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BWW Blog: The Voice in the Back

Insecurity doesn’t have to be a dirty word that symbolizes inadequacy. It can merely be the ignition for improvement.

BWW Blog: The Voice in the Back
My freshman year of college
I was cast as Lulu, a Kit Kat Klub in Cabaret.
My costume for the show
was a pair of undergarments,
meaning my body was exposed
more than it ever has been on stage.
Getting comfortable with the exposure
was a challenge,
but an enlightening experience.
PC: Nour Lotfy

A difficult expectation for a person in theatre is not just a list of unique special skills, the aptitude for acrobatics, or being a triple threat. Obviously, those skills are not effortless accomplishments, but I think one of the most complicated expectations in the industry revolves around something that isn't necessarily seen. Performers promote the most polished version of themselves in auditions in an effort to make themselves marketable. Sometimes emotions bubble up, comparisons are made, and people are stumped by the feeling of never being good enough. The small, but easily amplified, voice in the back of many performers' head roars, and there is essentially a requirement to embrace it. That is where the challenge lies- facing the intrusive thoughts swarming around your head and making them bow to you.

Self-doubt becomes an issue when it inhibits people from reaching full potential. Allowing the irrational ideas sparking inside to permeate your craft is stifling. While no one will ever be infinitely perfect in this industry, being "good" is seemingly impossible when there is a seed of dread growing inside. So, how do you grab on to the dark cloud above and guide it into something advantageous? Well, a simple answer would make that elusive expectation too easy to accomplish, and what would anyone learn from that?

I have undoubtedly only experienced a small fraction of the growth I will undergo in my life, but I want to recognize that my understanding and use of my own diffidence is something that has improved. As I've confirmed from conversations with my peers, body image is consistently a prominent insecurity that does speak quite loudly. I am not a tall person, and I can assure you that the short jokes can be heard from down here. My height, the leanness of my legs, the shape of my torso, and the size of my features are all things I have heavily considered the beauty, or acceptability, of as an actress. I often felt, and will still sometimes feel, utterly inferior because someone next to me has toner legs that are much longer than mine. Yet, it is so silly to get caught up in such an uncontrollable detail because the fact of the matter is that a body that can dance is a dancer body. There's a belief that unrealistic beauty standards must be met to be successful, when a beautiful body should be any that can move.

BWW Blog: The Voice in the Back
Rejection letters were hard
to accept during my senior year.
I felt so much pressure to be
perfect for programs that
weren't looking for someone like me.
All I needed to do was present
myself the best I could,
and the right school appeared for me.

College auditions were a breeding ground for my insecurities. The exhausting process thwarted many obstacles upon my senior year. Auditions for a program seem immensely important while in the process, like a decision that will decide your entire future. Listening to someone belt just a little higher, watching an actor wipe away tears after living honestly in their monologue, or noticing the girl in front of you wearing the same dress as you- speaking from personal experience on this one- is enough to psych out any teenager with a big dream. We start our careers with insecurity weighing on our chests, but at some point we have to stop judging ourselves with such brutality.

I remember being in dance classes at a very young age comparing the heights of everyone's extensions or the number of turns each girl could do. I find myself doing a very similar thing now, but my intentions have shifted. What once used to be an internal breakdown about the things I'm not good at, is now an appreciation of the determination and the success of others. The terminology I couldn't remember is now featured in a stack of flash cards. I no longer berate myself at the end of a messy petit allegro, but instead note what to improve.

BWW Blog: The Voice in the Back
These are some of the resources
I used when I felt behind in my ballet technique class.
I auditioned for a dance minor
after a few years of not training,
which meant I was slightly behind.
Hard work and studying has
made me feel more confident in the studio.

What I have discovered is that ignoring bad thoughts simply because they are bad is equally destructive as feeding into them. If an actor lacks an understanding of their character, there could be a break in connection and holes in authenticity. Someone who uses the essence of personal experience to dive into the life of a character suddenly has the entire audience in a puddle of cathartic tears. The beauty of doubt is its ability to lead to beneficial self-reflection. If evaluated thoroughly- meaning truly committing to the process of looking at yourself critically the anxieties that you experience can reveal truths. Being uncertain of your ability does not have to mean destroying yourself with a sense of failure, but rather can be the extreme motivation to correcting those uncertainties. Insecurity doesn't have to be a dirty word that symbolizes inadequacy. It can merely be the ignition for improvement.

Accepting insecure thoughts in a proactive manner encourages confidence. Being too comfortable can allow for complacency, so there is a necessary balance. However, take pleasure in the uneasiness inside, for there is a richness in tension to be explored. Conquering what could make you weak turns you into the most poised version of yourself, and that's the whole goal, isn't it? I cannot pinpoint the exact shift in my mentality, but I now accept the challenge to free myself from self-doubt, and do my best to embrace the little voice in the back of my head.


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