BWW Blog: Back to School - I Got In...Now What?
Congrats, thespians! You did it! You survived the trauma of Unifieds. After lots of debate, you picked the program of your choice. You made the Facebook status. Your high school drama teacher congratulated you. You feel like one in a million. And then you arrive to college and meet your class for the first time and...you're no longer the special one. Now, you're surrounded by people who are all on the same journey as you. While this time is extremely exciting, it can also be a bit intense and intimidating.
When I entered college as a freshman, I was in a company of 18 actors. Every conservatory class was shared with these others actors. I made a rookie mistake (that almost every young actor makes in an educational setting). I looked at my company members and immediately started comparing myself to them. I had been selected into a competitive program, but so had they. How did I stack up? Did I know more than them, or was I completely behind? I quickly learned that comparison is the thief of joy. This concept is simple in theory, but not easy in application!
In an environment where critique and competition are the norm, is it essential as a young, emerging artist that you stay focused on your own journey. I have found over the years in acting training that when I bring my strongest self to an ensemble, the ensemble has more to give back to me. Here are some of my favorite ways I've been able to conquer the burden of comparison:
- Be inspired by the success of your classmates. When you see a classmate succeed, journal about what you saw that worked. Switching the mindset from "uh oh they're better than me" to "how can I apply what they did to my work?" sets you up to be in a more positive and productive mindset.
- Make friends outside of the program. Theater is our home and theater people are our family, but it can be easy to forget that there are other wonderful people in the world who don't spend their time acting and singing and dancing! My friends outside the conservatory have often been my saving grace when things start to feel like too much. As artists, we put so much pressure on ourselves to be "perfect" all of the time. Do yourself a favor by surrounding yourself with people who love you unconditionally for who you are as a human, without any regard to your talent.
- Remember that you were accepted into your program for a reason. When I began my conservatory training as a freshman, I truly convinced myself that I was the worst one in my company and I had no right to be there. GET THAT VOICE OUT OF YOUR HEAD! It does not serve you, or your growth as an artist. BFA training is a four year journey where your levels of confidence will ebb and flow. Sometimes losing your confidence temporarily is part of the process. But comparing yourself to your classmates will not help you overcome this.
Getting a BFA is no joke. You are brave for embarking on this journey. Stay committed. Stay grounded. HAVE FUN! YOU DESERVE IT!