The Physics of Success
Courtney Rioux wrote a great blog post last month entitled “3 Beliefs that Keep You Jealous of Your Colleagues.” In it, she lists the following lies we tell ourselves, sometimes on a daily basis:
1. “There is a limited amount of success. If you are successful, I can’t be.”
2. “If you are successful, it means that I’m not good enough.”
3. “I’m further behind than I should be in life, and you’re not.”
While we believe there is only so much success to go around, it simply isn’t true. Success, love, and money, among other things, are multiplied the more we have them. You book a role, do well, and the director requests you for her next project. You smile at a stranger which ever so subtly lifts his spirits and gives him the impetus to smile at the next passerby. You open up your own shop and use the money to open up two more shops. And so on, and so on, and so on. Objects in motion stay in motion. It’s physics, baby.
Ok, that all sounds great, but also a little idealistic, no? And if objects in motion stay in motion, then what happens when objects are at rest?
Social media has a tendency to slow us down. Sometimes, each #bookedit! post on Facebook further proves Courtney’s 3 myths right. This is the danger of social media. This is why Facebook Depression is a real thing.
The truth is, the moment we put our faith into these myths is the moment we head into dangerous territory. Comparing ourselves to others is normal but extremely detrimental to our own success and physical and mental health.
The first step in the right direction is asking yourself why you’re doing this. Why are you an actor? You could make a hell of a lot more money doing just about anything else, so why acting? Is it because you love it? Great. That’s a good start. But if it’s for the attention or “fame,” then I’d seriously reconsider your career goals. If you’re in it for the journey, then enjoy that journey. But if you’re in it for some preconceived idea of what a destination should be, beware. If the latter is the case, you are in for a long life of comparisons and disappointments.
It’s only in the Now that we are truly happy.
So let’s say you’ve asked that question, and you realize you truly are in it for the journey. That’s great. Now what?
If this is you and you still find yourself comparing your success to others, I challenge you to take a break from social media. For a day, a week, or for however long you see fit. Just enough to catch your breath and to remember why you do what you do. Furthermore, when you do look at Facebook, Instagram, etc, note what draws you to these sites. Is it compulsive? That’s to say, do you find yourself whipping out your phone any moment you feel less than? If this resonates with you, start by simply noting it. No judgement, just observation.
As Eckhart Tolle puts it in his book Practicing the Power of Now, “Every addiction arises from an unconscious refusal to face and move through your own pain, Every addiction starts with pain and ends with pain. Whatever the substance you are addicted to – alcohol, food, legal or illegal drugs, or a person [or social media] – you are using something or somebody to cover up your pain.” By noting our feelings and actions, we begin to become aware of the tools we use to cover up our own pain. With our without our compulsions, this pain is present within us. By noting our compulsions, we become present and begin to get closer to the root of that pain.
Next, try meeting with other colleagues one-on-one. I tend to meet with fellow actors for coffee about once a week. I love this time together. It’s time to talk about our struggles and frustrations, and it’s also time to do some humble bragging and celebrate our friends’ success. I always leave these one-on-ones feeling rejuvenated. Building and strengthening these relationships is instrumental to our well being in this industry. All we have is each other!
And my final piece of advice is this: don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Your career can be fun and exciting, but it won’t keep you warm at night. So find something else to keep you warm at night. Maybe a man. Maybe a heating blanket. Go on dates. Get a hobby. Know the difference between venting, celebrating, and brainstorming about your career, versus digging yourself in a hole and running yourself in circles. I’ve struggled with this one countless times. I stew over shit until I’m red hot. I hold grudges passionately like it’s my job. But I’m only hurting myself. I know this about myself, and I know I need to work on it. And by work, I mean note my feelings with no judgement and let them be. All too often, I try to DO when I’m feeling less than (like compare my life to others on Facebook) instead of just BE. If this is you, try just BEING. Attempt to sit with your feelings and insecurities and allow them to pass without forcing them in any certain direction. It’s a lot harder than it sounds, but it’ll save your life and your career.
Most importantly, know you’re not alone. Know that every actor at some point or another is faced with his or her own insecurities and fears. This is normal. Let that be, and enjoy the journey you are on.