Acting is one of the strangest vocations you can choose; like many occupations, it involves selling a product. However, in an actor’s case that product … is you.
Time and time again you walk into a room in order to prove how just special you are, yet, moments before you were seated in a waiting area with 20 other girls who look remarkably like you.
Most days, the audition process ends in defeat. This can doubly sting because no matter how you slice it, it feels as if you’ve been rejected. After almost 13 years of this, I cannot pretend at times that it hasn’t beaten me down, but it has also forced me to figure out tools to manage a dream mostly deferred.
Here are a few ways we can better develop our confidence in going after our goals, no matter what career path we’re running along:
Find A Confidant
Most of us process experiences through talking it out. To the untrained eye it may seem as if we’re going in circles, but this is actually our way of learning how we feel. Confidants look different to each person: It may be a friend, a partner or a professional. Processing rejection is the first and ultimately, the most crucial step in lessening its sting.
A couple of years ago I had a small recurring role on a TV show. I was midway through my pregnancy and just starting to show. I was watching other actors in a scene — admittedly, feeling sorry for myself that it’d taken over 10 years just to get to this point — when a Stand-In walked up. She looked at my hand on my belly and said, “Wow you’re married, pregnant and have a recurring role on a Network show. You’re, like, living my dream.” I was immediately reminded of the quote: The things you take for granted, someone else is praying for. Humbled. Times a hundred.
Processing rejection is the first and ultimately, the most crucial step in lessening its sting.
Learn Your Triggers
Triggers are situations or experiences that cause you to spiral down the “feeling less than” path. It’s so important to track little things and check in with yourself, noting when certain behaviors make you feel small. I learned reading the trades (entertainment magazines that report who’s just been casted in what) did me no good. Rejection comes in all forms; sometimes it’s trying and not getting it, and sometimes it’s not even being given the ability to try. Reading the trades just re-enforced a feeling of failure that wasn’t productive or healthy. Your triggers could be social media, bridal magazines or the trades, but ultimately by avoiding our triggers, we protect our hearts.
Seek Out Mentors
Many times it can feel as if you’re the only one without _____, but the reality is that’ just not the case. It’s important to know that, while your heartbreak is unique to you, there are those who have gone before and can relay hope. Sometimes mentorship looks like lunch with a wise friend and sometimes it’s searching out other women who’ve had heartbreak very different than my own and learning from them. My current favorite is Laura Sobiech’s Fly A Little Higher.
Much of acting is waiting for someone to say “Yes.” That lack of control is really frustrating and can leave you creatively dry. There’s always the proverbial “Let’s put on a show!” but it could also be starting a blog, learning to knit, or cooking. Giving yourself something that is on your own timetable is a great tool in managing the day to day.
Everyone, no matter what your stage of discouragement might be, has something to offer.
It’s Not About Me
Which, in fact, can be a confusing thought since much of your dream probably involves you. But life, and therefore our dreams, will never really fulfill us if we’re constantly making it about us. Everyone, no matter what your stage of discouragement might be, has something to offer. Maybe its spending time with the elderly, making care packages for soldiers or becoming a Big Sister. Taking a break from “you” is one of the most life giving choices we can make.
Let It Change You
Constant rejection will change anyone, no matter how much we reassure ourselves it won’t. By committing to push into the heartbreak; the “No’s” will grow you. Learning to get through rejection brings strength, of course, but being honest opens you up to a new awareness of yourself and others. While some may opt for toughness, I believe — if we let it — that strength and awareness can also create a deep compassion. The pain can give way to a purpose: the ability to see someone else’s heart, and stand alongside them if it breaks.
How do you deal with rejection? Which of these ways might you need to try?
Image via Martha Galvan