What to Expect When You’re Expecting to Fail
One week until the big move…
Let me begin by saying that I’m not the Drama Club Princess you might’ve gone to high school with. I’ve had dreams of becoming an actor since I was playing with pokemon cards, but I wasn’t one of those kids with an aggressive stage mom or an agent, or even lying about having an agent to seem cool at rehearsal. I was not my high school director’s obvious favorite. I was a background character until I worked my way to supporting lead in my senior year. I’m not glamorous or skinny, never cast as the ingenue. I am an alto with no chance of a solo. I ate potato chips while I learned my lines.
When I started preparing for this move I did a little research and found out a few interesting things. I didn’t know what to expect, but from what the internet told me, I could expect a few things. I could expect to need a lot of funds saved up and a tight budget. I could expect some setbacks in finding housing, roommates, survival jobs, etc. I could expect no less than 5-10 mental breakdowns beginning yesterday and lasting until after I’ve been settled in for months. All of these things so far have appeared to be accurate. What I wasn’t expecting was this sudden burst of confidence.
During my last week at work a trainee asked me something like “What if it doesn’t work out? Aren’t you scared?” And from nowhere, this animal inside me just took over and said “well, I graduated from the best damn acting school in the English-speaking world so I’m pretty sure I’ve got whatever it takes!” I couldn’t believe what had just come out of my mouth but my chest was inflated and my lips were curled into a smile I have never smiled and I was all a-tingle with my new-found nerves. I’m not like that. I don’t ever say things like that.
But some part of me knows it’s true.
The other morning I woke up and after a cup of coffee and some face book scrolling decided to hit the bricks looking for a survival job in my new locale. I started with a simple Google search of restaurants in my area, knowing that my restaurant experience had prepared me enough to hopefully pay my rent. Then I stopped for a second to do a little mental math. If I worked part time, say 4 shifts a week, I would need at least $125 in tips to make my rent in a week. I thought, okay, that’s not impossible. It was even more doable if I spread it out over two weeks. Heck, if I only worked 16 shifts a month I’d only need to clear $38 a shift. I worked in one of the lower end chain restaurants in a town with pretty low-brow clientele. If I couldn’t pull in $40 a shift the restaurant had to have been on fire in the middle of a blizzard. Worst case scenario suddenly didn’t seem so scary.
And here again was this unexpected sense of confidence reigniting within me. Why aim so low in the first place? I narrowed my search field this time to only restaurants in the area with $$$ or $$$$ next to their listing. I realize I’m only talking about working a survival job in a restaurant but confidence is a muscle. It needs to be used and trained to be strong and beneficial. I’ve neglected my confidence for so long I think I forgot that I had any.
And to top it all off, I got a complete surprise in my inbox last Wednesday. A young director found me on Backstage (where I have not paid for a yearly membership since 2010) and asked me to be a part of a music video she was filming an hour north of my neck of the woods. Of course I said yes, but this was big. Part of the reason my actor dreams have yet to come to fruition deals with my lack of confidence. After graduation, I didn’t go on a single audition. I got caught up in the mundane and barely put my talents to use, save for a couple small projects here and there. When I decided to make this move, I was afraid to go in cold, but I knew I had to try. It’s kind of now or never, and my hope was that despite my fear, I could somehow make it work by jumping off the cliff and forcing myself to fly.
Once I got to the shoot, things just clicked into place. I felt like I was back in my own skin and surrounded by a tribe of like-minded people. It was a total rush. I wanted to go out and immediately find another project, another shoot or audition. My fear was gone, and here was my confidence. This is what I was born to do. This was meant to be.
They say that failing to plan is planning to fail. And while I’ve often been a fan of winging it in the past, I’ve looked at my future plans, knowing I need to work harder to make things happen, and knowing I
may will still fail at times. What I didn’t know is how planning this huge change in my life would produce a side of me I wasn’t aware that I had or how amazing it felt. I still get down every now and again about leaving my home and my friends and family, and I still wonder if I’ll ever measure up to those born-and-bred ingenues that have been modeling and working since the age of two. But I’m holding on to this sense of confidence in who I am and just what I’m capable of.
Because I deserve to be successful and I
can will be.