Climbing Over the Wall
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “if it were easy, anybody could do it.” The skill set of
a creative person can take years, if not a lifetime to master. But if you want to make it
into a career, the hardest part has nothing to do with training. The most grueling aspect
is the emotional war that we wage on ourselves. There are certainly easier storms to
weather than others, but after a while, the anticipation of another emotional disaster
threatening to tear through your life can cause us to prepare for the worst, even if if the
forecast is only cloudy with a small chance of light showers. If you’ve been through a
hurricane or two, fear can, and will, take over and become the caption of your ship.
Fear can be devastating. It can erode relationships, stop us from taking personal and
professional risks, and grind any kind of progress to a disappointing halt. No matter
how big or small, it can be seen behind the eyes, like a faithful watchman. No matter
how hard we try to pretend it’s not there, it can be seen and felt in person, and translate
on camera as well. That disconnection, that hesitancy, can come between you and your
dream job. Fear disconnects us from ourselves, from others and from the present
moment. But more often than not, all we know is that we feel safe. And sure, when we
feel safe, we avoid the possibility of being wrong, of not being good enough, of feeling
all the bad feelings. However, this self-protectiveness, this avoidance of risk, also robs
us of the possibility of being wildly happy, and living our fullest life.
Being camera shy is less common now than before, due to social media. But if a selfie
was sufficient, then photographers would be out of business! It is because of this
phenomenon that headshot photographers are more important now than ever before.
Because we really need to see you- to meet you- in your shot. And to do this, you must
be vulnerable, there are no two ways about it. The uneasiness of a camera in your
face, the racing thoughts running through your head regarding every flaw you think you
have, the pressure from agents, parents, or friends to be a certain way, can all interfere
with allowing yourself to be authentic and present.
So then, what is vulnerability really? Being vulnerable means allowing yourself to take
action knowing there is not a guaranteed outcome; it is going on a first date, not
knowing if you will have anything to talk about; it is auditioning for your favorite director
or choreographer, knowing if you’ll get a callback; it is standing on stage asking the
audience to go on a journey with you, knowing that some people may not understand or
agree with what you are saying.
It can be scary, of course, so we let timidity win the day in countless career and
personal situations, by allowing fear to mask itself proudly as strength or indifference or
aloofness or cynicism.
Actress Genevieve Bujold succinctly states, “The main thing in acting is honesty, to feel
the humanity and get to the essence of the character. You can’t put anything into a
character that you haven’t got within you.”
So it is the inability or unwillingness to be vulnerable that causes us to disappear, that
can really hold us back. You’ve probably heard the term “pop” thrown around … Being
told you “really pop”, can make you feel like a million bucks. On the flip side, hearing
that you are great, “but you just don’t pop” can be the worst thing in the world. You have
it all together: you look great, you sound great, you are giving them technique for
days… so what gives? As crazy as it may sound, your “flaws” are what make you pop.
Only they aren’t actually flaws. They are simply traits, features, and qualities that are
inherent to you. And by letting someone see that, and experience that, you are giving
them a gift. You are broadcasting your humanity. And humanity is the fuel of the world.
We need it to survive. If we were all the same, it’d be a pretty boring, lifeless existence,
don’t you think? I certainly do. So comparing ourselves to one another is useless. You
are the most beautiful, perfect you there is.
I encourage all of us to take an honest look in the mirror, and let go of the protective
barriers, those walls put up by fear to protect you, and allow the world to see how truly
beautiful, unique and special you are. Challenge yourself to take risks, to feel afraid,
and see what happens when you triumph over those obstacles. Be the best you there
is, and let yourself shine.