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Confronting Thieves of Joy... Together

We all know the phrase "comparison is the thief of joy." I know this phrase well. And yet, I let it steal my joy day in and day out. A little joy here, a little here—all to be replaced with a gnawing sense of doubt that grows and thrives as comparison does.


Now, let's acknowledge the elephant in the room here... I haven't updated this blog in a little under a year—yeesh! And I'm coming out of hibernation for THIS topic? Double yeesh! Truth be told, I've been, well, busy. Insanely busy, in fact, hopping from project to project, from state to state, from continent to continent. This is no exaggeration either! It's been doing a whole bunch of really fulfilling things, as well as some not-so-fulfilling things... life things. This is the first time in months that I've felt ready to actually think about me and myself and my wants, and instead of it being a joyous time of relief, it's become a series of not-my-favorite behaviors (such as comparing myself to every living, breathing artist I see). I hope that you all reading this know what I mean when I say this... I feel like it's a shared experience for most folks in our field.


SVW sitting on a chair on a dimly-lit stage, reflecting

(That's me, performing a 15 min monologue in "A Night of Unstageable Works"! I thought it captured the vibe of this article too :,). Feel free to... Watch it here)


But where did this all come from?


I've been fortunate to have a family so thrilled about and supportive of my artistic pursuits, but my environment growing up in theatre wasn't always as sunny. Without delving into too many personal specifics (who knows who's reading out there?), I was taught that this business is a cutthroat one characterized by competition. I was taught that keeping your "wins" a secret was a good thing. I was taught that lying about plans in order to prevent others from finding out about them was a good thing. And why? Because it felt as if those closest to me were doing it too. Because it felt like all this industry was was a game of "who you know" and "who can vouch for you."


In other words, ever since I was very young, I began looking at everything from the competitive mindset of "lack" (there's only room for the top x %) versus a collaborative mindset of "abundance" (there's space for everyone if we make it).


Since starting Lighthouse Ladies, I've found a lot more space for that abundant mindset in my life. As a co-founder, my goal is to make the industry a kinder, more empathetic place for all creatives by encouraging community building over competition. I strive to extend joy, support, love, and empathy to fellow creatives and recommend folks for opportunities always — connecting people and connecting with people is my day job! And yet... I don't extend that same level of compassion and connection to myself. I see others' "wins" and instead of celebrating them, I see "losses" for myself. I see missed opportunities.


It pains me to admit this, but let's get vulnerable for a second. A few weeks ago, an old friend of mine booked an insane opportunity. I love this human, I support them always, and I couldn't be happier for him. However, my first instinct was quite different from my current stance. Instead of feeling a sense of pride and joy for him, I immediately scrolled through the crew to answer the question "why not me?" which is when I conjured up the explanation that they were all in the same friend group and this was probably a case of "we need an actor asap, who can do this?"


Now... was this true? To an extent, yes. Some of the cast and crew members were all in the same friend group. But was this a valid reason for me to criticize or come to a hasty conclusion which diminishes a fellow artist and their being cast? No—not at all.


So how do I get out of this mindset? How do I stop constantly comparing myself to others?


As many of us are aware, jealousy is rarely ever about what an external person is or isn't doing/giving/living. It's about everything that you feel that you lack in some sense. Upon further reflection, I feel I've been so busy, I've been neglecting my own career — from not updating my website/blog to overthinking instagram posts to getting too wrapped up in the craziness that I forget to submit myself on casting platforms. I've given myself grace for this, but I think I need more than grace.


As I stand at this crossroads of self-reflection and determination, I realize that confronting the thief of joy is not a solitary journey. It's about recognizing the shared experiences within our community and drawing strength from one another. So, dear readers here with me... let's embark on this journey together.


Together, let's cultivate a mindset of abundance. In a world that often promotes competition and scarcity, let's choose to believe in the abundance of opportunities and success. I plan to continue lifting fellow artists other up, celebrating our achievements, and recognizing that someone else's success does not diminish our own.


Together, let's prioritize self-compassion. Just as we extend kindness and support to others, let's learn to treat ourselves with the same level of love and empathy. Let's forgive ourselves and repeat the mantra my mamá Trini told me as I was growing up: "your time will come."


As I take the first steps on this journey towards reclaiming my joy (and saying "bye bye" to joy thieves in my life), I invite you to join me. Feel free to share below or even email me at soniavictoriawerner@gmail.com with tips, tricks, and anything that's helped you along this journey. Let's chat, connect, and support one another :).

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