Ever since I was a little girl watching Selena Gomez in Wizards of Waverly Place I wanted to do what she was doing. I participated in every Christmas show in grade school, I joined the only local theatre company in my town my eighth-grade year and participated until I went off to college, and was in all the spring productions in high school.
I lived and breathed the stage. I felt alive on the stage; I was confident in my acting abilities. My senior year I made the final decision to audition for BFA acting programs. I got accepted to three out of the five schools I applied for, but I didn't make it into the BFA program in any of them.
This was the start of my acting insecurity. I came into school afraid that I wasn't good enough to be there because I didn't get into the program. Furthermore, I was intimidated by all of the BFA students, especially after watching them perform.
They were mindblowing to me. Sure, I could tell that they were still students, but they were doing what I wanted to do and I was positive they were doing it better than I ever could.
I didn't want to reaudition for the program because I couldn't find it in me to validate myself.
Eventually, I auditioned for student productions and I made it to the callback section. That alone impressed me. I wasn't originally cast in any of the shows, but by a stroke of luck someone had to drop and I was asked to participate.
The experience was mind-numbing. I was so excited to be allowed this opportunity. For some reason, though, that still didn't boost my confidence like I had hoped it would. I knew that I was second best, maybe even third or fourth-best if they had asked people before me.
Shaking the shadow that was following me all year wasn't solvable with one show.
Not only did I not feel sufficient in my craft, but I hadn't been making friends. I tried as much as I could - I went to events, although I stood in the corner; I exchanged Snapchats with a few people, I even followed everyone in the program on Instagram as a way to create a bridge and introduce myself through my photos.
It was working in the sense they knew my online profile, but they didn't know me in real life and I honestly don't think they wanted to.
I wanted to be a part of the clique of amazing actors I had seen on stage but I couldn't get it out of my head that my personality was too annoying and weird, and I couldn't be friends with them if I couldn't be as talented as them.
I didn't truly feel at home in my program, and I still don't honestly. I realized after that year that I need to stick my neck out farther than I had.
I send in applications to be on the technical teams of student productions, I've signed on for the job of dramaturgy for one of the departments plays even though I have no idea what I'm doing, I'm reaching out to the people on Instagram more by commenting on their stories and photos in hopes that they'll see that I'm friendly and supportive.
Being a Theatre BA/BS student means that I have to create my own opportunities. I have to be ready to put everything I have on the line in hopes that I'll be given the chance to prove myself.That isn't to say I don't still feel like a fraud, because I do every time I'm in my acting class and everyone else seems to know what they're doing. We do a reflection exercise in class and every time I write in my journal things like "I am my own worst enemy" and "today I had no idea what he was asking us to do and I felt frustrated and embarrassed." Giving yourself the benefit of the doubt is incredibly difficult to do. Feeling unworthy of the one thing you've wanted all your life is daunting and honestly mind-altering. Getting out of the mindset of "I felt frustrated and embarrassed" can be a climb. My goal this semester is to understand that frustration and embarrassment is natural, and to realize that I am new to this and allowed to mess up. College is for failure, it isn't for perfection. There is no easy way to cope with these daunting emotions, other than reminding yourself that everyone started out somewhere. Dacre Montgomery, Billy in Stranger Things, was told he would never be a good enough actor to be cast. Now he's praised for the depths he brings to his roles. Other people cannot validate your ability. Only you can.