I’m at a difficult point in my career/artistic journey, and I’m not sure what I should do.
I’ve had relative success in theatre, and have even booked some TV and film roles. But now that I have made the move to LA from my smaller home market, I seem to be in an existential crisis.
Bookings and auditions are so few and far between now (and have been for a while) that I have thrown myself into classes. But now I’m not sure I even know what I’m doing anymore.
Every time I prepare a scene for class, I feel like I’m going to have a nervous breakdown. This has never happened to me before, and I even wonder if this career I have loved for so long is really for me.
Maybe you have some advice?
Dazed and Confused
Okay, first, thank you for writing. I know sometimes the scariest thing to do when feeling so alone, small, and rudderless is to reach out. It’s actually the most important time to do so, of course. So good for you. Honor that you aren’t trying to figure this all out for yourself.
Next, breathe. Like, really breathe. Sit, centered, up straight, spine supported, head high… and breathe. Deep into your belly. Give yourself a boost of good-flowing, refreshing air that will help you settle the sense of overwhelm.
So, this is what I’m getting, from your email. That sense of overwhelm is what’s derailing even your acting class experience. Acting class, of course, is where you’re meant to feel supported, encouraged, challenged and free to explore parts of your craft muscles that will help you grow. But if you’re getting uneasy just pulling together material for class, there’s nothing good that class is going to do for you. At least ’til you get the on-edge feeling to settle down.
Of course, I think staying in training, ongoing, is totally valuable and I know it can provide for spectacular breakthroughs throughout your creative career. But because I know where you’re training and because I know the level of pressure their program puts on its students, I wonder if you might want to take a break (not for long, just to get yourself settled down and to get your priorities in order) from the craft classes.
Maybe go do a play. Go to weekly script-in-hand staged reading events. Connect with fellow creatives just to get out of your head and have zero-stakes convos about your craft and about this biz.
Remember, you’ve moved to The Super Bowl of Acting and it really doesn’t matter how well-prepared you were, how much work you booked before you got here, or how much you love this business and the people in it… Hollywood can be an isolating place filled with people working at many more tiers than even existed in your previous market, and the shift can be jarring.
So, you’ve gotten jarred. Does that mean giving up acting is the right choice? I can’t say for sure. I certainly made that choice at the age of 30, after having pursued acting professionally starting at the age of 7. But I didn’t leave the business. No way was I gonna leave my love behind. Retire from auditioning? Happy to. But that was me. That was me after moving to LA (twice — once just before the Northridge Earthquake, again after The Age 28 Epiphany), and after landing a freelance writing job that would change not only me, but segments of the industry itself, frankly. My path got *very* clear.
If you’re not feeling CLEAR about your path, the best advice I can give you is to put a thing or two on hiatus. Think about what clutter you can clear from your current pursuit. Take a break from craft classes. Connect with some fellow creatives — not to get their opinion on everything but to just know you’re not alone. Admit that what was working before may not be working right now. And note that that doesn’t mean you have failed. It means you have moved. You have shifted markets. You have changed as a person and there’s recalibration to do.
Most of all, let yourself off the hook for not having the LA experience you thought you would, when you first made the move. I work with actors all over the world to get ready for “the big move” and every person’s experience is different. Every person’s path is unique. No more looking around at anyone else for how your journey should look. Sit still with where you are. Breathe. And consider giving yourself a wee hiatus to get very clear on your journey, without the distraction of others’ opinions or the pressure of working so hard for a little bit.
Listen to your gut. And lemmeknow how it all shakes out for you. Know that there is no wrong decision. It’s just your awesome life… and you’re creating the path as you walk upon it. Enjoy that journey (whatever it may be).
Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001802.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.