“The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.” – Mark Twain
I was not a confident child. Initially my parents sent me off to our local drama class to try and help me along with my confidence issues and to give me a little self-worth. My parents were absolutely correct. Acting did not just give me comfort and confidence as a child, but it has gone on to teach me about myself and led me to some of the most important discoveries of self-acceptance that I have ever made.
Acting has stuck with me to the point that it is now my primary source of my income. The art has seen me though some of the trickiest and most triumphant moments in my life, and it both informs my resilience and requires it. The exposure, the tightrope of potential failure in front of an audience; to survive you have to trust yourself and know exactly who you are. This goes for any performance, and I strongly recommend it as part of your life! Here are a few things I have learnt over the years…
Where Is Square One?
Being great at acting really requires you to know exactly who you are. You, as a person, are the foundation to every character you play. In order to build that character, you need to know what makes up the foundation you are building on, and you have to work with both its faults and strengths. There isn’t much we can do to change the essence of who we are, so, if you are really passionate about creating strong characters, then you has better get comfortable in that skin of yours!
Being in The Body
In order to walk like someone else, talk like someone else, fully transform into someone else, you have to be fully aware of your body. When I was training, we spent a lot of time focusing on being in the body. Indeed, once you are on stage in front of an audience, judging and second guessing yourself is a road to ruin! You must trust entirely that you have prepared appropriately and must live every moment in the moment. You have to know your body, know its limits, and be prepared to work with them without judgement.
Nobody Pays to See Failure
There can be a sense, when going out on stage, that the audience are looking for pitfalls in your performance. This is what I used to think as a child. However, this is not the case. I don’t know about you, but every film, play or musical I go to see, I want to enjoy. Audiences are supportive, whoever you are. When you feel this support from the audience, it liberates you, and helps you to feel that you are excellent just the way you are.
Doubt Has an Aroma
Self-doubt is surprisingly easy to read. You have to trust yourself and your own skills implicitly and have fait in your own ability. I have had the privilege, on occasion, to be on the judging panel in an audition. If somebody comes into the room, or walks onto the stage apologetically, then you can tell that they do not their ability in a matter of seconds. Have you ever noticed this when someone has walked into a room? Doubt fills you up. To be resilient, and to remain successful as an actor, acceptance of the self is important in order to eliminate doubt.
What Are You Selling?
When you are going for an acting job, you need to know exactly what you are bringing to the party! You also need to be aware and accepting of your weaknesses. Employers don’t like to see you lamenting what you can’t do, but celebrating what you can, and demonstrating it to your full potential. You need to know who you are, what skills you are selling and why they should buy them.
So many of these lessons and situations are present in everyday life. You do not have to make Acting your career to feel its benefits. Indeed, adult classes for all kinds of performance are rife throughout the country! So, if you are feeling down, out of place or under-confident in yourself, give something a go. Act, dance, sing, improvise, try stand up or take up a sport… you will be amazed at how the leap of faith required to put yourself out there will empower you to be happy with you!
By Chris Thomson
Knowing the self is also an important part of acting… and everyday life actually! Self-Reflection: Are You Honest With Yourself
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