Continuing the series
With this week’s topic “Your dance moves might not be the best, but I promise making a fool of yourself is more fun than sitting on the bench alone”.
The dreaded school dances.
Come on, admit it. When you were in Middle School (or as we called it Junior High School) and went to your first school dance you were as embarrassed as I was to actually dance, right? No? Just me? I doubt it. In my experience there were a half dozen girls out there dancing and everyone else was stationed in two camps (one boys camp and one girls camp) on opposite sides of the school gymnasium. Well, maybe except for the occasional slow dance.
My mom loved to dance, and whenever I would come home from a school dance, she always asked me: “Did you dance?”. She asked because she knew the answer was always no. And then she would inevitably use a phrase similar to this week’s topic to remind me that it would be more fun to dance, and no one cared how I looked doing it. Needless to say, I was sure she was lying just so she too could laugh at me for embarrassing myself.
She was right
I hate to admit it, but my mom was right. I’d love to say she was right about most things, but I’d be lying…about this topic, though, she was spot on. When I finally did get out to dance (not JUST the slow dances) I had a blast, and no one cared how goofy I looked doing it. Although I confess, I enjoyed the slow dances a lot more. I still do and believe it or not almost 50 years later I still feel self-conscious dancing in public. I generally don’t do it without some “liquid courage” even though I have taken some dance lessons.
But here’s the thing
I look back on all those school dances (and can still feel how self-conscious I was at them) and I can’t remember thinking other people couldn’t dance. I never once watched someone else dance and laughed at them or was embarrassed for them. Mostly, I thought, “I wish I could dance like that!”. I really should have gotten out there more, and maybe I would feel more comfortable dancing today.
It’s not just dancing
I doubt I am alone in this, but the idea of not participating in something because you don’t feel talented enough is not just about dancing. I believe this applies to many areas in life. Sports, work, dating…and I think a lot of people miss out on some pretty fantastic experiences because of it.
And sometimes, we do suck at it
Not everyone can be good at everything. Sometimes we do things we love, and we just don’t do them very well. But if you love doing it, you do it in spite of not being very good at it. Don’t sweat it, though, because everyone has something they suck at!
I love golf. I mean, it is a passion of mine. Like, I’ll play every chance I get and I only started golfing a few years ago. And here’s the thing: I feel like I am a really BAD golfer most times. I’m self-conscious whenever I play with someone I don’t know or who I hadn’t played with before (which, if you golf you know makes your game even worse). I golf anyway though.
And what happens?
A couple things happen when I golf all the time. The first thing I notice is almost everyone is bad at golf, or at least has really bad days. And the next thing that happens is (and this is the important part): I get better at the game! And of course, I have fun. Playing bad golf is a lot more fun than NOT playing bad golf.
That’s kind of how it works
It’s almost universally true that the more you do something, the better you get at it. I think the old saying is “practice makes perfect”. Although I don’t believe anyone can ever be “perfect” at something, I mean even Tiger Woods only wins some of his tournaments, you can definitely become proficient at things by doing them. But you have to do them! And sometimes, you can even have fun while you’re at it.
Think back to all the things you won’t do because you’re embarrassed. And then try and remember other people doing those same things that you thought were really bad at it or who made a fool of themselves. Can you think of anyone? If you can, I would say not very many. The simple truth of the matter is that most people are simply too absorbed with their own actions (and possible embarrassment) to even be paying attention to you. Honestly if you knew how little other people even notice you, let alone think about you, no one would be embarrassed about anything. Almost.
The entertainment industry
Working in the entertainment industry is no different, no matter what aspect of the industry you are in. Particularly as the talent, I find that a lot of people who would love to do Voice Over or Act simply don’t do it because they are afraid of making a fool of themselves. Sure, you can (and probably will) have a performance that is worth remembering not because of how brilliant it was but because of how NOT brilliant it was. And so will everyone else. So…who cares?
And you will improve
It’s inevitable, if you keep doing something over and over…including VO and acting, you will get better. Everyone starts somewhere, and nobody gives an award-winning performance the first thing out of the gate. So, if performing is something you want to do, don’t let a fear of making a fool of yourself stop you!
Earning a living
It is true that it is difficult to earn a living as a VO artist or actor. At least at first. So the truth is, if you want to be a part of this industry to become rich and famous, you are approaching it for the wrong reasons. Many people, and not just the ultra-famous people, make a living as actors and VO professionals. Eventually. Remember it is said that it takes ten years to become an overnight success. But it will never happen if you just sit on the sidelines and dream about doing it. It takes the same 10 years whether you start today or 10 years from now…so if it’s what you really want, start now. It is NEVER too late!
You can’t do this for money or accolades
I mean, you CAN get them, but it can’t be your motivation. If it is, then I suggest you are in the wrong industry. To really succeed as a performer, you have to do it because you love it. If you love what you are doing, and you do it, you have already succeeded even if you never make a dime.
There are ways…
And there are proven, time tested ways to improve your chances of being able to earn a decent living as a performer. Start by finding classes to take that will teach you the basic methods to deliver a performance, and then continue to both take classes and get coached along the way. Each of these things give you an opportunity to actually perform in a safe and non-judgmental atmosphere to acquire and hone the skills you need to be successful.
And by non-judgmental, I mean…
You know if you are in a class or working with a coach their JOB is to tell you what you need to improve, right? So, in effect they are (by design) judging your performance. You will get critiqued, but don’t let that stop you, it’s part of how you improve. Classes and coaching sessions are the place it is safe to be judged because it is your improvement that is the goal.
And there will be critics
It is a sad reality of this profession that there will be people who are critical of your performance. The performing arts are so…subjective. One person will love your work while another will hate the same performance. There is just no escaping it. As a performer, you simply can’t let a bad review keep you from pursuing your career. You do the very best you can, and make sure YOU liked your performance…and that’s that!
But none of it matters…
The only way to get a bad review is to be performing. None of it matters if you remain seated. If performing is something you dream of then not doing it because you are afraid of “making a fool” of yourself means you’ve already failed. So, remember: Your dance moves might not be the best, but I promise making a fool of yourself is more fun than sitting on the bench alone. And you never know where you might end up!
Patti N says
This really hit home for me. When I was in high school I was asked to narrate a video. I had never done anything like that, and I read the lines like I would read them in my head. Fast. I never got to hear the recording before they finalized it. When I saw the video with the rest of my classmates I was mortified at how I sounded. I wish someone had stopped me and just said “slow down a little” instead of letting me blunder on and embarrass myself.
One of my sons actually LOVES that one dance –> the waltz. He didn’t like that just hug and ‘shuffle’ boringly in a circle dance. He liked being able to ‘spin’ his gal on the dance floor. Yes, he had to practice with his mom first. 🙂 and wasn’t shy to ASK.