recently, i came across this article by tina fey about her “secret to success”. those who know me well, know how much i adore tina, most especially her iconic character liz lemon on 30 rock (some might even argue that i am the real-life embodiment of lemon – not sure if that is a good thing!). i thought it would be appropriate to share this article tonight, the night of the 30 rock series finale, even though cheap, cableless grad students like myself won’t be watching it until it tomorrow (thank goodness for hulu!).

i’ve been thinking a lot about saying “yes” lately. i feel like the last 2.5 years of graduate school at the university of maryland have been a lesson in saying yes – yes to commitments and homework and subbing and extra cups of coffee and a lack of sleep, yes; but also yes to ideas, yes to myself, yes to my talent.

(i hope that doesn’t sound conceited.)

as an artist, though, i’ve realized that the only way to succeed is by being a little conceited. not in a braggy, obnoxious way, but in a way that allows you to say yes! to everything, even if you aren’t 100% sure you are cut out for it.

yes, i can organize that concert.

yes, i can choreograph that new piece in 10 rehearsal hours or less.

yes, i can totally take that media design class and not crash all the computers.

in my “past” life, pre-umd, i thought a lot. even when i pretended i was taking risks, every step was careful weighed against my self-confidence. “yes, i can technically do this,” i would think, “but can i do it well enough not to look stupid in the process?”

to be successful, you have to look stupid sometimes. you have to fail. that is part of saying yes, no matter how talented you are. i had three terrible showings of my thesis concert before i finally got it right – just crawl in a hole and never come out, what does she think she’s doing with her life, quit now and go to nursing school TERRIBLE. rather than doing any of those things though, i bounced back. i had too, the school had already invested too much in me – and what they perceived to be my talent (whether i believed in it or not at the time) –  for me to do anything but bounce back.  i’m learning how to put that pressure on myself: “well, shannon, you’ve invested this much in yourself, one bad showing can’t undo all that. just say yes to it, and you’ll figure it out.”

saying yes is exhausting, i can say that much, but it’s exciting too. it’s leading me to all sorts of places and people i wouldn’t have imagined 3 years ago. like brooklyn, and back to my alma matter. and while i may still end up crashing all the computers in that media design class, at least i’ll be doing it with passion … lemon style.

liz poptart