Has anyone ever told you to trust yourself? Or how about: Get out of your own way? I get that often. Actually much, much more than I really care to hear. While hunting for an old headshot of mine last night, I came across all of my old paper work from past theatre classes and I kept a lot of it. On nearly every critique from my teachers or more advance students, that dreaded word was in each of them: Confidence. Character believability, vocal choices, physical choices and interpretation were all very well received, but that little word has kept me from reaching the fullest of my potential. And, to be frank, I don’t know how to get over that.
The reasons that I have thought of have been fear of success or fear of failure. Of course that’s always a big issue for nearly everyone. There is also lack of a seriously studious work ethic because I have to try and balance a “normal” job somehow/somewhere in there.
But I think with the advent of shows like “American Idol,” I may have actually found the real reason.
I am amazed at the ego that some of the “hopefuls”, and I use that term very loosely, have when they come in to audition for things like SYTYCD (So You Think You Can Dance) or AI. I worry if maybe I have been coddled as clearly most of these people have been. You can tell that they are being told by people how good they are, when it obviously isn’t true. Most likely, it’s their parents, or friends or even well meaning teachers that are just trying to build up their confidence. Could I possibly be having that same thing done to me? I don’t know. I can tell you for a fact it isn’t my family. They always had quite the opposite reaction. But I won’t get into that. Friends are supposed to support you, but do they always tell you the truth? The really good ones do. Even if you don’t want to hear it. For the sake of breaking this down fully, let’s look at some other possibilities.
Or I can liken this to crazy people. Please forgive my use of such a politically incorrect term. The thought that I have is that crazy people don’t go around asking if they are crazy do they? It doesn’t occur to them that they are standing just outside of the “norm.” So logically, one would believe that simply by asking yourself that tiny question, you shouldn’t be crazy since you are taking the time to think about the issue. If I were just to believe that I could do everything well, would that I mean I have the talent to do it? If I stopped and thought about it, it wouldn’t make any sense. This would then make it fall into the realm of ego right? But what if I had examples of it working out in some aspects and not others? No longer is it ego, but more like the crazy man trying to figure out if he is indeed crazy. So, couldn’t that same theory hold true for my situation as well? Possibly. Let’s look at another thought.
There is also what could be the attention factor. By saying that I don’t believe in what people are saying about my performances or ideas, some people usually try to explain why they are well done or good, thus breaking down the work and adding more compliments to it and more time praising which equals more attention. And while yes, I have a lot to say (some which isn’t appropriate for this blog site) and a outgoing demeanor the occasional ego stroking could be most welcome. However, I can assure you this one isn’t the case. Well maybe by 5% it could be. Subconsciously, speaking of course.
Another reason could be trust. Now I know that this could be a real stretch, but hear me out. I know not everyone likes the same genre of music or style of singing so therefore, many people don’t agree on what sounds good. There are the singers that sing out of their nose. There are the singers that sing like they are trying to hold everything in the back of their throats. Then there are singers who have a whole other voice sound or quality that they use to sing. That one I can’t even explain but I’ll try. Now I am not going to name any names, but let’s say I know someone who talks like Kermit the Frog, but when he sings, he sings like Miss Piggy. For the sake of argument, I did exaggerate this. But the sound and quality of his voice changes in a way that, to me, makes the whole performance feel fake and just bad. So when I see things like this happen on stage especially when there are other people that I know who could have fit into the role better, then I feel I have a legit reason to distrust people. And sometimes that distrust of people plays with my head. For example, about a month ago, I went in to audition for the role of Bob in “White Christmas” and the Vocal and Orchestra Leader was Rachel Michelberg, who I worked with on “Sweet Charity” at the beginning of the year. She had never heard me sing, and after the auditions, she said how well she thought I did. Do you know what I told her? My dumb ass said, ” Really? Blech.” Then she took me to task! Whew! Her mouth fell open for a second in disbelief and she said, “I am a professional music teacher! I teach people how to sing so I know what I am talking about. When I say that you sing well, you say ‘Thank you!'” So really really embarrassed I said sorry and thank you and quickly left. I do have to say thank you, Rachel for that needed slap in the face. The thing about that exchange was that it was just like a reflex to disregard the kind words of someone else. I find it confusing, because I can take a compliment if it were about shoes or clothes or even a blog post, but when it comes to “talent” or appearance, I just can’t do it.
So in the end, I guess what it comes down to is even if you don’t believe in yourself, ACT like you do; but seriously dig deep and find out why. The roles or opportunities that you have missed out on before could be yours if you have confidence. Here are some ways that will give you a boost. Be prepared. Study your material so you know as much as you can about it. Know what your guidelines are and be sure you respect them. Dress in something that makes you feel good about yourself, not necessarily something that makes you look good. When I wear a suit I feel super constricted and uber-self conscious so you’ll hardly ever see that. Be sure that it’s not something trashy though. Don’t wanna walk into an audition in a pair of cut off shorts if it isn’t called for, right?
I think that maybe my lack of confidence comes from a little of everything, I don’t know for sure. But I figure if I point it out to myself, I will finally start working on it. Thanks for lending me an eyeball!
Do you have confidence? What are some things that you have found that work for you? Do any of these ideas about where the lack of confidence stems from resonate with you? Which one? Let me know, maybe we can help each other out of this. I look forward to hearing from you.