You know the feeling, you're down on your luck, your career seems to be going nowhere, and the joy you had in theatre school is all but gone amidst the pain and suffering of rejection, unemployment, sacrifice, you name it! This is a condition that hits all of us and I like to call it The Actor Blues (cue B.B. King).
So how do you beat it? How do you avoid getting yourself into that dark abyss that can terrorize your passion, your drive, your talent? Here are 5 ways to beat the throes of the Actor Blues!
1. Start your Day Right Starting each morning with a specific routine that triggers your joy can be a very effective way to beat the blues. A combination of physical, mental and emotional focus can be all you need to get your day started on the right foot! Not sure what to do? Heres a piece I wrote all about morning routines.
2. Surround Yourself with Great People We tend to surround ourselves with two types of people. Those that lift us up or those who bring us down. If you don't have a supportive community around you, chances are you are surrounded by toxic friends, family members, lovers and colleagues. Ask yourself this: is anyone in your life right now making you feel guilty for being an actor? If you didn't answer "nope" right away then the answer is yes. Talk to these toxic people and see if boundaries can be set. If not, maybe it's time to set them free.
3. Redefine Success
Most of us are reaching for something. It's probably the reason you became an actor. The voice in your head says "Once I get there I will be happy", "Once I book that TV series I'll show Aunt Sally!", "Once I get that agent then I'll be good enough." The problem with "Once I" is that it will never be enough. The reality is if you are not happy now, you will never be happy. Happiness is not defined by outer circumstances. It is triggered by outer circumstances but it comes from within. Find happiness first and then the success will come to you.
4. Become Unshakeable
One of the best ways to counteract the bellows of the blues is to have an unshakeable set of skills that you continue to sharpen. There's a saying I love written by someone named Anonymous: "If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you". Training is a fantastic way to explore your potential, and live your truth. This is where true happiness emerges. This is why I teach classes that help to spark the inner child in our work!
5. Disconnect Once a Day
Social media has become such an integral part of our society. Chances are you found this article because you were scrolling (endless scrolling). Social media can be a very important tool to use in your career as an actor. However, our social media lives can also be the biggest catalyst of our Actor Blues. Your best friend Jenny just booked a series and you immediately feel upset and wronged because you haven't booked one (I mean seriously, does she have to post that selfie from her trailer - we get it!). Worst of all, you feel guilty for feeling jealous because you want to be happy for her. The whole thing throws you into a tailspin and you are left sitting on your floor eating whatever's in your fridge planning a new career as a vet. Hold the phone! In fact, don't hold the phone - shut if off and breathe. Disconnecting from your devices once a day will help you to keep that perspective and keep focused. This is by far the best way to keep those blues in check.
We all have off days, and the Actor Blues will hit you many times throughout your career. The techniques above will help you but the main thing to remember is not to judge yourself. When the blues set in, accept it and gently move on through. I will leave you with the words of Blues Expert B.B. King:
The thrill is gone It's gone away for good The thrill is gone baby It's gone away for good Someday I know I'll be open armed baby Just like I know a good man should
You know I'm free, free now baby I'm free from your spell Oh I'm free, free, free now I'm free from your spell And now that it's all over All I can do is wish you well
Tony Babcock, IYA Founder