwasher. There were ALWAYS dishes to do, but neither of us wanted to be in the kitchen because it was so ill-maintained throughout the years that it freaked us both out. This led to horrible habits for both of us. I never really remember getting out of that apartment much,because it was so much easier to barricade myself in my room instead of facing the mess that we had to deal with. I could not be more grateful for having a real, FULL-SIZED, dishwasher in our current place. We make sure we run it every nigh, as well as wipe down the surfaces in our kitchen. Overall, I feel waaay more motivated and happy with our kitchen now, even though it’s tiny.

However, that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to keep up with good habits. Take it from me. My mom still swears she is still finding candy wrappers and messes that I’ve made throughout my childhood in my bedroom at the house I grew up in. It’s not always easy for me to tackle mess, but having a bigger space of my own, allows me more freedom to fail, and in turn, more chances to succeed. There are always dishes to be done, but I feel pride in myself and my home when I get them done. I am still learning.

3.  Having clean laundry is nice, but it’s never-ending

This is kind of a similar vein to the last bullet point, but just as important. If having laundry to do bothers you, don’t be afraid to look for a place that will make it easier for you! We happen to be able to laundry every day if we like. I am so grateful for this new space in our house. my habits have changed completely. I laundry all of the time, and I’m not completely sick of yet. Now this statement might make some of you roll your eyes, but it is an achievement in my eyes, and I like to celebrate the little things.

Now listen, this laundry is never-ending. We have so many clothes, and that means we are responsible for keeping them all clean. But I am so happy that we have the opportunity to do so.

From a person who has never been good at organization/is trying to be better, do you have any advice for those who do not have the convenience of a laundry room in their house? Are there any helpful tips to make things easier?

4. You’re never going to be finished with decorating and perfecting

I am a space-filler. When I look at my walls, I constantly see negative space. I wanna fill it all with art, mine or my friends. But then I take a step back and look at the whole wall, and the whole picture needs a little space,a  little separation to make sense of each piece of art. That being said, I’m still interested in filling space and having something interested to look at no matter where my eye falls.

I also think it is easy to doubt your sense of style. For me, I get very proud of how I decorate, and then people come over, and they say they love it, and then I start to doubt myself. Does this happen to everyone else? And honestly, that’s okay with me, I know that I have my very own style, but I am kind of okay with having to evolve constantly. It means I’ll never be bored. Relaxing has never really been my thing.


5.  All of your old furniture won’t fit perfectly in your new space, even if it’s bigger.

Listen…It’s just not. Thrift store are your friend. For us, this was also lesson in learning to let go. We also got a new couch out of the deal. a PINK couch. #dreamcometrue

6. Your style is ever evolving are items in my home I THINK I will never want to change out, and then I do. I like this because it means I am happy with things, until i’m not, and that’s when I make changes. Never ever ever bored.

Also trends come and go. I think it’s cool to try the trends. Don’t be afraid to take risks. It’s like wearing wacky clothes. You’ll never know if it will stick with you unless you try it out! Honestly, who cares if it doesn’t work?! Have fun. That’s how I live at least.

7.  You won’t always get everything you want

When we were looking for new places to live in Philly, we found places with some amazing things. We found basements, backyards, garages, great locations, etc. etc. But the truth is, we never found anything that had EVERYTHING we want. We have an apartment that has two stories, an incredible location, great landlords, outdoor space, and hen a small kitchen and crappy parking. But I don’t regret settling on this apartment. We had to weigh our pros and cons (which we literally did on paper) and picked an apartment that works amazingly for us. You have to let some things go to be able to truly enjoy the things you have the opportunity to enjoy (i.e. more space, ability to have pets, all those sorts of things.)