As performers, it’s easy to doubt ourselves and question if we’re enough but forming new habits and thought patterns can help us recognise our self-worth.
When you relieve yourself from the expectations and pressures of acting, enjoyment can become the focus once more
When you begin your career as an actor, the highs and lows that come with the territory are somewhat unknown. Often the dream to become one of the well-known actors you watch daily on Netflix is the predominant thought as you begin life as a freelancer. The knowledge that you have beaten thousands of aspiring actors to earn your place at drama school, or with your agent, supplies you with a starter pack filled with self-worth and confidence.
However, as the experience of frequent rejection and disappointment ensues, these important qualities in your actor’s survival kit can very quickly be replaced by self-doubt and a loss of confidence, which in turn can lead you to question if you personally are enough within your career and personal life.
From my experience, I believe this transformation has a lot to do with the inescapable fact that as an actor your product is you. Unlike a painter who can find some protection behind a canvas, when you audition for a role or perform a part, you put yourself personally on the line to be judged, critiqued and often rejected. Over time, this repetitive sequence can have a negative impact on the human-being within you, as well as the actor.
Where casting can detach the actor from the role, and audiences can detach the character from the actor, it is a great deal harder for your human-being within to separate itself from your ‘product’. Your product and you are interchangeable as the same emotions, heartbeats and breaths bring life to both so when disappointment arises, you may begin to question your place, worth and existence within the industry, and in turn, other areas of your life.
The doubting question ‘am I good enough?’ can become a subconscious mantra for before and after each audition, and if it is decided that you aren’t quite right for the part, what is often heard is, ‘you’re not good enough’ when it could have simply been down to something as small as hair colour.
What was an unjustified question somehow becomes a cemented and justified truth. This newfound ‘fact’ leads you to question your chosen profession, the life choices you have made, and comparisons start between yourself and others in the industry and beyond. This can deplete one’s confidence so much that even the thought of socialising becomes undesirable as you imagine how you will answer those inevitable questions about your career trajectory.
This cycle is something I have seen and heard of many times over the years, in a variety of industries, which has highlighted that we often measure our self-worth and happiness on how well we are doing in our chosen careers. ‘Am I good enough?’ can very easily become ‘am I enough?’ so how can we rectify this harmful self-interrogation to form a more consistent and content view of our careers and selves as a whole?
Recognising that you feel happiest when you are acting is a wonderful thing because it confirms that you are in the right profession
If you have recognised any of what has been written so far then you are already on your way to remedying this imbalance. The first step to change is acknowledgement. And with this, you can begin to form new habits and thought patterns to veer away from the idea that who you are and your self-worth is determined by your accomplishments.
Recognising that you feel happiest when you are acting is a wonderful thing because it confirms that you are in the right profession. Perhaps make a note in a pocketbook when you are riding the positive wave so that if disappointment occurs, you have something physical to remind yourself of why you do what you do. Then, if you hear those negative thoughts trying to persuade you that you aren’t good enough, find your own way to kindly tell them you’re no longer listening.
In the words of Dhiman, “the most beautiful thing about life is that no matter what happened to you in the past, you can always begin again.” Take each opportunity as a chance to begin again, with no expectations, and re-discover the joy in each moment as what it is: a moment. This practice can help you begin the process of detaching your human-being from your actor, which in hand will make space for you to notice what other activities also bring you happiness alongside it.
When you relieve yourself from the expectations and pressures of acting, enjoyment can become the focus once more and as a result, your confidence, happiness and self-worth will inevitably grow and you will no longer need to ask yourself, in any capacity, am I enough?
Lotti Sofia has worked in the entertainment industry for the last ten years in a variety of roles. She started as an actor, then worked for Hamilton Hodell acting agency for two and a half years before moving into the world of casting. In 2019 she packed a rucksack and travelled for the year. She trained as a yoga instructor in India alongside writing for The Authentic Project and returned to London with a rediscovered love of writing and photography. If you are thinking of getting new headshots do check out her website! www.lottisofiaphotography.co.uk.
Headshot by Constance Victoria Phillips
Main image by Invading Kingdom via Unsplash