BWW Blog: The Art of Being Kind to Yourself
My name is Mia and I'm a sophomore getting my BFA in Musical Theatre at the University of Miami. And boy, do I have a lot to say about it. Welcome to the first installment the art of being kind to yourself.
Like many actors, I'm infamously hard on myself. I wouldn't say I'm necessarily a perfectionist, but not many things frustrate me more than messing up or not performing to what I know to be my best. As you might be able to guess, a very intense program where I'm willingly letting my craft consume me is not the easiest place to deal with being dissatisfied with myself as an artist it's so easy to critique myself, to take notes personally and to compare myself to the incredible performers around me. But I'm getting better at it, and here are some things I've learned along the way about what to do when you're getting yourself down.
1. Identify what's making you feel bad, and do yourself the service of forgiving yourself. Did you blank on a line or a lyric in performance? Did a teacher give you an unusually harsh note? Did you botch an audition? Have you fallen into an relentless cycle of thinking everyone around you is better than you? All of the above? Whatever it may be, remember that you have control over it. If you have difficulty with memorization, try a different technique. If you feel as though you disappointed a teacher, remember that they're only trying to help you and take the note you were given to the best of your ability. If you're comparing yourself to other artists, remember that they've probably felt the exact same way you do now! People have probably compared themselves to you and wished that they had a skill or talent that you have. Nobody is truly perfect and there's always, ALWAYS work to be done. You would do yourself a disservice by forfeiting to your own insecurities, so turn them into a will to work harder! Forgive yourself and continue to put your best work forward.
2. Celebrate the little victories. And I mean the little victories, because sometimes it'll seem like that's all you have. Getting out of bed in the morning, getting to all your classes, going to the audition, eating a healthy meal, and still managing to socialize after a draining day of classes are all victories worth patting yourself on the back for. Look at all you put yourself through, and look at all you've managed to accomplish! Remember you're dedicating hours of your day to an emotionally and physically exhausting artform. By giving yourself credit for the little things, you're giving yourself the validation you need to continue being your best self.
3. Self care, self care, self care. I don't mean lazy days and comfort food (although sometimes they're very much needed) I mean focusing on what's best for your physical and mental health. Recognize that you work hard and that you deserve to be treated well, and learn to recognize your limits when you feel as though you've been working yourself too hard. Eat well and eat enough! Sleep when you're tired! Have a conversation with a trusted nontheatre person (I cannot stress the importance of this one enough, but that's for another article)! Indulge in the mentality that you deserve to give yourself the best.
4. Build up those around you. How many times has a bad day been brightened just because someone treated you with kindness? Pass that feeling along as much as you can! If you hear someone tearing apart their own performance, tell them everything you thought was incredible about it. Compliment someone's outfit. Extend your empathy to anyone and everyone you think may need it. The acting world (and the world in general) is too toxic for its residents to be supplying each other with anything but unconditional support. Your words and actions have the power to fulfill you and others on AND off the stage.
You probably know as well as I do that theatre isn't all sunshine and jazz hands. It's exhausting, competitive, and it's virtually impossible to avoid rejection around every corner. Remember why you do what you do, and remember that there IS a place for you. You are the only person who gets to decide whether or not you're worthy of the art you create, so treat yourself with kindness at the end of the day, it's the only kindness that matters.