A number of friends and family members have remarked that I attract some pretty unusual folks. All my life, strangers and acquaintances have come bearing their souls to me and confessed an assortment of things, and while I’m flattered so many people trust me, being everyone’s “go-to” person is exhausting, and I’d like to focus on owning my time and giving it to the key players in my world: my current and future employers, my LA buddies, my childhood and college friends, my good friends residing in other parts of the country, my family, and my boyfriend. I can be there for others, of course, but not to the extent I’ve been for far too long.
Since elementary school, I’ve been told I’m “too nice.” Not everyone would stand by that assessment, and believe me, I have my icy moments, but I generally give people the benefit of the doubt and try to go the extra mile for friends of any kind, whether they’re acquaintances or pals from the past. I’ve sent out many online introductions, exchanged dozens of emails, and talked through the personal problems of folks I don’t even really know. I’ve certainly needed help and advice before, so while I have no problem doing small favors for others, I haven’t been so great at drawing the line.
A while ago, a buddy of mine asked how I got on TV. I’ve been invited onto Pivot and various news outlets a few times, so I said that was the only way to score a television appearance. I reiterated that I haven’t done all that much TV work and that he really ought to talk to Elizabeth Plank, my rockstar former colleague who goes on TV a lot, for advice on making it happen.
“Well, Liz is basically a celebrity now and you’re so approachable, so I would rather speak with you.”
On one hand, I am happy to hear I’m approachable, but by all means, so is Liz, who is actually capable of answering a question of that nature, unlike me. I know it should make me feel happy to know people rush to me for guidance, and it really has been this way for many years, but what my friend said was telling of how others view me. When it comes to time, I am too selfless for my own good, and that’s about to change. I’m a person too, and when I overdo it with favors, there’s nothing left for me. It’s also very easy to take advantage of newbies to the entertainment industry, and boy, have I learned how to detect users. One came in the form of a Hollywood savant who cut me off when I said I didn’t have time to assist with a project. I was aggressively job-hunting to get on my feet, and though this was a reasonable move for me to make, it was not well-received by the other party. I am a good person, but I won’t allow anyone to walk all over me, and if somebody cannot understand why seeking employment is important, I don’t want that energy in my own life.
My good friend Nikki noticed this the moment we met. She was interning at the Daily Caller, where I was working as an editor, and pulled me aside one night to say I needed to be tougher and stick up for myself.
“Laura, why do you think the interns all flock to you like you’re their mother? You don’t value yourself.”
Nikki was right then and she’s right now. Three years later, I value myself the way I should, but I’ve been taking baby steps, and the next one is to value my time. I can’t be engaging in long-winded, neverending Facebook chats and texts when I’m with relatives, good friends, or my boyfriend. I have to be fully present, and that’s been difficult given my tendency to solve the problems of others no matter what I’m doing or who I’m with. No one has ever complained about me being on the phone, but I just don’t want to keep this up.
I’ve been very generous with my time and connections for a while, but right now, I’m practicing the art of saying “no,” not because I’m upset with anyone, but because it’s important to set my personal boundaries. It is the only way I’m going to make it in this industry, and in life. I am excited to get to work again, and once I am gainfully employed, I will only have time for my managers and those closest to me — on a regular basis, of course. I love being considered a kind friend to all, but I can still be nice and take ownership of my time.