One of the things you need to know about me is that I’m a massive Gilmore Girls fan. I discovered the show when it was in its fourth season and watched the first three seasons in a weekend-long bender that had me talking like a lost Gilmore cousin–fast, fast, fast, fast! With witty asides! And zingy comebacks!
Thanks to the show I, like the rest of America, fell in love with Melissa McCarthy, who played Sookie, Lorelai Gilmore’s best friend. Since then, McCarthy has shined in Bridesmaids and now she has a new movie coming out called Identity Thief. She stopped by The Daily Show last week and Jon Stewart began to ask her questions about how she got her start.
“How, how did this happen? You grew up in Illinois?” – JS
“Yeah, a little town, Plainfield.” -MM
“What gave you the courage to decide, You know what? I’m moving to New York?”
During the story, I was glued to the screen. (Skip to 2:40 to begin)
Now, I LOVE origin stories that begin with the person growing up in the middle of nowhere. We root harder for that person, don’t we? It’s just such a better story than, Well, my mom is Goldie Hawn…so, you know. Also, as someone who grew up in a town nicknamed the “Redneck Riviera,” I identify with these stories. But it was her perspective on why she was successful that really struck me.
Her story is that she moved to New York City with no money, and on a whim decided to start doing stand-up. She tells Stewart that this confidence came not from experience–in fact, she’d never before done any writing or any stand-up before–but from sheer ignorance. And looking back now, it give her panic attacks just thinking about it.
So many of us did something like this in our twenties, I think. For instance, I moved to New York City with $200 to my name. Imagine my shock when the gruff real estate agent said something about a “security deposit” that amounted to more money than I’d seen in my lifetime. I talked my way into a job at Random House and soon began writing novels with my best friend. When we were done, we sent it to an agent because, Why not?
Looking back now, it’s almost painful to remember how naive we were. But in a way, that ignorance served us well. Now, I’m 34. I’ve been in the book industry for nearly six years and I’ve failed a lot. I can no longer face the blank page of a new novel and think, Just start typing words! I’m sure it’ll work out! I’m too wrapped up in my own thoughts, throwing out doubts and fears of not being good enough and anxieties. I’m not sure how to recapture that feeling of invincibility you have in your early twenties, but I want to, at least when I sit down at this computer every morning.
However, I will gladly pass on the part where that same invincibility had me surviving for a week on crackers and rice because my rent was due and my budgeting skills were weak.