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Reckless Thoughts and their Remedies

July 2, 2013

We all have bad days. With any luck, those bad days are overshadowed and spaced out by hundreds of good days. But when the less than wonderful days get you thinking less than appealing thought, you need to work through them in a productive and healthy way. Ever found yourself blurting out one or more of the following?

1.) “I am never going to get any good work.”

a. First of all, what is “good” work? You must decide for yourself what this means to you. Don’t let others decide for you and don’t relentlessly compare yourself to what others are doing (See my previous post “Broadway or Bust…Or Not”). Then ask yourself: “Have I landed “good” work in the past? If the answer is yes, stop doing this to yourself!! Your constant worry and self-defeating attitude will do little to help your future. ALL actors go through different chapters of life with ups and downs. Go back and look at all your successes, then look ahead and make proactive use of your time by engaging in activities that will benefit your career and/or other areas of life. Take this time to appreciate having a free day for once! Spend time with family, workout, go somewhere fun, do NOTHING all day, catch up on rest, take a class, etc. Don’t forget to take advantage of this free time to look up auditions, network with those around you, and work on that reel you’ve been meaning to get to.

If the answer really is yes, and you’re starting to doubt your chosen field, perhaps you’re doing something wrong. No, I don’t mean you chose the wrong profession, I mean you may be going about this profession the wrong way. Audition more often, talk to others with more experience, train more, find an agent, take ANY steps to improve your career. Make lists of goals and track your progress. Busy yourself with ways to improve and things that make you happy rather than thoughts of failure and struggle. Set time limits along with your goals and if you continue to meet with difficulties, look for other ways to make this field work for you. You love serious acting but cant seem to land the roles you want? Maybe you’re a character actor auditioning for the wrong parts. Don’t limit yourself to one thing, branch out and see what’s in store for you!

2.) “I have SO much to do and no time, I’ll never get everything done!”

a. If you have time to complain to people about your lack of time, then you have time. Use every spare minute! Make cd’s of music you have to learn and listen to them in the car, memorize lines in waiting rooms, search auditions while eating lunch. Multitask and plan every day out. Get up earlier. Turn off your facebook for a few months (I did it, my free time has tripled). Use the reward system (Ex. I’m not getting my morning coffee until I’m off book for scene one.) Don’t cut back on quality time with your with your significant other or making it home to see your parents every other weekend…you need that. Cut back on television and internet. Make a list of everything you need to do in the next week and schedule it out, assigning different tasks to different days. Make it work. Failure is not an option, skipping the audition is not an option, calling “line” eight times at rehearsal is not an option. You’ve been busy before and you’ve always survived. Now take a deep breath and go check off your to-do list.

3.) “I’m switching careers, this is killing me.”

a. Do it. Yup, I say do it. I don’t mean give up. I just mean follow your heart. If this career is truly making you unhappy, try something else. There is no too late or too old to try a different path or to come back to this one after you do so. There are no rules to follow in this career that equal success. Do what you need to do. However, do leave yourself with options to get back into the theatrical life in case this “switching careers” is just a phase. Tell your agent you need a few months off but you’d love to stay on the books, stay in your once a week dance class so you don’t completely lose your technique, and keep an eye out for that once in a lifetime audition that may just get you back in the game.

Is this an exaggerated overstatement after a long streak of rejections or a weekend of awful reviews? If so, as stated previously: take a day to review your successes, watch videos of shows you did well in, read positive reviews, what the heck…go look at that award you won at a college theatre festival. Anything to keep you positive! Surround yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself. Maybe the Shakespeare play you’ve been doing is getting a bit old and you just want to get back to some good ‘ol musicals…but this show has got three more weekends before closing. Go to a karaoke night and sing all your favorite musicals with friends or take a musical theatre jazz class and remind yourself what you love about this career! If this career is getting the better of you but you know this is what you’re meant to do, then keep persisting. But perhaps don’t focus your entire life on it. Make sure you have other hobbies you enjoy, people who make you feel worthwhile, faith in a higher power, anything to keep this career from having complete control over your emotions…there is more to the world than just theatre. I promise.

4.) “I’m moving to away to chase my dream.”

a. Why not? I’ve lived and worked on three continents now and vehemently believe it has been the most fulfilling, life altering, recklessly beautiful adventure of my life that left me well-rounded and more experienced. If that’s where you feel your chances for success and happiness lie, then what’s stopping you? Money? You can find work anywhere, it may not be exactly what you want, but money shouldn’t be your biggest inhibition. Leaving loved ones? Those who truly love you, will believe in you and support you in any endeavor…also they have these awesome things now called planes. Too frightened of the unknown? Then stop reading posts by the “reckless” artist…there is no happiness for you here. You have one life to live. Go for what you want. If you get there and it doesn’t work out, come home. It’s not a fail, it was an experience you will never have to regret not taking.

5.) “My family is never going to accept or approve of this life.”

a. I cannot predict what anyone will think about the catastrophic career decision of choosing the artistic life. I do however, feel that regardless of what you do for a living, if you are confident and proud of what you produce, hard-working and tenacious in your process, and visibly happy with the outcome, others will respond to that. Let them talk about your risky decisions, let them preach about job security. At the end of the day, someone with a nice house and lots of money who is unhappy 40 hours of the week is still going to validate that you are not as well off or unsure of what you’re going to do when your show closes, but you cant wait to get to work and you are genuinely elated with the fact that you get to “play” for a living. More importantly, don’t rely on the validation of others. There will always be people questioning you no matter what job you choose, but you are the one who has to live this life, so pick the career that satisfies YOU.

6.) “There’s no way I’m getting this role so there’s no point in auditioning.”

a. If you have something else compelling to do that day, by all means, skip the audition that you think has a solid unlikely outcome. Wait…you’re free and you are just frightening yourself out of an opportunity because you think you lack the talent, you’re one of hundreds auditioning, or because you’re too short? I know you’ve heard it, it may sound cliché, but if you never go, you’re sure to fail. If you do go, perhaps you don get the part but your no worse off. Focus on any benefit of going to the audition even if you don’t land the part. You got your name out there and your resume on the director’s radar. You heard some other great audition songs your now going to add to your audition binder. You got more auditioning experience. You got out of the house and did something to progress your career!

If there is “no point” in going to the audition, there is no point in staying in this career. Repetitive audition failure is in our job description. Learn to deal with it and stop inhibiting yourself. Some of my biggest successes have come out of auditions I didn’t think I had a chance at, auditions I almost missed because I had a late night and almost slept in, auditions I almost left because 300 other people were ahead of me. You never know if you don’t try.

7.) “Every body else is…”

a. Stop right there. Comparison is not a healthy solution. Exaggeration is never proactive. Never mind “every body else”…what’s going on with you?

8.) “I don’t know what to do with my life!”

a. Enjoy it. Don’t waste it. Stop stressing over it. Realize that its ok not to know…

It’s ok to have awful days. Work through them. Learn from them for the future. Use that emotion in your work. It is OK to think Reckless thoughts, it is OK to act Recklessly, it is OK to take life one step at a time and live Recklessly.

Any other reckless thoughts that you readers have? How do you remedy them?

The Reckless Artist sig

One Comment leave one →
  1. The Growing Artist permalink
    July 3, 2013 10:45 pm

    Very inspiring post! I think we are all guilty of reckless thoughts- and I love your ways of tackling them!

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