Acrylic Painting by Messy Heart Studio on Etsy.com
I was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, resulting in me being a wheelchair user, and a body that’s not going be featured in a Victoria Secret ad any time soon. I’m not telling you this because I want you to feel bad for me, or read this article as some incredible triumph over adversity. Far from it. It’s just to give you some context from where my self esteem issues generated. We all have some glaring piece of ourselves that serves as a road block to self-love; mine just happens to be metal and has to be charged every night.
Two years ago my life took a sharp right turn that I didn’t see coming. My life was on a trajectory to a house in the suburbs, a family, and an office job. Instead, that reality crumbled around me very quickly and after a period of self wallowing (that went on way longer than I’m willing to admit), I was forced to make changes and that life upheaval really became the catalyst to my self discovery.
Rather than getting another office job I knew I’d hate, I focused on only doing things that made me happy, in pursuit of the career of which I had lost sight – my acting. I also went and talked to someone to try to get to the heart of my self destruction. Finally, I learned that everyone’s road to confidence is different. There isn’t a book you can buy that has all the answers. There isn’t a fad diet in which you can drink green juice for a week and be cured. Trust me, as a person who loves fast food, and wishes, daily, for the invention of teleportation, I wish that it was that easy. Instead, it takes work, it takes dedication, and it takes you really wanting to change. I took all of these realizations to heart, and really began to be truly proud of who I am, and what I have to offer the world. Turns out, I’m kind of awesome.
I still have work to do and discoveries to make, and I still have bad “dark” days. Yet, we all do, because we’re human and no one can look at a magazine cover of Kate Upton and not feel a little inferior. Still, in my journey over the past few years, I found that the subsequent items have given me a path to follow when I’m starting to regress back down the hill of self doubt. I want to pass them along to you and maybe you can include them in your journey.
1. Be passionate about something. Anything! Find something you’re passionate about and do it as much as possible. It can be as simple as reading a great book, or taking pictures, or performing on stage, or watching cat videos on the computer. If it makes your eyes light up and makes you happy, then it’s worth doing.
2. Never underestimate the power of an epic car concert. Find your favorite CD. Get in your car. Sing your heart out. Trust me. If someone catches you, smile and be proud. There’s something so cathartic about singing regardless of your talent level. Plus, your car thinks you’re better than Beyoncé.
3. Don’t judge your looks against someone else, and if you do, remember
something (at least one thing) about you that you love. We’re all unique and that’s great! The Stepford Wives is a Sci-Fi Horror film for a reason. If we were all the same the world would be a boring, boring place. So stop judging yourself against Kim Kardashian’s ass. Find something about yourself that is unique and special. Love it. Focus on that when you find yourself thinking about all the things you want to change.
4. Eat the second cookie. Always. It’s always a good idea.
5. Societal Norms are crap. Do you look at Facebook and see your friends getting married, or having kids, or have the perfect job and think, what am I doing wrong? STOP IT! You need to do what is right for you. I spend my days writing comedy, editing my web series, and practicing lines. I’m broke, single, and have never been happier.
6. Surround yourself with people who inspire you. Find a group of people that make you want to work harder, make you proud to be you, and who are passionate, as well. People who have a negative effect on your life need to go. Life is too short for people who are as useful as Dementors.
Best of luck on your own journey and remember you’re amazing. I promise.
|Shannon DeVido is an actress, comedian, singer, and writer. She has performed comedy around the country as a stand up comedian and improv with her longform teams, Hell on Wheels and Axis of Evil, on television (Law and Order: SVU), and Off-Broadway.
An accomplished singer, she currently performs with her quirky, singer-songwriting duo, Useful Rooster.
Finally, Her popular YouTube channel, Stare at Shannon, breaks the conventional image of disability through comedy.