Hard Act to Follow 2

(I wrote this on 5/15 but didn’t realize I hadn’t published it but had left it in draft form.)

A former colleague told me recently that I “was a hard act to follow.”  He meant it tongue-in-cheek but it got me to thinking.  (Oh-oh.)  It’s something I’ve heard through-out my life. 

Perhaps I’m a hard act to follow because I wasn’t acting.  I wasn’t playing a role.  I was being me.  I give my all to my work, whether I get a paycheck for it or it’s self-assigned.  Immersion in the work, studying the work, researching other ways to do the work, locating and learning from others who’ve done similar work, evaluating work done and planning how to do work better is how I roll – er – work.

It is why I’ve been successful at getting so many things done with usually less than adequate financial and support resources.  It’s also why I get burnt out.  A busy person who has some success gets asked to do lots of things.  It is sometimes hard to say not to those things when your title demands your participation.

So, I’ve never acted.  I’ve worked to an internal set of standards modeled for me by my mother – who was always working deeply – at parenting, at teaching, at church, at sewing, etc.  From her and the other adult women in my life when I grew up, I learned that women are always working, are always getting things done.  (Too often neglecting themselves.)

Wait a minute, now that I think about it, I have sometimes acted.  I’ve acted like I had energy when I was dog-tired.  I’ve acted like I cared about what the speaker at a meeting was saying when I was taking a mini-vacation in my mind. (Thank goodness for doodling, making lists, writing letters, and dreaming up stories while listening with one ear.)  I’ve acted when I didn’t go on a rant and kept my mouth shut and a smile plastered on my face.  I’ve acted when I appeared to believe that whoever on the staff or committee was actually going to do what they said they were going to do (and I had experience enough to know better than to believe them).  I’ve acted to keep the peace and keep the wheels turning.

In this time of transition for me, during which I’m learning to make a living with short term projects and not the security of a full-time gig, I have decided to act like I’ll make it in this uncharted terrain.  What I like about the short-term projects is that by the time someone gets on your last nerve, the project is over and you can decide whether to work with that client ever again.  Living independently, following one’s muse, finding a way to get paid doing what one loves, now that would be an incredible act of living.  One that fits like a glove.  I’m auditioning for this part now.  Leads are welcome.

About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

2 thoughts on “Hard Act to Follow

  • LeeAnn

    I knew before one paragraph that you are for real. Maybe you act on occasion – that’s called discretion. But even then, I think you are 100% YOU and I have a feeling I’d be honored to know you or work with you.

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