I really don’t like delving into such matters
I am not a therapist
I am not a psychoanalyst
…n o t a d o c t o r!
But I see so many people in the class ( even seasoned professionals) suffer needlessly.
Again, not a doctor, just an acting coach; As an acting coach I sometimes have to point at the elephant in the room, but I do so carefully, I will point at the majestic pachyderm from the standpoint of an artist. How do we eat our own dumbo? why thank you for asking, Bit by bit, with a grain of salt, and lots of water, so stay with me.
Artists, training, and failing self-confidence.
I come across so many different types of artists in my line of work. Many resemble narcissists, loud, proud and mostly ignorant of their own mechanisms. Others come in timid like a house mouse; they call what they radiate “modesty.”
In both cases, what I see when I look beyond that first impression is self-confidence issues. They are compensating with big words and grand self-descriptions or with timid voices echoing from the shadows.
I love them anyway.
I love actors, period. Yeah, even the megalomaniacal ones.
In my mind, this game -the game of being an artist- and precisely that of being an actor is a “know thy self” game.
But I am not in the business like some teachers or directors out there, of “crushing” egos or of tearing you down and building you back up again. There is nothing wrong with you, to begin with, that’s why you don’t need to adopt a mask. But What I am In the business of is actually letting you know that what you are doing is not serving you, and if you don’t do something about it, you will keep on getting the same results. Results you don’t like.
As you can tell by tiptoeing sounds, these issues are sensitive; this is not an acting technique or an acting class, this is self-management 101 as an artist, and it is a big deal.
I made a choice to talk about self-confidence, but I am not going to even speculate or ask what the source of your diminished self-confidence is. Mind you, I am not indifferent; I just believe that such issues are the job of a therapist.
But you can do so many things as an artist, right now to boost your confidence in a class. yes , as you are right now, without necessarily ruminating about the past, proooobably until you have to(again, you have to go to a specialist for that). So here it goes.
What really happens to an artist with no real self-confidence? again, real self confidence not that fake egomaniacal mask. Well, the first thing I see is that their work is covered with a blanket of superficiality.
Usually relying on their first concept or idea, they are afraid to deepen their work. They think small, and sometimes even act small, which is not necessarily a bad thing if that is not the only thing you do.
Some actors will never give their 100%; it’s a nice trick. They usually go 60%, and if they get a good critique, they think, “Hey, imagine if I gave it my 100%”, if they get a comment they don’t like, they dismiss it by thinking, “well, yeah, I was not going 100%.” A great trick indeed; But a devastating scheme for your progress and your confidence!
Essentially it is a hiding trick!
Another issue is avoidance. They avoid everything, training, class, projects, even reading; they usually dub them unnecessary or just beneath them. But when you really look at what they are doing, you start noticing a pattern based on doubt, fear of failure, and worry of being discovered as frauds.
Again Beware, there is a difference between the self-confidence I am defending and self-esteem or ego that can permiate a class and ruin everybody.
But what can you be confident about in a class?
Well, first and foremost, you being you.
YOU ARE A HUMAN BEING.
But your humanness doesn’t have to be celebratedNo, no boasting is necessary; it is just a simple fact…you are human. Again no grandiosity, just a beautiful, fallible, human being.
A human being, I hear you ask? But I am …
What are you human?:
Is that your title? Forget about it. Calm down. Climb down and let the horse go or just get out of the shadows. No bragging and no dragging feet; you don’t need a title; just let the sun hit you; all you need is artistic vitamin D!
Know what you know, and know what you don’t know
Yes, a technique might be new (find the article “ How does one approach a new technique”), but you are not a beginner in life; you already know how to live. Use what you already know and let that inform what you are learning. There are no stand-alone experiences; bring that knowledge you already have in your effort. This step will calm you down, you don’t have to prove anything we already know you are alive, my wonderful zombie!
Accept a neophyte status even if you are not!
Approach everything with the curiosity of the undiscovered and the awe of the beginner. I am not suggesting you forget all you know (I am not daft I literally just told you to bring with you life). Instead, cultivate the enthusiasm of the person that doesn’t know, PRETEND and you will transform mistakes into learning opportunities. Be lost and lose yourself. Accept and adjust. Make a mess!
know that learning is an art form on its own.
Don’t let learning become arduous; learning can be fun, especially when you understand that there are curves; when you know where you are on the map of learning, nothing will deter you or put out the flame of your enthusiasm. A learning curve, in the beginning, goes up fast, then a Plateau comes, everything stands still and stagnant, and then? Well, most people believe that it will go straight up again, but that is not the case; after a plateau, things do go downhill for a bit, right before they go back up again. Most people don’t anticipate that, so when they feel the falling after the plateau, they parachute out.
Make bold new choices!
Don’t just go the same old route, do something bold and new, fall flat on your face, don’t second guess it; it’s time to be creative, not to preserve. You will not only find new ways and new directions but new confidence.
investigate fears and anxieties!
Hey, some fears are real. I am not a friend of new-age saying F.E.A.R (FALSE EVIDENCE APPEARING REAL) pfff…fuck that. Fears and anxieties are worth our time. They are ours, Own them! They are worth investigating, and maybe they can become food and inspiration for our work.
Don’t just reject things; find out why! Why don’t you like that type of play? or that type of directing? that technique or exercise? or that type of actor? Sometimes understanding a dislike can open new doors, and new doors are always confidence boosters!
Know that there is no one way of doing things AND BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF.
always with love and respect
Copyright 2022 Kimon Fioretos, All Rights Reserved.