DECLAN MICHAEL LAIRD | Actor + Mental Health Advocate | No. 20
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HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.
“It’s very important on a daily basis to check yourself and realize what you do have in your life and be grateful for it.”
Declan's an interesting character. In that, he's an actor, so by default he's a character. He can switch in and out of accents. He plays different roles. Different careers. Different, well, characters.
“Growing up I always loved movies - loved movies. I saw them as an escape, probably because when I went to the cinema and I was watching a movie, your mind shuts off for two hours and you’re not thinking about anything else and I used to see it as an escape. I used to watch the movies and think, I could do that! I could act like that. I could be that character.”
When I first met him, I assumed him to be a budding producer. After all, he came into the VICE offices to pitch something to our team. In my haste to be prepared for the meeting, I googled the guy. Actor. Football player. Scottish. Producer? I don't get it. Which one am I dealing with right now. That was me, then. Fearful of The Unknown. Wanting to set myself up for success. Playing my cards right.
Last summer, as I was freshly embarking on my Recovery, Declan's instagram profile popped up. Mental Health Advocate. Hmph, I thought. Was that always written there? Or had I not paid much attention to it. Selective Learning. We miss a lot when we're trying to predict the situation and its' outcome.
I reached out. We talked on the phone. He told me his story, similar to the one you'll hear on this podcast. Raw, Transparent, Honest, Vulnerable. All the things I was striving towards. It's funny, right? How much choice we have in what we see? It was there all along, that Declan character, but I didn't want to see it. Perhaps, couldn't. But I could see him now. Clearly.
We set a date and in the summer of 2017 we recorded this pod. I edited it a few weeks back, the content even more relevant than before. Now, with 25 Workshops in my belt, I have spent enough time with Men to fully understand the gems Declan was throwing my way.
"The conversation needs to be opened up to things like mental health. To things like addiction. Because nowadays, especially with social media, the rates of depression, bi-polar disorder, of any of these inner turmoil conditions that people are facing are going up dramatically."
“Things like social media - no one puts the truth to what’s going on. It’s a highlight reel of their life, of their very best moments of every day, or every week, or every month. People then start to compare their insides to other people’s outsides and I think that’s a very dangerous place to be.”
“My friend might call me and say, ‘hey how are you doing’ and you tell the truth, you go, ‘you know what man I’m actually having a really shitty day’ and that person on the phone goes ‘fuck so am I’, and you talk about it together on a real level. Then suddenly you get on a level where you’re a lot more comfortable talking about it with everyone.”
There's plenty more. His life trajectory is quite fascinating, filled with characters, roles, changes, ups + downs, and most importantly, failures.
“Not being excellent in everything that you do is okay. Nobody’s excellent at everything. Nobody’s great at everything. And constant failure is the key to success.”
I'll let him take it from here.