The Thrive Questionnaire//

Fresh off the Boat’s Chelsey Crisp Gets Real About Why Validation Is Overrated

The actress shares what her career has taught her about embracing mistakes and rejection.

When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people. 

Comedian Chelsey Crisp wants us to stop taking rejection so seriously. As someone who got her start doing improv on stage, the Fresh off the Boat star knows a thing or two about slip-ups. However, after many failed auditions and a recent entrance into the unpredictable world of motherhood, Crisp has a new outlook on imperfections: Embrace them. “Having a background in improv, I found that mistakes are usually where the magic happens,” she tells Thrive. Crisp has stopped searching for validation, and now dedicates her energy to being grateful for the things she can control, a practice she hopes to pass on to her son one day.  

In her Thrive Questionnaire, Crisp shares how motherhood has reconnected her with her optimism – and disconnected her from her phone screen.

Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?

Chelsey Crisp: I have a 10 month old son, so right now, I start my day when he does. My husband gets him out of the crib and brings him into our bed for a family snuggle. I never enjoyed mornings before!

TG: What gives you energy?

CC: Sleep. Having a baby made me painfully aware of how seriously sleep-deprivation affects the body. Now that he’s sleeping through the night, I’m as religious about adult bedtime as I am about my son’s. 

TG: What’s your secret life hack?

CC: Water, water, water. I carry a tumbler of water in my hand all day long. 

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?

CC: This is another area of my life that’s changing with motherhood. I don’t want to miss moments with my son, and the phone is a time-suck if I’m not careful. I’m by no means perfect, but I put it down a lot more than I used to. 

TG: What causes you stress?

CC: My stress tends to be related to work and/or to-do lists. I’ve found over the years that I have to shut things down at a certain time every night, or I’ll work until I go to bed. I’ve really liked how that’s working for me and my family. 

TG: A major part of your career involves auditioning. Has auditioning taught you anything about rejection?

CC: Definitely. As a young actor, it can feel quite personal when you don’t get the job. But it didn’t take me long to realize that casting is more about putting a big puzzle together than any one person’s talent. Once I understood that, I could let go and enjoy auditions more. Like everything else in life, the less you make it about you, the better off you’ll be. 

TG: What are some of the signs that you know you are feeling anxious or stressed?

CC: Mounting stress is pretty clear for me – I start to feel overwhelmed and like I’m letting people down. I get that “can’t-do-it-all” feeling and the tears creep up. 

TG: What are the small steps you do to make sure you don’t reach that boiling point? 

CC: If I’m already down the path and feel the pressure building, I take a deep breath, clear everything off my plate that I can, and let the emotion pass. I remind myself that most of the time, I’m capable of high productivity, but every now and again, I’ve got to push pause and let things go undone. As far as getting out ahead of it, I practice saying no. I simply can’t take on everything I want to, so I say a lot more no’s now than I used to. 

TG: What are your favorite things to do to practice self-care?

CC: I love a hot bath, a good book, and a glass of wine. Like most women, I have a tendency not to carve out time for those things. My husband is wonderful about reminding me to do it. 

TG: Name a book that changed your life. 

CC: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey. The primary thesis of the book is about living life in accordance with one’s values, rather than blindly pursuing validation. I read it in my early twenties and it was a message I really needed to hear. I revisit it every couple of years. 

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?

CC: Last year, I was pregnant with my son, renovating a house, working on Fresh Off the Boat and caring for my ailing father. It was a truly life-altering time, and it reframed for me what real stress is. I honestly still don’t quite know how we got through each day, but with the help of family and friends, we did. Because of that experience, I try not to throw the word “stress” around anymore.

TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it? 

CC: I’m pretty zen about failure, to be honest. I’m ok with slipping up and making mistakes. Having a background in improv, I found that mistakes are usually where the magic happens. If I can pass one thing on to my son, I hope it’s that. 

TG: How do you prioritize when you have an overwhelming amount to do?

CC: I start with the thing that’s stressing me out the most. When that’s done, I reward myself in a small way – a walk, a cup of tea, a call to a friend. Then I move on to the next thing. 

TG: When you notice you’re getting too stressed, what do you do to course correct?

CC: Delegate, delegate, delegate. I ask for help in every area that I can. And if it’s just an internal pressure I feel – which many times it is – I put my phone down, close my computer, and play with my son. 

TG: How do you reframe negative thinking?

CC: Gratitude. Being thankful for the things we have is much kinder to ourselves than worrying about what we don’t. I even do this with the concept of stress itself. For example, sometimes I wish I was a more laidback person, and I didn’t feel stressed out. But if I reframe that into gratitude that I’m the person who gets a lot done, I immediately feel better. 

TG: What brings you optimism?

CC: Being a mom has reconnected me with my optimism. Adulthood can be such a grind, can’t it? It’s wonderful to see a child explore the world and experience everything for the first time. It reminds me of so many simple, little things – for example, the way he looks at a book is magical.

TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.

CC: “There’s power in looking silly and not caring that you do.” – Amy Poehler. 

—Interview by Lindsey Benoit O’Connell

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