Happy 2015, all! It has been awhile since I have written due to hectic schedules and feeling uninspired to write for one reason or another -- or when I was inspired I had the overwhelming feeling that I could not possibly write about THAT topic...for fear of...one reason or another...Even though I wrote it and hit delete. One day. One day I will have the balls for it. Ah but...Life is overall pretty great here in our world. Bren opened and closed a show since last post. I was involved with a workshop/reading of a wonderful new play that will have a full production in the spring. We both taught some acting classes for kids on the spectrum. And I had to turn down a couple national commercial opportunities due to other commitments. (!) ...What a wacky, wonderful world. We are happy to be sharing some time with some very close artist friends who we only see a couple of times a year. We are starting the New Year off right! I am kicking it off with a raw plant diet and feeling good despite the fact that my jaws hurt from all the chewing...Try it and you will understand. Getting down to my fighting weight. Perhaps more on that topic later in the weeks ahead. For now I want to talk about something more pressing.
Almost a year ago, a director/theatre educator/friend invited us to come and visit a school for consideration in their grad program. Neither Bren nor I have an MFA. How we are surviving in this industry without one is a miracle but we are none the less. While extremely flattered for the opportunity and impressed with the program, we ultimately came to the conclusion that it was not the right thing for us at the time. This friend shined a light on something that I have been mulling over off and on for this past year, and here right at the beginning of the new year, it has reared its ugly head again...He shared an insight with me regarding something that I noticed over the years and continue to struggle with -- the IMPOSTER SYNDROME. I had never heard of this until I confessed to him that I was clearly not qualified and was feeling insecure about heading back into the classroom after so many years since undergrad. Maybe I was not a good enough actor to be there. He giggled as only he can, and wryly said "Oh you have the imposter syndrome too." I have since learned that many artists -- particularly women or artists of color have this same condition and anyone else who tends to be an over-achiever/perfectionist-- although I guess clinically it is not a "condition" per se. Do you know this thing? Do you have it? Ok, let me explain this and see if it sounds familiar...
You go into an audition. You do the monologue/cold read/scene. Pretty good. You get a callback. Pretty good. You book. YES! Wonderful. You immediately feel like you can't do it because as soon as you start rehearsals the director/other actors/producer/EVERYONE will discover that you can't act.
You are working a project. Things are going well. People involved are happy with the work. All is good. Deadlines are approaching. You are doing the work. It hits you in the shower or at 3am in the morning -- this is about to de-rail......You begin to get the sinking feeling that SOMEHOW you have managed to trick EVERYONE into thinking that you know what you are doing in spite of the fact that you have no idea and that you are sure you are going to fuck it all up. It is just a matter of time. Yeah, they like you now, you SEEM to be doing a good job but just you wait...just you wait, Henry Higgins....
You book on-camera work. You are so EXCITED! Big paycheck ahead. The universe provides! While learning the lines you realize that you are not very good at acting on-camera -- actually do you know how to act at all? You don't know what the hell you are doing...Why did they even cast me? How did I slip past them? I think I have to call in sick...I may cry. Like ugly cry. There is no way I can do this...
Well, you get the idea...This is the dreaded Imposter Syndrome...It is awful. Wait -- let me clarify something here. To have the Imposter Syndrome you actually have to be pretty good at said profession -- whether it be acting or accounting or business or whatever. You have to ACTUALLY have a successful career. You CAN'T really have a history of screwing things up...Then you really WOULD be an Imposter/Con/Shyster. You have to have a pretty good track record to anyone observing from the outside -- viewing your body of work from the outside...
But the observers don't know because they have been tricked by you. They have all been tricked. Just because you have good reviews, have never been fired from a gig or even a jobby-job for that matter, just because other artists seem to respect you and think your work is pretty solid (do they really think that? )...You seem to be booking consistently but...It is just luck. Statistics. Chance. Some people are just lucky and land on their feet, right? Ok, now I think you get the point...It can't be because you are talented or smart or capable or worthy... You see yourself as an imposter that is sure to be found out at any moment. With every new gig, I fear they will find out I have no talent.
"The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. "~Sylvia Plath
I want to get rid of my Imposter. I don't need him. He no longer serves me. I think he needs a name. I attempted to name him from one of those stupid- ass quizzes that are going around the web NAME YOUR MONSTER. "Lethal Child" doesn't seem quite right. He is certainly not a child and while a royal pain-in-the-ass is not lethal by any means...More like an "Earl" or "Ramone." Maybe a "Fester" or maybe he is a she... -- "Yuca-mama" seems fitting in that she is a mythical South American river snake monster that eats everything she comes near... Maybe Yuca-Mama? Yuca-Mama, your days are numbered...I'm coming for YOU in 2015. Watch out...
I'm a southern gal with liberal politics who has worked my ass off and sacrificed a lot in order to be a working regional theatre actor. There are lots of working actors who are out here grinding without begin famous. And we consider that we have already MADE it. I really like to tell stories and solve the puzzle of the text. I LOVE untangling scripts and unlocking characters. I really give a damn about the planet and am an avid gardener. I love to get my hands dirty. I am completely fascinated by fellow journey(man) actors and how we survive and thrive. Ballin' on a budget, Baby. http://www.rachelburttram.com/