Remember how last week, I was really jazzed, because I had fed my soul with so many wonderful theater moments? Well, this week, I’m having to remind myself that “my journey is not their journey.” You’re not supposed to compare yourself to other people. It’s the quickest way to unhappiness. And yet, we do it all the time: ‘She’s younger than me, and already has accomplished so much in her career! What am I doing with MY life?! When am I going to get MY shot?!’ The answer is: when you get it. You’ll get your shot when you get it.
I am a member of a few actor-groups on Facebook. These groups essentially exist for us to encourage one another, bounce ideas and get advice, and share our successes. It is VERY easy to see people posting about booking a commercial, or freelancing or even signing with an agent, and think, ‘Ugh! Why are they having so much success and I am having NONE?’ But their journey is not my journey. So I have to remember that, and then I have to think: Is their success due to work they’ve done or just simple luck?’ And the answer, most of the time, is both. They did the work, so when they got lucky, they were prepared to accept the success and run with it.
I’ve been reading this fabulous new book by Jenna Fischer called The Actor’s Life: A Survival Guide. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to pursue a career in acting. It’s literally a step-by-step guide, paired with personal stories from her life, and it is definitely a big help in reminding myself that my time will come. (I would also recommend it for anyone who loves an actor, so you can get a better idea of what it is they deal with on a daily basis.)
In “Chapter Four: Auditioning, Rejection, and How to Persevere,” Jenna tells the story of how she was cast as Pam Beesly on The Office. She had struggled for years to get this kind of opportunity, and had come so close multiple times; she was on the verge of giving up, and had even called her agent and manager to tell them so. They convinced her not to give up, and by continuing her hard work, she eventually won the role of Pam because, “all those crazy elements had come together for [her] — the right timing, right height, right hair color, and a total lack of name value. It was lightning in a bottle.”
She had lost out on those other roles and other opportunities because they weren’t meant for her. Those roles were part of someone else’s journey. And not booking those roles was part of Jenna’s. Someone else was a better fit for the role because they had the right hair color, or they were the right height, or they were a better-known actress. But by continuing to believe in herself, and create “a consistent body of work,” she was able to form relationships that eventually led her to the role that was just right for her, and finally gave her the validation that she had been longing for.
But her journey is not my journey. It’s very similar in a lot of ways, but it’s not mine. The people that I see posting about the jobs they’ve booked, and the agents they’ve met and/or signed with…their journeys are not mine, either. I know that there is work I need to do on my end to get to where those peers of mine are. And I’m going to do it. Because yes, our journeys are different; but that doesn’t mean I can’t have the same level of success.
I have work to do so that when my time comes, and luck is on my side, I am ready to accept the success, and run with it… on MY journey.
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