Lesson from Fear:Going around the houses

Today I read an article by an actors marketing coach about how fear can create the same ol’ pattern of behaviour: you get an idea, you get scared that it won’t work/you’ll get rejected so you overanalyse it then you either trash the idea, or use it in a highly diluted, un-fun way that is a million miles away from the original idea.

I see this often. Not just about creative ideas but decisions in life, too. Do I approach the guy I fancy? I want to do this (insert wildly outlandish activity), but will it lead me anywhere or make me successful? I want to create a blog on this topic, but will people read it and what’s the point of it anyway?

Personal story.

Years ago when I first got the idea that maybe I’d want to do acting, in my mind what I *really* wanted to do was be in action movies – anything from Kill Bill to Batman to Lara Croft to the Bourne series. Running around, kicking booty, helicopters n motorbikes, yes please.

Me, yesterday

But what happened.

Fear stepped in. Instead of me taking the most obvious step, the step that would have me doing what I REALLY wanted right from the get-go (take stunt acting classes!), instead I listened to my fear which said ‘you have to be a “serious’ actor”. This lead to a winding road of theatre acting classes, Shakespeare, falling asleep whilst watching plays at the National Theatre (true story), and going to networking events trying to hold conversations with actors who wanted to discuss plays.

I hate going to the theatre.

But my ego kept telling me ‘if you wanna be an actor, this is what you have to do, else no-one is gonna give you a break, no-one is gonna take you seriously, and you have to compete with all these theatre types who have theatre training.’

As time went on, I started to feel like I wasn’t really ‘an actor’ because I didn’t wanna talk about Chekov or the more academic side of things (which is crazy – if you enjoy acting as an activity then you’re an actor). My passion waned, and possibly worse, I felt frustrated and lost. I thought I enjoyed acting – so why did I feel like a fish out of water?

I took a break. I didn’t act for about a year. I took up freestyle dancing, and through that re-connected to my passion for self-expression through movement. And the call of acting came back.

This time, I’m gunning for what I want and love. I refuse to let my fear or ego trip me up. No more going round the houses. Just direct.

I took a ‘dramatic violence’ class last week and I was completely in my element – grappling, fake-strangling, punching ;) It felt RIGHT. There is much more of this to come, so brace yourselves.

This week’s takeaway:

If you identify something that you want to do, or something that you love, ACCEPT it and take the shortest, most obvious route possible towards bringing it into your life. Don’t listen to the BS that says ‘well if you want to do this, you have to do XYZ first’ or ‘you’re not a proper ____ if you don’t do XYZ’. Don’t let fear take you on an unnecessary journey away from your core desire. Don’t negate your desire to make it more ‘acceptable’ or seemingly less ‘risky’. Because

  1. You may waste a lot of time, money, effort
  2. You may begin to question if you really want what you want in the first place – self-doubt
  3. You might start to even dislike or become jaded about your original passion
  4. You might find yourself amongst people who are NOT on your wavelength, feeling pretty isolated

All bad beans.

In the past couple of years I’ve learnt that when you ACCEPT what you are truly passionate about, and stick with it, your passion will grow, doors will open, you’ll find yourself surrounded by people who you love and who support you, and your sense of self will start to feel more solid. When I really got into waacking (the dance form I do), even if other elements of my life felt turbulent or unsure, I knew that at least one thing was true; I am whole-heartedly a waacker and I had that to hold onto. And you know, if I had let fear lead me round the houses when it comes to dance, I’d probably be a jaded unfulfilled ballerina, missing out on the passion, friendships and competitions I get to do with waacking.

I think something I was prone to doing was looking at how I could ‘maximise my chances of success’ by picking the most popular or mainstream area, even if I wasn’t lit up by it. And aiming to be the ‘all-rounder’ rather than an expert. Being an action actor is quite niche, waacking is a very niche dance form, even the things I write about in my blog (life lessons) is kinda niche.  But you have to love what you do, not try and alter it so it fits into what ‘most’ people like or ‘respect’. It’s unsustainable. Passion is pretty much the only thing that will keep you going the long-term. So don’t let fear rob you of falling in love with your passions and missing out on opportunities for success! And when you follow your niche, you’re bound to become an expert in it much much quicker.

Can you relate to this? Have you let fear lead you on a merry dance, rather than just dive in to what you really love and want to do? Are you doing that right now, and if so, what do you truly want and what can you do to move towards it, rather than away from it? Leave comments!

Off to practice my bad-ass action girl swagger,

S xo

Authenticity

The Creative Channel

I’ve been amongst visual artists, writers, filmmakers, actors, dancers, musicians throughout my life and have found sometimes it can be easy to focus on technique rather than channelling your truth. We are often trained or taught that to be ‘good’ at something means mastering technique and/or doing the best practice of what came before. It can sometimes be easy to look to peers and consider ‘if I do it like them, then I will get ahead’.

Yet if layers of taught technique cover up your authentic expression, your distinctive style will be unable to come out. Not only that, but your motivation to stay with the creative form (be that writing, acting etc) will diminuish as you move further from your true core. If you start to associate creating with all the shoulds, worries, self-criticism, then you’re not gonna want to be creative!

Whilst this can be seen more obviously with creatives, it also applies to anyone who denies their truth, in the moment. If your mind is busy with future projections of how ‘you’ will be received, or overly considered with whether you are doing something ‘the right way’, you are missing out on the one thing that is truly of value: expressing your truth.

Imagine inside you you have a ball of golden light, that wants to reach out from you (you may prefer to imagine a stream of gold light coming in through your head and powering through your body). That is what you should be focusing on when it comes to expressing yourself. Not the doubts in your mind, not ideas about how you may be received by others, not trying to remember what you ‘should’ be doing – just be present, and let what needs to come out, come out.

Even after doing a lot of work on this myself, it always amazes me how many layers there can be to strip back so that this core energy can come out unhindered. Where there is hesitancy to create, then there tends to be a layer to dismantle.

And it’s not always easy. Because there are folk out there who have set beliefs about how a creative should be, and who may not receive your gift in the way you may hope them to.

Yet there is a yearning for authenticity and natural talent, a yearning for resonance, and we owe it to this light that flows through us to step up + represent!

How can you step out of your own way this week? Where can you show up present, vulnerable, in your true voice, and stay open rather than alter to fit the projected perceiptions of others?

Rejections are signs from the universe that you are not resonating with that particular person or group – a sign to change the environment you are moving in, rather than change yourself.

It Gets Better

The past couple of weeks I’ve been really drawn towards initiatives that empower gay youth. I’m straight, yet know what it’s like to be bullied and feel marginalised. The concerns of the LGBT community can reflect struggles any of us have when it comes to being authentic and taking a stand for who you really are in a world that often wants conformity, no matter what your gender, race or sexuality.

No-one should be rejected for expressing their authentic individuality, which is why I’m supporting It Gets Better – a project whose purpose is to give hope to gay teens who may be struggling with being accepted at school or by their family. If you feel inclined to bring a little ray of hope, please make your own video and add it to the It Gets Better website. I love contributing to anything that aims to bring hope and light to others, I hope you’ll join me.

Much love,

S xo