Deciding to be a professional magician can expose you to a lot of negativity (and that’s just from people who don’t want to see ANOTHER card trick!). Here’s my thoughts on how to deal with it.
Most people will be exposed to a certain amount of negativity at work or in their personal lives. If you decide to do something that is deemed unusual like campaigning for a particular cause, engaging in an unexpected hobby or choosing a career that isn’t something that people are encouraged to do at school there can be varying levels of resistance from the people around you.
Let’s start with family. These are the people that have your best interests at heart so if you suddenly announce that you want to take up naked skydiving they’ll understandably be concerned! When I started pushing towards a career in entertainment there was a few chats with my parents about how only a few people are successful in entertainment and it takes a lot of dedication to make a living in show business. To be honest I think they were mostly concerned that they’d paid tuition fees for my degree in Journalism and didn’t want it to be a complete waste of money. Thankfully it’s come in handy for writing blogs so it’s only an almost complete waste of money (although I did also have a really fun three years)! There was also the regular question “when are you going to get a proper job?” which I was asked fairly regularly for most of my 20s.
The family negativity doesn’t just come from parents it can also come from partners. I remember one of my exes discouraging me from being a magician and recommending I become a runner for TV productions. In case you don’t know, a runner is basically a gopher who fetches things for the main crew (go fer coffee, go fer this go fer that). This recommendation is why she became my ex… that and my youthful philandering! My wife now is quite often a vital cog in my creative process but even she can pull quite strongly in the opposite direction whenever I start to do anything new – like when I started writing a blog for example!
It’s important to recognise the negativity from family and loved ones for what it is: love! They are only concerned about your wellbeing and future success. The best way to deal with it is to explain clearly what you want to do and why you want to do it. Show that you’ve thought it through and you’ve already considered all the negative points that they bring up (if you haven’t done that then do that!). If their background is quite down to Earth, seeing someone they love take a more exotic path will be worrying but at the end of the day it is your life and you’ve got to decide what to do with it. If you show you are determined to do whatever it is you want to do hopefully they will respect that and do what they can to support you. If all else fails make them watch Billy Elliot!
As hard as it can be to deal with negativity from the people you love there is another, much more harmful source of resistance to your dreams, one that can take you to really dark, horrible places if you let it and one that everyone must overcome at some point if they are to have any kind of success. That source of negativity is… yourself (shock twist)! When you are starting out it will be scary, especially that first step. Fear of failure will be a major factor and every whisper of self-doubt will suddenly find a megaphone. Whether you are taking up ballroom dancing as a hobby or hoping to forge a career as an astronaut there are a couple of things it is important to remember. As someone much cleverer than me once said, “a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step” (or something like that). The journey may look impossible but if you just take one step at a time you’ll get there, or at least get further than if you take no steps at all. Also, it’s possible to fail at something you hate so you might as well try to do something you love.
Speaking of failure, once you’ve started on the path you want to be on at some point you WILL fail. It might be small it might be huge but it will reawaken all those doubts in your head. However, you can’t be afraid to fail and you can’t let failure stop you. The best way to deal with failure is to fail forwards, this means learning something from your failure and using it moving forwards.
We’ve covered negativity from those close to you and negativity from yourself, all that’s left is negativity from everyone else. There’s one simple way to deal with that: stick two fingers up, one on each hand if you’re American! Or maybe be more polite and take Robert Downey Jr’s advice “Listen, smile, agree and then do whatever the f$£k you were going to do anyway.” Can you think of any other sources of negativity, not just for magicians and entertainers but anywhere in life? How would you advise people to deal with it? Let me know in the comments. As always please like and share, and remember: don’t wait until you are ready, there is no such thing – there is only now!