I made a very dumb decision when I was planning my wedding a year and a half ago. I decided to make every centerpiece, bridesmaid's gift, and favor by hand. 27 table centerpieces, 150 favors, 4 bridesmaid's gifts, and one gift for my mom. By hand. My own two hands.
It seemed brilliant at the time (many months before the wedding). It would save us money, it would add a personal touch, and besides- I love to make things! Genius!
4 months out I began creating the centerpieces. They would be hurricane lamps decorated with ribbon that matched our ceremony colors. Of course, I couldn't just tie a silly ribbon around a lamp! Oh no! I decided I should add flowers and pearls, and rhinestones, and 'I love you' charms. They should be sewn together so they could last forever! It didn't matter that my back was killing me and I had multiple burns from the hot glue, sore fingers from the needle...I was doing something important.
The favors each had little hearts tied with red ribbon around them. The bridesmaid's gifts were picture frames with pictures of us as children and as adults. Not just any old frame- each was handmade with embellishments and mementos of our lives together. My mother received an entire scrapbook from my birth to my wedding...showing what an incredible mom she was!
If you haven't figured it out yet...I am a moron. Plain and simple...an over the top self inflicting perfectionist.
A few weeks ago, we had a yard sale. On a table covered with cloth set 15 hurricane lamps. The hand-made centerpieces for our wedding. My time, my sweat, my stress...for $2 each. I sold 2 of them. At one point, I tried to give them away...no one wanted them. They are now sitting in boxes in my garage.
I've been doing quite a bit of reading lately, and noticed several of my fellow voice actors (including myself) are doing to their careers what I did to my lanterns. Perhaps I should say 'overdoing'.
It is easy to fall into a pattern when you work for yourself. We each want to succeed, and it can be hard to know when to walk away. In the downtime between voice jobs, I have a tendency to still sit in my studio on the computer. I read the voice actor forums (there are almost too many to keep up with!), I listen to auditions from other voice actors that have been posted online, I read blogs, I research the market and make sure my demos are in every appropriate location, I listen to every demo at the top agencies (oh yes, there are a few I even know by heart), and I brainstorm ways to improve my business and my acting.
Obviously, this is what makes me great at marketing and it also makes me a better voice actor. The question is...when do I just let it go and trust I've done everything I can do for the day?
I've been thinking a lot about those lamps. One sits above my computer- another to my right. One in the guest room and two in my bedroom. They are beautiful and would likely sell for a fortune in the right store. Sometimes I wonder though...did anyone see them at my wedding? Were they really just for me? Did those pearls really need to be sewn to the ribbon, or was the ribbon just fine on it's own?
This last weekend, I walked away from my studio. I went out with a girlfriend and tasted some new wines. I cleaned my house from top to bottom. I spent time in my gardens pruning the flowers. Sure, I checked my e-mails and even recorded a couple of auditions, but I didn't worry if I had missed something. I didn't spend all of my time sewing pearls- I stopped and looked at the big picture. I remembered what mattered.
Success isn't success if all of your time is spent getting there. Success is defined by the person you are at the end of the day. (I think someone famous said that once)
If this is the job we are each meant to have- the little embellishments won't be necessary. Our work will speak for itself. So, stop worrying and go enjoy the party!