Episode 026 Suffering
Welcome back! Today's part 2 of the healthy mindset series. My goal for these 3 episodes is to get you in a more thriving mindset as audition season gets underway.
I had my first audition of the season and when you are away from auditioning you can forget how hectic it can all be. Getting up early, lugging your stuff around, for me I pack 1-2 meals with me. It all becomes very crazy, very quickly.
With all that we need to physically prepare (song/monologue, outfit, headshots, etc.), we also can't forget to prepare our minds.
Between crowded rooms, long waiting times, and someone else singing your song, if you don't go in with a healthy and clear mind you are dead before you even start.
In part 2 of 3 we are talking about suffering . My question to you is how is a suffering actor supposed to thrive?
To me suffering for the sake of being an artist makes absolutely no sense. We need to be healed beings in order to share stories on stage. WE have all heard the tragic stories of celebrities who are in rehab or dead and we say to ourselves "Wow! I had no idea" or "I never even knew he/she had that the whole time." It's incredibly difficult to have a thriving, fulfilling, and lasting career when you are still suffering.
I want to break this down in a few different ways.
Let's get much more simple with this idea and talk about suffering in your side job. So many performers I know hate their side job, are miserable going to it, and yet still continue to keep their job. And you know what? I was one of those people.
When I first moved to NYC I was working as a serve in Times Square. That sentence alone brings back nightmares. This place had this hierarchy of senior servers who flaunted that they had the bigger sections, while new people like me, had crazy small sections. Now it was not my goal to work up the ranks here. I just needed to pay my rent and go.
I had no interest in being a senior server. I wanted that shift to be over as soon as I walked in the front door. This was a corporate run monster and I was having none of it.
I remember that I would sit on the subway platform and let 2 or 3 trains pass be by before I would get on. Then I could be late, blame it on the trains, and somebody would have already taken my shift. The secret to that was a worker should show up when they weren't scheduled and steal someone's shift if they were late. That was my golden ticket.
Here's the thing about that.
Spending all of that time dreading and hesitating and hoping to go home was a drain on my energy, really unproductive, and a total waste of time. If I enjoyed my job I would have been happy to go to work , get work done on the train (I love turning the train into my office), and had energy left for my actual career.
But at the time, I thought this is what I need to do to be an actor. I gotta work this job I hate because the hours are good, or their flexible, or whatever the excuse. But...I hated this job. HELLO I am miserable and dread going. As a result I don't have enough energy to go to class and I sleep through my audition alarms. Does that sound familiar?
Don't suffer because you think this is what you need to make it in this business. What you need in this business is a strong back bone, a well honed talent, and enough stamina to keep your head in the game. What you don't need is self-inflicting misery and suffering to keep you distracted from your abundance.
Now let's take it another step further and talk about suffering in your relationships. This is a huge one and can range from roommates to parents and everyone in between. Suffering in these relationships is doing nothing for you at all. At best some material for your next cabaret, and at worst a drain on your spirit.
Let me share another story. My previous relationship (8 or so years ago) was a toxic relationship. Of course it didn't start out that way but it absolutely ended that way. In the beginning of our relationship I was in school, working in Times Square, rehearsing, and volunteering at a yoga studio. I was super busy, building connections and trying to figure out how to live in NYC. Even through all of the crazy, we still found time to go on dates and spend time together. But I began to notice some things. On the days where I was busy he would constantly hound me about why I had to be so busy. "Why do you have to go to all these auditions? Do you really need to rehearse again? Don't go to yoga."
The constant conversation was him questioning my schedule. As soon as I graduated I booked my first job and was leaving to go out of town. While away he would always call and ask why I didn't answer, he thought what I did for a living wasn't work. Whelp, that was the finial straw. I then realized he couldn't date and actress, and I couldn't date someone who thought what I did for a living wasn't work. I knew that I could hold on to him and figure out ways to make it work or move on. I moved on.
As performers we need to surround ourselves with healthy living relationships. This business is brutal and if we don't have a solid support system it's only going to make longevity so much more difficult.
Think of all the different relationships you have. Now see which ones need to be healed and which ones need to go.
- Is your boyfriend/girlfriend jealous of the time you spend with your scene partner?
- Does you mom/dad ask you when your going to get a real job?
- Does your married friend always compliment you on how your life is so "free" and she could never imagine her life like that
Those relationships are not feeding you, they are only taking away that amazing spark that is you. Sit down and have a conversation with these people and be really clear about what you need from them. Then give them a chance to give it to you. You might be surprised at how they respond. If they can't honor what you want then you have to decide what that relationship will look like for you going forward.
Lisa Nichols said: "Sad people want you to be sad, Miserable people want you to be miserable"
Don't let those relationships steal your opportunities.
Now there is one more level of suffering that I want to touch on very quickly and that's trauma and addiction. They are very different experiences but equally as serious. Now this is not my expertise so I just want to say go get help and allow yourself to heal. So what if you need to take a break from this business. I've done it and it's okay. This business will always be here. Get help. Respect, honor and love yourself enough to get the help you need. You will be a stronger person and performer for it.
So now I am going to go back to my original question:
How is a suffering performer supposed to thrive?
As a dancer if you are distracted, tired, feeling insulted or invalid, do you really feel like you can step on stage and how your best work?
As a writer, if you are arguing with your person and working 3 jobs you hate; do you think you are going to make your deadline?
As performers and creatives you need to be wildly protective of your spirit. Throughout each day find ways to continue to feed your creativity and inspiration. Suffering does the opposite; it steals away at your capacity to inspire, to create.
If you are miserable at your job start looking for something you do love. I get it...performing is the best, but what comes second?
Are your relationships stealing from you? Have those difficult conversations and begin to build your family of love around you.
This week see if you can take action to limit or eliminate one thing you are suffering from. Clear that space for joy and inspiration.
Get to work!