My friend posted one day that he was struggling with crippling anxiety before auditions. He searched for a mantra, and the one he came up with was, "It is unacceptable for me to be rewarded for doing what I love, to share myself with someone, to share my own unique gifts... Accept the unacceptable, accept the unacceptable, accept the unacceptable.."
If you've spent any amount of time in this industry, you know that you need a pep talk to get yourself out of the house every once in a while. You need a phrase or sentence that's going to cut through the bullshit and focus on what's important. Staying in this game requires overcoming the head games the industry throws you. Those games are hard to win.
This mantra allowed my friend to show up to the audition that day. Now may be a good time to mention that this guy graduated from Juilliard, he can dance as well as he acts, he's highly fuckable, and he's one of the funniest queens I've ever met. (And I know some funny queens!) Just in case you think self-doubt doesn't plague the best and the brightest. It does. His mantra took stock of the incredible odds against him and allowed him to show up anyway. He felt he made enough of a breakthrough to share with others on social media. So I was inspired to share some of my most inspiring mantras for those days you need a little extra motivation. Used together, they promote a healthy approach to life and auditioning that keep you from going crazy in this business.
1. I live an awesome, relaxed life full of interesting projects I enjoy doing.
I use this one because, like everyone I know, I tend to get caught up in "the drama of overwhelm." I get so caught up in all the stuff you Have to Do that you get addicted to, or at least very used to, the drama of being overwhelmed by it all.
Contrary to popular opinion, most creative types are not lazy and undisciplined. We work hard. We juggle day jobs with auditions with side gigs with dance classes with happy hours. It's easy to get overwhelmed when you're hustling. You feel like every moment has to be taken up by "getting ahead," especially when you're young. So you end up stressed out all the time.
This mantra allows you to step back and practice gratitude. Yes, you have to get up at 4:30 AM for a Soul Cycle shift-- but you get to check in Jake Gyllenhaal. And since you get classes for free, you've never looked so snatched. Plus, you're saving money by not paying for a gym membership. Granted, you do have an audition for Casey Nicholaw at noon the same day.... but you're auditioning for Casey Nicholaw. It's a lot, but it's all awesome.
"Stop talking about how busy you are," advises Jen Sincero in her amazing book You Are A Badass. "Focus on what you enjoy about what you do and the spaces in between the doing instead of feeling weighed down by it all."
So decide you live an awesome, relaxed life, and then live it.
2. The answers to my problems are on their way to me.
So, once you get done with your Casey Nicholaw audition, you have nothing to do except think about how the rent is due. That is, until your friend starts his bartending shift and you can go drink for free.
Practice telling yourself that all the answers to your problems are about to reveal themselves. Then trust that this will happen! That's a big part of it. Put it out there, let go of the stress and negativity surrounding your troubles, and then be open to a solution. After all, you're resourceful, right? You've already figured out how to work out and drink for free. Maybe tonight, instead of going to the bar, email your day job and see if you can pick up an extra shift. Tell them your situation. I once worked at a studio that advanced my paycheck a week. If you do end up at the bar, see if they need any people there, even just one night a week. Talk to the manager. Do everything you can think of to do to solve your problem, then wait for the solution to present itself. It always does.
3. God did not bring me this far to drop me on my ass.
Whatever your background or belief system, you obviously had some faith in yourself if you've made it far enough to stumble onto this blog. Maybe you've escaped to NY from your small Christian town. Maybe you made it into a really kick-ass theatre program. Maybe it was theatre that finally enabled you to come out to your parents. No matter what your story, some Guiding Hand has led you to this awesome, relaxed life filled with interesting projects you enjoy doing. The bottom is not going to fall out now. God did not lead you out of Bumblefuck, through college and out of the closet to abandon you on the doorstep of your dreams. Trust that while the present may not be what you had in mind, you're going to be okay. It's all coming together. The answers are on their way.
4. There are no emergencies.
This is a useful mantra even if it's not completely true. But if the word 'emergency' is not followed by 'surgery,' 'call center,' or 'help line,' it is probably not REALLY an emergency. Using this mantra releases tension in so many areas of life. Any time anyone tries to lay a guilt trip on you, pressure you, or make you feel like a choice is not your own, calm down and take a breath. Calm the rising panic with the thought, "There are no emergencies." After all, what we do isn't brain surgery. But arguably, it's harder. I mean, at least they're hiring brain surgeons!
5. Treating myself like a precious object will make me strong.
"I naively believe that self love is 80 percent of the solution, that it helps beyond words to take yourself through the day as you would your most beloved mental-patient relative, with great humor and lots of small treats," says writer, guru and all-around badass Anne Lamott.
We can be so hard on ourselves in this industry. We have high standards and a narrow definition of success. Practice being nice to yourself, even if you don't feel like it. Even if you just biffed your last audition. Even if you did amazing at your last audition, and still didn't book it-- especially then! Make yourself a cup of tea. Sleep in. Buy that new shade of lipstick. Remind yourself that you are valued. Maybe not by the casting people at Telsey (at the moment), but they do not determine your self-worth. You do. So treat yourself to Schmackary's, or a yoga class, or a trip to a museum. Live your fullest life, and love yourself.