I was having a chat with one of my performer friends recently and she said she’d recently had a realisation. She has become aware that she measures her happiness on how successful she is at the time. Her recent epiphany has made her realise that her measure of happiness shouldn’t be based on how “successful” she is. To be honest, I can relate to this because I definitely do this sometimes too.
I don’t mean I’m constantly unhappy whenever I’m not acting, but it does get me down, yes. However, I do know that I have a lot of other great things going on in my life that do make me extremely happy.
What makes someone successful in the performance industry?
It’s really difficult to be in the performance industry and try to shut off that switch in your head that stops you from comparing yourself to others. You know you shouldn’t do it, but you really can’t stop yourself. There has been countless times where I’ve watched someone else’s journey and thought things like “God, they’re doing so well, I wish that was me” or “I wish I was as successful as them”.
What really is success though?
Is success getting job after job and absolutely thriving? Is success nailing an audition? Is success keeping strong whilst you’re going through a dry spell? I really do think success is all of those things, it’s just the way that you look at it.
How do we measure success on a scale?
Obviously, there are different levels of success, despite what level of success you’re riding on, doesn’t mean that you’re not successful. I really do have to remind myself of this sometimes.
Being completely honest, this year has been the worst and most difficult year for me in terms of acting work. I’ve been put forward for tonnes of jobs, I’ve had loads of auditions, done heaps of self tapes and how many of those jobs have I gotten this year? None. I did do a voiceover for some students at the very start of the year, but that’s it. I’m not going to lie, but it’s really gotten to me. I’ve felt very unsuccessful this year and it really isn’t a nice way to feel. HOWEVER, I need to start looking at it differently. Just because I haven’t gotten any of these jobs, doesn’t mean I’m unsuccessful. At the end of the day, I know I’m good at what I do and I’ve gotten the auditions to get myself seen, so that’s a start. I’ve attended every audition and recorded every self tape to the best of my ability and have come out feeling happy with what I’d presented. That counts towards my success too. Above all, I’ve carried on, I’ve held my head high and I’ve continued my journey. Yes, I’ve gotten upset over not getting any of the jobs this year, but I’ve let that sad feeling pass and I’ve carried on. I have to remind myself that although it isn’t the type of success that I am striving for, what I’m doing should still be viewed as success.
What has helped me on this journey of enlightenment, is talking to others and being completely honest about what my year has been like. I shouldn’t be feeling ashamed about my lack of work, because it’s not just me who is dealing with this. I’m not the first and I certainly won’t be the last.
In the media recently actor Katie Jarvis was ridiculed for working as a security guard for B&M after recently playing Hayley Slater in Eastenders. Does this make her unsuccessful? Absolutely not! At the end of the day, like most working class actors Katie has bills to pay, she has food to buy and children to look after. If an acting job hasn’t come her way, she’s not going to sit on the sofa waiting for a call from her agent. She’s going to go out there and get a resting job in order to keep the money coming in. She is a normal human being and she’s just trying to get by. Luckily, what felt like the entirety of the performance industry on Twitter completely got behind Katie by listing their resting jobs too, despite how successful they have been or are at the moment. It was a very liberating and clarifying time. We’ve all got to work hard for what we want and there is no shame in not having a performing job all of the time. You’ve got to work hard for what you want.
Looking at success in a different way isn’t going to make me complacent about achieving my goals. It’s about focusing my mind in order to tell myself that I am doing well. I am still constantly working hard to achieve my goals and I will continue with determination and resilience. This year has just been a tough one, but I am positive that things can only go up from here. Onwards and upwards to a different type of success in 2020.