“The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.”
I know that the quote above is everywhere on every Facebook page and brought out by life coaches daily. I have recently been having to ask myself this very question.
I used to smile at the first three people
When I was young I was an almost annoyingly happy girl. I was addicted to self-help books and psychologists on talk radio shows telling the world how to be happy and balanced. I used to smile at the first three people I saw every day and of course I always received a return smile which set my expectations for the day. I thought I had it all figured out. Fast forward … quite a few years and it became more and more difficult to even appear happy. I worked for a large Corporate company and the atmosphere was like a daily episode of The Apprentice. People were ugly, they were ugly to themselves and to each other. When I first started I really believed in my credo love and learn from everyone. I genuinely liked people. The problem seemed to be that no one wanted my brand of happy. They weren’t happy and were determined not to be. I’m sure they were very happy outside of that environment but I was hired because they were angry and unhappy. My job was to fix this. I tried for about three years until I slowly started trying to fit in. I still did my occasional voice over jobs or Theatre on the side. I even had a stint in Cabaret and a brief appearance on television and of course there was my true love narrating audio books for the RNIB but always I showed back up to that place day after endless day. For the first few years I told myself I’d get out soon all I had to do was save some money, lose a little weight, start exercising and I’d finally make a move. After a while I stopped pretending. If you even mentioned leaving people would say you were crazy and whisper the all-important word ‘pension’. I was institutionalised and I felt broken.
Here was my chance, my escape surely the universe was telling me something.
Fast forward 5 more years and I was made redundant. Everyone in the company acted as if I’d been dealt a death knell they called me in for chats and felt horribly sorry for me. I however felt free. Here was my chance, my escape surely the universe was telling me something. That was two years ago. It soon became clear that the universe must have been telling me to stay home and eat cereal out of the box and watch reruns of Murder She Wrote. Don’t get me wrong I did a tremendous amount in that time. I built a studio. I got a narration coach. I learned and practiced and eventually started booking jobs on ACX. I was officially an Audiobook narrator. I tried to ignore the voice in the back of my head that kept saying ‘but how are you going to pay your mortgage?’. I went on a few voice over jobs through my agent but I actually spent more than I made.
Everyone always says the voice over industry is the friendliest in the world
Then something happened to change my mind. Everyone always says the voice over industry is the friendliest in the world, that the people are the most helpful on earth. I knew intellectually that I liked people of course I did but my brain had been rewired to expect the worst in the last few years. I had left the Corporate job but I brought ‘Corporate girl’ with me. I would go on the Facebook groups and of course I would notice the tons of support. People would go out of their way to help me and show kindness with no expectation of anything in return. Yet somehow I felt like the outsider that wasn’t going to fit in. I walked around with the feeling that since everyone was such good friends and there are so many people already working in this industry that I’ll never be able to catch up. I remember one day repeating something I’d read on the Facebook group to my coach along the line of ‘Isn’t it true in this industry that people only get the jobs if they know someone’ and his response was ‘so?’. I had to ask myself ‘so what?’ What’s wrong with people wanting to know the people they hire and work with personally?
Then something happened
Then I started to notice small acts of kindness amongst members of the community. I reached out to fellow narrators and we created a master mind group to support each other and we’ve all become good friends. Then something happened. I was invited to a private group of voice over members that were reaching out and supporting one of the members of the voice over community in the most wonderful way possible. This was a kind, thoughtful, generous group of people that genuinely cared for each other. I found myself logging on to read all the daily posts and as I read them I actually cried right then and there. I felt exactly like the Rusted Tin Man would have felt (if he had actually been given his new heart by the wizard).
The journey didn’t have to be so hard
It was finally very clear to me that although I’d been working so hard for two years often until 3:00 in the morning editing that I’d been trying to do it in a bubble. The journey didn’t have to be so hard. There is a large built in, talented, wonderful group of people that ‘get it’ that have been there, some who are right where I am now. I’ve re-joined The VoiceOver Network. I’ve started smiling at the first three people I see every day and I’ve finally answered that age old question. I believe I live in a friendly universe.
by Daniela Acitelli
Daniela Acitelli is a professional Audiobook Narrator and Voiceover Artist with a Theatre, Film, Cabaret and Circus background. She is also an official narrator for the RNIB and Listen2aBook publishing. www.danielaacitelli.com