I don’t know about you, but I’ve never heard anyone say, “Oh, you wanna be an actor? Wow, you’re gonna live SUCH a lucrative and fulfilling life!” That’s because the creative path is viewed – by most – as the bumpy, dark, scary, Big Bad Wolf-stalked path (see my previous blog)…
But, have you ever asked yourself where this collective consciousness comes from, and why it should affect you?
Up until recently, I, like any impressionable artist, took the opinions and advice of others completely to heart.
When people suggested that my chosen career would be a struggle, I felt resentful, patronised and undermined. It’s easy to get bogged down in negative feedback – it happens to all of us – but, what I’ve come to realise is that feedback and opinions are an illusion. Just like struggle is an illusion.
First of all, let’s look at the people who perpetuate this ‘struggling artist’ stigma.
Have you ever heard a fellow creative say, “mate, this acting thing’s a struggle, don’t waste your time”? Of course not! The only people who refer to art as a struggle are NOT artists. They’ve never felt the delicious warmth of stage lights, or delighted in a satisfied audience’s applause. They don’t know all the wonderful perks that come with being an entertainer and, therefore, they are not reliable sources of information.
Second of all, life boils down to one thing: perception. Every person we meet, every problem we encounter; everything we believe is filtered through our perception of the world.
Consider children in African villages: they live with, what Western civilisation would deem, struggle. Lack of food, lack of clean water, lack of medical resources. However, they don’t view their lives as a struggle at all. They smile and laugh often, they dance and play often; they appreciate what they have, just as much as they appreciate what more they’re given. Why? Because struggle isn’t who they are, it’s what’s projected onto them. It’s external to them.
It’s the same with artists. You don’t have to struggle just because someone told you that you will, or that you should. You can perceive your experiences in any way that you choose. If you haven’t had an audition in a month, why does that automatically have to be a bad thing? I mean, shit, think of how much you can get done in a month! You can write that TV Pilot you’ve been thinking about, you can go on that long-awaited vacation to Hamilton Island, you can pop off to that yoga retreat you love, or, simply, spend more time with friends and family. No career is designed to be a struggle. Any time you feel ashamed of, restricted, or disempowered by your profession, it’s because you’ve CHOSEN to feel that way about it.
There’s not an opinionated person IN THE UNIVERSE who can stop you from having a good time, if that’s what you wanna do!
Ultimately, there’s no right way to be an actor. There’s no specific route to take, place to live, or experience to go through, but one thing’s for certain: whether you’re a rich actor, a poor actor, a well-seasoned actor, or just starting out, your career’s only gonna be a struggle if you want it to be!