I don’t really care what people think about me.
JK, I actually do.
Well, generally I think I am pretty good at being indifferent to the opinions of others, but I know that I fall short more often than I should. I believe everybody has some concern over what others think about them, don’t you? Haven’t you ever had to throw away something in class, but you refuse to get up and go to the trash because you don’t want people to look at you? Precisely. I would be willing to bet this happens to us all more that we realize, but of course there are those moments when you really don’t care. For example: 14 year old me would never let me get away with this, but now I’ll go out in sweats and a t-shirt that are both grey! Scandal! I may think about it for a minute, but it doesn’t stop me from going out.
I have a totally different reaction about my reputation and past successes in theatre. As this school year has gone on, I have become more and more self-conscious about my accomplishments. I’ve even told people my acting resume is the most embarrassing thing about my life! I try to take this with a bit of perspective, but it’s hard to go easy on yourself when you go to a school where it seems like everybody has played several lead roles and worked in professional theatres.
Comparison is the ultimate downfall to relieving yourself of others opinions. I am super guilty of playing the comparison game, and that’s just not fair to myself. Nevermind all the crazy standards portrayed in the media and movies; I know some really stellar people in real life that I wish I could be more like! Being surrounded by people who embody all the characteristics you wish you had is pretty intimidating, how can you not compare yourself to people like that?
The key to overcoming comparison is to strive to be the best version of yourself. Chances are the people you admire aren’t amazing because they are a carbon copy of one of their role models. They are amazing because they are the only ones that play their part perfectly. You can do the same!
Everything is so much easier when you aren’t concerned about what people are thinking about you. Have you ever been on a trip away from home, and you just don’t care about how you look or act because you will probably never see any of these people again? Well, it’s possible to live like that all the time.
The most important thing to remember is that you have something to offer this world. Wherever you go and whatever you are doing, just be prepared to live your life honestly and play your character right. You are smart, you know things, and that’s what people want to see.
Why is it so hard for us to let go of what others think about us? Because not all opinions people bestow on us are bad ones. Approval from others can be a very addictive thing to pursue, but being dependent on positive opinions of others doesn’t just work one way; you are ultimately affected by the bad ones too.
To avoid this dependency, we have to find our value in something much more stable. In the grand scheme of things, no one is qualified to pass judgement on anyone else, so don’t worry about it! We also have to accept that everyone is an individual and we are all on our own walks of life. Overcoming the opinions of others isn’t easy, but it can really save you some stress. Don’t you have enough things to worry about?
I am calling this practice of overcoming the opinions of others an “art” instead of a “how to guide”. Art is something that can always be improved and is never really finished. Learning to let go of other people’s opinions of you is something to work on constantly. We are likely to fail many times, but there is also great joy to be found in this practice. Therefore, it is an art. 🙂
The thing is this: no one ever got anywhere by playing it safe. We should not be afraid to embrace our individuality just because others who are equally as flawed call us out on it. Our world would lack so much color if everyone lived in fear of other’s opinions. Nearly everyone who has made a name for themselves had to ignore some haters at one point in time.
Do you know what the real secret is to being successful as an actor? You have to be yourself. Offering the world of theatre something that they have never seen before is the best way to get noticed, and ultimately someone will appreciate your individuality. However, this goes for every single thing that we face as humans. The secret to success is being yourself, and that’s what your are automatically best at.
I hope these few words were encouraging to you. If this is something you struggle with, just remember that it’s perfectly natural, and perfectly in your control. 🙂