I walked by a house the other day that still had its Christmas lights up. I get it, those perpetually tangled strings are a complete pain in the butt to put up and take down every year.
But this house also had a giant snowman on the front porch, surrounded by fake presents and oversized ornaments. I didn’t see a garage, which means the owners walk by these decorations every day.
And every day, they choose NOT to take them down.
It’s all about choices.
And just like the owners of that house, you’re making choices every second of every single day.
It’s a bit heady to think of your acting career unfolding in a series of snap decisions, isn’t it?
And daunting too. Because you’re plagued by the “what if I don’t do this” opportunities which means you’re living in a constant state of fear. Or really, FOMO.
And do you know what actors say is the biggest challenge they face when it comes to their careers?
It’s fear. And more specifically, the fear of not being enough.
So those actors throw themselves into being “sooooo busy” so they don’t have to think about their perceived shortcomings. And because they believe action - any action - will supplant that hole in their psyche.
The problem, then, is that action becomes a fear-based crutch that makes you feel like you’re getting closer to your goals. You’re doing stuff! You’re making it happen! Right?
But what if you’re getting so caught up in the busy-ness of the business that you lose sight of the only thing that really matters?
You. And more importantly, how you feel about yourself.
Because, you know that booking the job is just the surprising chocolate ganache center in an already glorious cupcake, right? The real win happens when you’re proud of the job you do in the room. Because that’s all you can control.
Focus on being comfortable just being you. Especially in the quiet spaces.
This dream you’re tackling? It was a little spark that you said yes to. You’re taking a shot at an industry that everyone warned you about.
There are a lot of people who wish they could take a chance on themselves. But you’re freaking doing it which makes me think you can believe in yourself, after all.
Taking action for your career is critical, but stop taking action to fill the void of just being.
You’re in this career for the long haul, right? So take a long-term approach and maybe put blinders on every once in a while. Be prepared to make deliberate and potentially 'unpopular' choices as long as they move the needle, and ring true, for you.
It’s time to take stock. Here's what I want you to do:
Make a list of all the things you’re doing for your career.
Divide your list into 3 categories: “I love it!”, “I should do it” and “I dread it”
Throw out everything on the “I dread it” list. Why bother? You’ve heard the “If you’re not having fun, we’re not having fun” thing, right. It’s like that. Plus, you’re an actor; We can see the truth in your eyes anyway.
RECOGNIZE THE MAGIC
I think this is obvious, but if something lights you up inside and feels like a gift, keep doing it. Always keep doing it.
Look at everything else on your list and decide what’s actually moving you closer to your goals and what just feels like filler. Then start ripping down those burned out Christmas lights on your list, one by one.
Going forward, protect your choices. Practice saying no to anything that doesn’t feel like soul-warming ramen on a winter’s day.
Maybe pretend it’s some kind of radical experiment to free up more space for the “yes’s” and the “you booked its”.
And no matter what happens, never forget that you’re one of the lucky ones who dares to dream in the first place.
This article was originally published on Backstage.