In one of the many spectacular convos going on in our Self-Management for Actors Facebook group recently, the topic of STRUGGLE came up.
Specifically, someone had advised that actors should always “live poor.” Stay in a crappy living situation. Small room. Meager surroundings. No luxuries. Really scrap and scrape by and stay hungry because that’s what it takes to be an artist. That living in some sort of cushy lifestyle makes you soft and causes you to never make it.
What a bunch of horseshit.
Honestly, I could end this post right there. I mean, it really is that dang simple.
But let me crawl into the tiny mind of someone who would actually suggest that living miserably adds to your edge as a creative, just because it’s fun to understand the WHY behind the WHAT when we see stuff like this out there in the world.
I get where this bastardization of decent advice comes from.
The kernel of good advice stems from, “Stay hungry,” or “Always hustle,” and things of that nature.
Sure. This is important.
You’ve gotta WANT it.
Because this business will test you, you’ve gotta want it a lot.
Heck, I remember feeling as though I had lost my hustle when I had a golden handcuffs job (that’s the kind of job that pays ridiculously well, has crazy long hours, but they swear up and down you can take off anytime for auditions and — of course — if you book something, they’ll be fine with you leaving the office to follow your dreams during a long lunch or on a few sick days).
I got so comfortable earning more money at the age of 23 than my mother had ever seen that I stopped picking up the Dramalogue (anyone else remember the pre-Backstage rag for auditions?!?), always decided the trip across town to that open call just wasn’t worth it, and pretty much stopped checking in with my agent.
I lost my hustle. Because my bills were more than paid.
Had I “stayed hungry,” maybe I’d have had a greater interest in running all over town, hitting all the auditions, doing copy-credit-meals stuff rather than relaxing at the day spa during a well-earned day off from the day job… or maybe not. Who knows?
But what I do know is the idea of INTENTIONALLY STAYING MISERABLE because somehow it feeds your inner artist is ludicrous.
In fact, aligning with the reality that this — right here, right now — is a life filled with dreams-come-true moments stacked one after the next after the next *is* the most powerful strategy for success there is!
See, because there’s not some finishline we CROSS as artists, after which everything is perfect (and before which everything sucks).
It’s not like Dorothy waking up in Oz, suddenly experiencing life in Technicolor for the first time.
If you’re miserable ON the journey, you’re never gonna get ANYWHERE that’ll cheer you the eff up. It just doesn’t work like that. (Tweet that badboy.)
Finding things to appreciate right now, even if you live in a one-room apartment with a mattress on the floor (heck, *especially* if you live like that) will elevate your every choice as a performer. You don’t stay in hustle mode because you can only afford ramen noodles. You stay in hustle mode because you’re motivated to get out there. To connect with others. To build relationships. To create content. To advance your dream incrementally over time.
When I think back to age-23-me and the things I explored when I DID clock in for “actor stuff,” I recall researching buyers, attending networking events, participating in staged readings, teaching playwriting to gang members…
What I “lost” was the hustle for actor busy work. I was still doing important stuff. Remarkably important stuff, actually.
I got PICKY because I could be.
And that’s incredibly valuable.
Plus… I came home to my fancy apartment with a view of the Hollywood sign, grateful for every ounce of my reality because I knew even then that my love for MY LIFE was my full-time focus.
That running around resentful of how I was living, day to day, was NEVER gonna help me as an artist or as a human being.
Yet there are people all around us who think struggle is sexy. Fighting for it is to be commended. Getting by on no sleep, living lean, DOING THE MOST is somehow a good thing. That all that “efforting” is somehow credit in the bank… and someday you’ll be able to cash in all that hustle for an Emmy.
Notice the highest-tier folks out there. Notice even the working actors whose names most folks don’t actually know (the “Hey, it’s THAT guy” actors). There’s a sense of ease about them.
Sure, sure, you may say that’s because they work. It’s easy to love your life when you’re working.
Yeah… but these folks would say — even when it’s quiet for them — that their lives are good and they don’t champion the struggle.
You know the difference between slacking off on creating your own content, getting out there and networking, being proactive… and STRUGGLING through all the things, right?
The struggle is overrated.
I’m working on — ACTUALLY, I’m gonna use on myself something I’ve been using on a couple o’ my masterminders recently — I’m PLAYING WITH (trading out “working on” for “playing with,” because that language is just so much more fun) my focus word for 2018. I haven’t settled on one yet, but it’s something in the neighborhood of effortless, ease, flow, synergy, that sort of thing.
There’s all the room in the world for this to be easy.
It just takes a wee paradigm shift.
Hey, have you been spotting these glorious SMFA bracelets out in the world? Check my Insta-stories today for a bunch! I am *loving* the glee with which these are received. 🙂 Love y’all! (Yes… we’ll be making some of these available to the world soon. Stay in touch if you’re interested in scoring one of your own.)
Ooh, and before I sign off, THANK YOU for all the awesome feedback you’re sharing about David H. Lawrence XVII’s badass FREE voiceover training going on! (If you haven’t watched it yet, you can still get caught up here. LOVE jamming with y’all in the comments and learning alongside you!) There’s a new vid going up right about now and I for one can’t wait to check it out!
Have you told your friends to join us for *our* free year-end training? Get in Gear for the New Year is coming up soon and you can learn all about it, get images to share out on social media, and get in on the Twitter parade with a quick little visit right over here.
Dang, there’s a lot of goodness in the world… for FREE! So even if you *do* like to live lean, champion the struggle, and resent the early steps in your lifelong journey to the life of your dreams for some reason, you can STILL get a lot of goodness out of life (which sure makes all that struggle and resentment look futile, huh?).
Try a life of ease for a while, wouldja? What on EARTH could be the downside?