“Success comes in waves. The movie industry is very competitive, and if you’re like me and you suffer from your own insecurities about whether or not you’re any good, that can be troubling. I became very angry at one point and I had to step away for a year. You can know your own strengths, but until you solidify them with actual evidence you’re never fully confident” – Guy Pearce.
Guy Pearce seems to have climbed into my mind, heard what I’ve been thinking about lately and articulated a perfect summary of it for a newspaper. What a clever Guy (sorry, it gets better!).
How acting made me angry
Despite being an actress at the bottom of the ladder compared to Mr Pearce’s A-List status, we have a few things in common.
I found the acting profession extremely competitive, frustrating and unfair, and I got really angry with it and really bitter. In the end I too decided that acting and I shouldn’t hang out with each other for a while, it just wasn’t doing me any good: the 98% of the job that wasn’t actual performing, that is.
I had become someone who saw ‘luck’ as a rare and precious commodity, which time after time passed me by. Sometimes it fell upon people with little acting training, experience and even little talent, and so I started to see my own training, experience and talent as meaningless. I had come to believe that ‘who you know’ was infinitely more important, and I didn’t know anybody. I resented other actors, even those who were my friends, who had family wealth behind them and thus didn’t need a 9-5 job as I did. Finally I was jealous of those who got more acting jobs than me. You see? Many negative qualities.
Once I stepped away I felt a tremendous amount of confusion because I had wanted to be an actress my entire life. If I wasn’t going to pursue it, what the hell should I do with my life?
I have to do something, I have to make my mark somehow.
Which led me to realise something rather huge: recognition is really important to me. What I have really dreamt of my entire life, is that my peers would one day give me a pat on the back and say ‘you are good at this, well done!’. I daydream about being on the stage or winning an award or seeing my published book in a window display – and my daydream is not about the process or the craft, its seeing my family and friends looking up at me with pride. Proving to them that I am worth something and could do something worthwhile. In my daydream, people respect me.
In reality my family and friends would, I’m sure, tell me they are proud of me already. They do tell me I’m good at things. I hear them but its as though I need a bigger acknowledgement: I want the world to know and I want my family and friends to see that the world knows.
Which makes me ask myself – who was I really trying to act for? And who am I really trying to succeed for?
And here is the monumental truth. I do not respect myself. I do not recognise myself. I do not reward myself. If I did, then I would not long so desperately for external acceptance.
Confidence, when you have yet to see any success, is hard
Guy puts it so well: “You can know your own strengths, but until you solidify them with actual evidence you’re never fully confident”.
Trying to press ahead, in anything, without any evidence that you’re on the right track is extremely hard. Sometimes other people don’t get that, particularly when self-confidence is not an issue for them.
Just a little nod that you’re on the right path can make all the difference in the world.
Having tried at acting (I force myself to say ‘tried’ rather than the more self-indulgent ‘failed’), I decided to give writing a shot. I have written a number of stories, plays and a third of a novel, all of which I have submitted for a number of competitions and never won any. I know this is the experience of the majority of writers and those who have succeeded did so by persevering. I know the chances of winning are slim with so much competition out there. I know I’m too quick to take rejection to heart, and too quick to assume I am not good enough. But I have not touched my novel for about 6 months. As with acting, I sort of feel ‘what’s the point?’.
How to move forwards
Notice how much I said ‘I know….but’ there? I feel like logic is on one side of the river and I’m on the other side of the river, and I can’t find the bridge that connects the two! It’s so frustrating!
And yet, you could also argue, I talk myself out of feeling confident, so that I remain in my comfort zone. I have all these reasons at my disposal that excuse me from digging deep and carrying on. And the reason for that is, my norm is feeling unworthy and not good enough – as long as I maintain that environment within myself, then all is right with the world.
Except it so isn’t!!
So here I am. I do not have my own acceptance. I do not have my own permission to be confident. I do not have my own power. I’ve given it away to everybody else.
Now I know this, I have already started on the path to changing it.
I am my own barrier. But I am also my own bridge.