How to Change Careers when You’re Lost | Felicia Ricci | TEDxYale

Translator: Naoko Fujii
Reviewer: Denise RQ Hi, everyone. I’m Felicia, that says there. This is really exciting. I actually took professor Chun’s class
when I was at Yale. He is awesome.
So, it’s honored to be here. The past three years of my life
have been a whirlwind. I moved three times, I wrote two books, I published one of them,
and I actually started my own business. Three years ago,
my life looked incredibly different. I was living in New York City,
and I was working full time as an actor. I had an agent, I was a member
of the Actors Union, and I have just come off being in one
of the biggest musicals of all time, which was “Wicked.” Any of you have seen Wicked?
(Applause) Yeap! So, it’s a really big musical. And on the outside, you know,
everything was going great. If I kept going in this direction,
maybe I could do a lot in theater. And sort of all seemed
to be pointing in that one direction. But on the inside, I was wracked
with doubt, and I was incredibly scared. The reason being, you know, theater and acting was
what I have thought to be my life dream. Ever since I was two,
I went to see my first Broadway show, which was “The phantom of the opera”;
claps for “The phantom of the opera.” (Applause) I don’t know why. I was obsessed with theater.
I went to theater camp. I would sing in the shower,
my parents heard me… I would sing soundtracks
all the time, so I was obsessed. And then, in college,
even though I did have a lot of interest, and I actually majored in English, I decided, when I graduated,
that I had to go for it, I had to go for the theater
because if I didn’t, I would regret it. So, I did. And the relative success
I had early on with “Wicked” was very complicated for me. Because on one hand,
you know, it was amazing. It was the fulfillment
of literally a lifelong dream. But on the other hand, it made me see pretty quickly that what I have thought
was my lifelong dream might not actually be what I wanted
to do for the rest of my life. When I was researching this experience, I thought this is
like a footnote in life, right? So, you start one place
and you end up another, but what we don’t know
is talk about that process. And I wanted to get in the mindset
of what that felt like because I am an actor,
and I wanted to access those emotions. I pulled up a bunch of the emails
I’ve been writing at that time, I found the one I wrote to my agent
when I finally had made the decision and said something like: “Hi David, please cancel all my auditions.
I need to take a long break from acting. I don’t know whether or not
this will be permanent. I’m sorry, but my heart
is not in the business. And it doesn’t fulfill me
in the way I thought it would. Please know that it is not impulsive
but comes after many months of trying to figure out
what to do with my life. Sorry if I wasted your time,
but this is my truth.” So, phew!, even in saying it back now, I kind of like, relieve
the feelings of being there. And it’s a horrible place, right? To not know what you’re going
to be doing with your life. And that horrible thing, my friends,
is what I want to talk to you about today. And that is the process of revision. So, the official title of this talk is: “There is no final draft: keep revising
your life to create your reality.” So, maybe some of you can relate
to what I have just described that feeling of going in one direction or maybe trying
to figure out where to go next? Or maybe some of you are lucky enough
to never have been confronted by those feelings of doubt yet. But, just so we are all on the same page, I want to delve into
what I mean by revision. So, the first thing
that I think of when I think of revision I try to make clear by this visual aid, which is the process
of submitting a paper or an essay to a teacher and I know
we can all relate to that, and getting it back and then seeing
all the nasty red ink on the page, and Xs, and underlines,
and the question marks… And it’s just like the worst feeling to think that you’re completely
done with something, but then to read the margins
that say, “Not quite,” or “Go deeper,”
or “Think again.” So, this experience is a microcosm of what
I’m talking about on a grander-scale which is a life revision. So, I wanted to define
what I meant by that. And a revision in this case means
any change that meaningfully alters your day-to-day life
in the long term, right? So, a revision can be something
that is planned – in the case of taking
a break from acting, I thought about it for many months –
or can be unplanned. Life sends you so many curve balls, and a lot of times,
a revision can be a reaction to that. Revision can also be at varying degrees. It can be a 180 degree change;
that’s very drastic, but I’m not necessarily talking
about starting over or completely leveling your life. There can be varying degrees. There can be
a recalibration or a refocusing. So, that’s what I mean by revision. And then when I was thinking
about giving this talk, I knew that this topic meant a lot to me,
but then I thought to myself: “OK, so I am talking to everybody
as like this expert in revision?” and the answer is, “Absolutely not.” I’m not speaking to you as an expert,
but I realized that I’m speaking to you as a revision advocate
or a revision agent. And, hopefully, my goal is
to encourage you and empower you to be able to embrace
this process of change as opposed to
be totally freaked out by it. So, that’s where I am coming from
and in order to do that, I figured out I would give you
my top three tips for making a revision. And that’s actually a photo of me because it was royalty for it,
so I put that photo of me right there… (Laughter) OK. So, my top three tips
for making a revision. The first has to do
with ignoring the odds. And that is, if you are innovative,
the odds would never be in your favor. My path in particular
has led me to the arts. I’ve always been really into theater,
and now, writing. The chances and the statistics of someone actually making a living
doing these things were horrible. So, I had to get used
to ignoring the odds, and completely drowning out
the sound of people telling me whether or not this looks like
a good prospect for my life. And similarly, if you’re contemplating
a change of direction, a change in gear that is unorthodox or innovative, the same is going to be
absolutely true for you. You are by definition going
against the odds. So, my point is that it’s a sort
of an irrelevant data point to think about: “Well, you know,
let me consult the statistics on this.” And the thing is that people
who care about you the most are going to be the ones
who are telling you that they’re going to want
a more secure life path for you, so they are going to point
these things out to you, but I would encourage you
to really listen to your gut; and when you really consider what step
to take next, to just ignore the odds. Because if you go against the grain, you’ll be going against the odds
by definition. That’s my first tip. My second tip is that revisions
can be terrifying and stressful, and you will freak out. I thought of a little visual humor
for you. (Laughter) OK. So, basically I want to tell you guys
to embrace the fear aspect. And I feel like that this part
could lead to 100 TED talks, the aspect of fear when you are going
through any life revision. But I didn’t want
to bring this up because I feel like it’s such an universal experience
and it’s almost so obvious, right? That change is scary. But when I was at first writing
the speech, I didn’t think to mention it. Because we have a tendency when we’re being, like, polished
and talking about a topic and I want to be academic about it,
like: “I can talk about how scary it was.” When in actuality it was incredibly scary,
making this huge change. You would think that since I’ve been
on stage and I like acting, that I have these nerves of steel;
but that’s absolutely not true. I’m very nervous right now. I’ve encountered
a lot of anxiety in my life, and particularly involving huge revision. So, I just want to put that out there
that everybody freaks out, you freak out, I freak out,
we all freak out. The most successful people do; but it’s not something
that’s really talked about. There are a bunch of resources
out there that can help you if you are currently going through
a scary time or if you do in the future. I actually want to invite you
to email me, [email protected] I have a bunch of resources that have helped me to channel
my anxiety and my fear. And I’d be happy to share those with you,
so, I want to put that out there. So, my final tip for you
is probably the most important tip. And it is that you can’t decide
by thinking, you can only decide by doing. And this one is a really annoying truth because if you’re like me,
you like to think things through, you just want to analyze
every possible outcome, and that’s great. Researching what you want
to do with your life or where you want to go is very valuable. Making pro and cons charts.
I did that as well. But the fact is, when it actually comes
to making a decision, you’re never going to know
how it’s going to turn out until you actually do that thing,
till you actually follow through. And that’s just true.
I have two examples of this. And one is when I wrote my first book. I really wanted to make sure that I would be really good at writing
a book before I wrote the book. So, I read all these books on books.
And I read, you know, how to write books. But it wasn’t until I actually sat down
and I wrote the damn book that I realized that I could do this. This is actually something that fit me.
but it was in the doing. On the flip side, after I wrote my first book
which was actually a non-fiction book, I thought to myself: “OK, my next goal is
I want to write a young adult novel.” So, a similar thing.
I read books on young adult novels, I read young adult novels,
I watched the Twilight series. (Laughter) Twice, no, just once. And so, you know, I was like:
“You kind of think it through.” And then it wasn’t
till it took about eight months, and I wrote 200,000 words that I realized that I actually
hate young adult novels. (Laughter) No, I don’t hate
all the young adult novels, but me, personally, it was not
the right fit for me as a writer, and I didn’t know till I actually did it. So, this is, I think, where you combine the embracing of the fear
and ignoring the odds; is just putting that all behind you,
and actually doing it. I mean, it sounds simple,
but it’s a process. And it’s one that I hope I can demystify for you all,
and encourage you to do. So, this is my final slide:
“Go forth and revise!” Today, I live in Pennsylvania,
and I spend a lot of my time writing. I teach voice lessons,
I run my own company, I help my fiancé run his company;
I do a lot of stuff. And it suits me for now.
So, it’s an ongoing process of revision. But it’s such a crucial element of life. I just want you all to go boldly forth, and create positive change
for yourself and also for the world. It’s a tall order, but I think
we can do it, my friends. Thank you so much for having me. (Applause)

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