17 May Self-Worth Defined: Tales From a 34-Year Old Acting Student (Act 1, Scene 3)
As I’ve shared with you in posts past, I have recently taken up theatre arts in pursuit of engaging in activities other than work. As magical as a profession in self-help is, I just had to get out of the house. In Scene 1 and Scene 2, I shared with you the tumult involved in two acting auditions… which opened up an entirely new world of gremlins for this little life coach.
(Maybe I should have titled this series, “So… You Think You’ve Got Confidence”.)
As the Universe would have it, Scene 3 begins with me getting a very unexpected call from my acting professor. Over a week has passed since I received the news that I was not cast in the play, and I had done my self-growth due diligence: allowed space for mourning, followed by a personal pep-talk, and I had moved on. Truly. Oh, but things were far from over. And my growth had only just begun.
As I dial to return the missed call, my mind begins to wonder. Hmmm. What could this be about? He answers. He fills me in on some drama (pun intended) that had befallen the production. Due to some unforeseen scheduling issues, many of the roles were being re-arranged and re-cast.
Ok, I’m listening.
And they would like to offer me a role.
Ok, wow. Awesome, right? Well…
So, when I had originally auditioned, I read for two lovely, inside-my-box type of roles. A wife character and a secretary character. But is that what they need me for? Of course, not. I am informed that they would like me to play a rapper. Yeah. Just let that sink in for a second. And not just any rapper. A gun-totin’, wannabe, inarticulate, foul-mouthed, loser rapper. Who was orginially supposed to be played by a male. And most certainly someone not Caucasian.
Ok. So… I’m a 34-year old, Irish, life coach. So, yeah… I’ll do it. I’m perfect for it. Right? I mean, this is what acting is about, right? Pushing yourself. Becoming someone you aren’t. Right?
[One of These Things is Not Like the Others plays in the background]
I begin rehearsals. We have about three weeks until we open. And I have two raps I need to nail. I could probably write an entire other series on just the rehearsal process. It was not the easiest thing I’ve done. That’s for damn sure.
I do everything I’ve been taught. I create a backstory for my character. I get connected to her plight. I make sure I have all my lines. I show up on time. I’m prepared. And yet, I still get my ass handed to me. We get chewed out a multitude of times. I even left rehearsal bawling my eyes out once. This fierce Joy Junkie is actually a big softy at heart, if you can’t tell. It started dawning on me… I am pretty much NEVER around negative energy. I have created a life where I fuel myself with positive self-talk and people and environments that support that stance. It was a whole different thing altogether to hear negative feedback as a constant.
But, my skin begins to thicken. I work on letting go. Here was a huge opportunity for me to walk my talk of not caring what others think of me. My barometer is pride in SELF. And it has been for a long time. And it was being tested. I have always felt that if I can conduct myself in such a way that I am proud of ME, then my job is done. That’s all I really have control over. How I am perceived, accepted, rejected is really not any of my business. But, damn, this situation was really challenging that belief.
I wanted to be liked. I wanted accolades. I wanted my director to like what I did. I wanted to be funny.
Here I was, yet again, learning the lessons I teach others… lessons I thought I already had mastered. Laugh. Out. Fucking. Loud. So, I started seeing where I could grow. I allowed myself to want what I wanted. I allowed myself the freedom to desire recognition. To want applause and approval. BUT… I would NOT let myself tie my self-worth to that recognition or approval. If it came, it would be a gift. Not something that defined my worthiness. And this was the perfect opportunity to really LIVE that belief.
Opening night arrives. It’s nothing short of amazing. Thrilling. I’m on fire. The entire cast is. The audience is amazing. They’re laughing. I’m really doing this. Damn, it feels good.
But you know what? Even if it wasn’t good… even if no one laughed… even if I forgot my lines, I would still be worthy. I would still be amazing. Why? Because the kind feedback was a GIFT. It didn’t define me. It didn’t create my worth. I’m in charge of that. No one else. And nothing outside of me.
So, the lesson is this: Allow space for all of your desires. Want what you want. But create a definition of self-worth that only involves YOU accepting YOU. Define success as you being proud of YOU… not everyone else being proud of you. Or being accepted. If you need space to mourn rejection, then do so.
But recognize that only YOU have the power to determine your self-worth.
So make it good. And make it count.